Diversity of Spanish

When you think of Spanish what comes to mind? The delicious paella of Spain or the scrumptious asado of Latin America? Flamenco or Reggaeton? Spanish Sangria or Cuban Mojito? Latin America or Spain? In fact, Spanish is both of these places, and although they speak the same languages, there are a few differences to keep in mind.

I’ll start with a short history lesson. The Spanish language started in the south of Europe, in a country called Spain. In 1492 Christopher Columbus went to Latin America, full of indigenous tribes at the time. The process of ‘hispanization’ started and the continent started learning Spanish. However, as Spain renovated Spanish in their country, word didn’t come across to Latin America, which meant Latin America was eventually speaking older versions of Spanish. They both evolved differently, and so nowadays we are left with Latin American and Castilian from Spain. However, that is not all. Latin America is made of up many countries, which means each country has a slightly different accent or way to talk. It’s not different for Spain, which has three more languages appearing in certain regions. The large variety of languages, dialects and accents can be confusing, so stay tuned.

The main differences between Latin American and Castilian is the pronunciation and some vocabulary. You can immediately recognize whether you are talking to a Latin American or a Spaniard simply by how many s they say. This term called el seseo happens, for example, in the word cereza. The Latin American will pronounce it seresa and the Spaniards will pronounced theretha, so it sounds like they have a lisp of some sort. Another distinction is the yeísmo, where the ll pronounced as y in Castilian and is pronounced like a j in Latin America. There are a few other differences but which are harder to notice when distinguishing the two.

Before going on to vocabulary I will mention another important difference: how they say you. It’s something called the voseo where the Latin American use vos instead of . In Latin America they only use vos, but in Spain they use and usted, the latter used for more formal occasions.

Now on to vocabulary. I will just mention three important ones, since they are the ones most used. The first one is ‘car’: LA is carro and Castilian is coche. Carro in Castilian is a horse carriage, which is why you can imagine their confused face when you say you’re taking the horse carriage to work every day. The next one is computer: LA is computadora and Castilian is ordenador. The third important one I would say is the ‘ok’: in LA it’s simply ok but in Spain everyone uses vale. Of course some Spaniards will also say ‘ok’ but that’s mainly from English influence not far away from them.

The language differences are one thing, but the culture is something much more different. If you are to compare the culture and personalities between the Spaniards and the Latin American, you will see some interesting differences. When the Spaniards colonized Latin America, they brought their character with them: extroverted, full of emotions and the love of arguing. This, of course, has not changed too much in Spain and neither has it in Latin America. Through time, though, this has evolved, and since both areas have received different influences, they are definitely not the same culture now. In Brazil the African people brought them music, giving them the Samba and a great dancing style. In Peru there was influence from the indigenous tribes and the Japanese, making their society much more hierarchic and with importance regarding family relations. In Chile the German influence also gave them a sense of hierarchy. Argentina received more influence from the Mediterranean, making them more individualist. These are just a few of the countries which occupy Latin America, and it is already visible how different they are.

There are also many dialects and accents in Latin America, simply because of the large amount of countries which received different influences. There are too many to describe in one article, but it is worth keeping in mind the variety they have. Spanish, in addition, is not the only language spoken in South America. There is also Portuguese and many different indigenous languages, giving it a lot of diversity.

Meanwhile, in Spain, it seems Spanish has evolved in a different way. Six of the 17 provinces in Spain have an additional language coexisting with Spanish. What’s more, five of them want independence! The most famous pro-independence are Cataluña and País Vasco, which hold the languages of Catalan and Euskera, however there is another language which is Galician. In terms of culture, Spain is mainly divided into two. The northern half is more conservative, and the southern half is more liberal and more alike with Latin America. Similarly to South America, the south of Spain has the seseo, something the northerners love making fun of. The accents vary a lot depending on where you go in Spain, as well as the many different dialects, but generally people will understand you if you speak the standard Spanish.

Spain and Latin America have large differences, but they do not form a barrier of communication. It is amazing how although they all speak the same language, they have different cultures and traditions. To be able to travel in one language, yet experience so many different societies is really something to be appreciated and taken advantage of. Choosing between Latin America and Spain to learn Spanish may not be easy, but there wherever you go, there will never be a loss of diversity and ethos. That is what makes Spanish such a beautiful and worth learning language.


Originally posted at www.selcpro.com