Spanish Variants

The varieties in Spanish are regional variations of the language. It is to be noted that the alphabets remain the same for writing purposes. The variations in pronunciation and vocabulary make the language stand out. Spanish variants can be classified broadly as European Spanish and American Spanish, which together encompass all the different dialects within and outside Spain.

Some Spanish variants based on differences in Pronunciation:

Pronunciation of j: In Latin America, the alphabet j when present as the first letter of a word, is pronounces as /h/ (hen). But this does not happen in North America or Spain.

Pronunciation of x: In careful speech it is pronounced as /ks/ but in casual speech it is pronounced as /s/.

Variations of s: One of the major differences is the use of letter s. In Latin America, the letter s when placed at the end of words makes the s silent. But the same application in Spain would keep the s vocal.

Variations of n: Words that end in n are pronounced as /n/ (ten) when spoken in Spanish variants of Spain and Latin America. But North America the same n is pronounced as /ng/ (as in sing)

r sounds: In pronunciation of a single r, is /err/. However, in the dialects of South America, the r sound is sometimes leveled by pronouncing it as /l/ as in artesania (that might sound like altesania)

Spanish variants based on grammatical features:

Use of pronouns and verbs:  In Spanish there are variants in the pronoun ‘you’ depending on the degree of formality. Accordingly, second person formal in Spain and Americas would be – usted (singular) and ustedes (plural). The second person informal on the other hand is – tu or vos (singular) and vosotros and ustedes (plural). In Latin America only ustedes is used whereas in Spain both are used based on the regional practices.

Use of verb tenses: In Latin America, the Spanish verbs are used in simple past tense form, but those in Spain use compound past tense.

Spanish variants based on Vocabulary:

Variety in Spanish vocabulary may be attributed to the languages of the countries the settlers moved to. They borrowed words from the indigenous sources of the foreign land. Words that were thus borrowed predominantly included those of food, animal and plants, clothes, domestic objects etc. Hence these are termed as loan words. Apart from these Spanish language by itself developed due to regional differences in Spain itself. This means to say that a single word may have a standard meaning and a specific regional meaning. For instance, cuadra in standard Spanish means a pig sty; while in regions it means city block.


Culture Article Archive