Understanding Spanish Dialects

Understanding Spanish Dialects

Caitlin Nicholson

Quite frequently, our clients ask us about the differences in Spanish dialects. (When we say “dialect,” we are referring to those differences in intonation and pronunciation. Sometimes, even words and expressions vary within different branches of a language.) Spanish ranks second in the world, in terms of native speakers. Therefore, there is a great demand for Spanish translation. Understanding Spanish dialects as well as defining your target market will help guide you as you look to provide quality multilingual solutions for your end users.

In this post, we will compare and contrast EU Spanish (Castilian Spanish or European) vs. LA Spanish (Americas). Spanish as a whole is a very regional language, but Castilian Spanish and Standard Latin American Spanish are the most generally used variants of the language. Both forms of Spanish are grammatically similar with few variations in pronunciation. One common difference in pronunciation is the pronunciation of the c and the z. Many (but not all) Spanish speakers in Spain pronounce the c which comes before i and e as a th sound. The z, is also pronounced as a th sound when placed before a vowel. In some regions of Spain, the c and the z sounds are pronounced the same regardless of placement. A key difference in grammar between Castilian Spanish and LA Spanish lie from the use of the informal and formal 2nd Person pronouns (English equivalent for the plural use of “you”). EU Spanish LA Spanish Vosotros Ustedes Informal 2nd Person Plural Pronoun Formal 2nd Person Plural Pronoun The use of vosotros requires EU Spanish speakers to use another verb ending. LA Spanish speakers (with the exception of Argentina) use the more formal ustedes, which inherently is more polite or a compliment when heard by EU Spanish speakers. Regional differences in vocabulary are present in all variants. The following are more common examples: EU Spanish LA Spanish Coche (Car) Carro (Car) Móvil (Cellphone) Celular (Cellphone) Ordenador (Computer) Computador(a) Computer Compare these regional differences to English (USA) vs English (UK). For example: truck (English USA) vs lorry (English UK). It is important to note that there are many exceptions in the use of Spanish vocabulary, but these exceptions are not rules, and the vocabulary is not lost in translation but generally accepted between multiple dialects or accents. Again Spanish is a very regional language, but the fundamentals are universally used throughout the various dialects or accents. If you have any additional questions about Spanish dialects or Spanish translation, contact LinguaLinx today! We’re more than happy to help!

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