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Let's talk about Spanish dialectal variations

Berges Institute • Jun 8, 2023 • 2 minutes
Updated Jul 31, 2023
Let's talk about Spanish dialectal variations
The Graf Method for Spanish Language

Download a PDF version of The Graf Method for Spanish Language, Vol.1 for free!

In this volume, we discuss the alphabet, definite and indefinite articles, and verbs ser and estar, among other topics.

Here are three interesting Spanish dialectal variations:

1. Castilian voiceless dental fricative

Where is it used?

It’s used in Central and Northern Spain.

What is it?

The consonant sound /θ/ (as the “th” in the word “thin”, in English, which is spelled /θɪn/ phonetically) is used in Central and Northern Spain to differentiate graphical symbols za, ce, ci, zo, zu from graphical symbols sa, se, si, so, su; in Central and Northern Spain, people would pronounce differently the word “taza” /taθa/ and the word “tasa” /tasa/. In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, both words would sound identical: /tasa/.

2. Voseo

Where is it used?

It’s mostly used in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and in some parts of Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Honduras, and Guatemala.

What is it?

It’s an alternative version of the second person singular (tú) form both in the actual pronoun and the present tense verb conjugation. Instead of “tú tienes”, people say “vos tenés”; instead of “tú cantas”, people say “vos cantás”. Instead of “tú vives”, people say “vos vivís”.

3. Aspiration or weakening of postvocalic “s”

Where is it used?

It’s mostly used in the Caribbean, many coastal regions of Central and South America (including Venezuela, Argentina, and some parts of Colombia), and the Southern part of Spain (especially Andalucía, Extremadura, and Murcia).

What is it?

It’s the debuccalization of the “s” that goes after a vowel, especially at the end of the word. Instead of /s/, “s” is pronounced /h/. For example, the sentence las casas son rojas is pronounced /lah casah son rojah/.

Will I have any communication issues when traveling to different Spanish-speaking countries?

Don’t you worry; Spanish will always be Spanish, no matter where you go. Try to keep yours as standard and international as possible, and you will be fine. All Spanish native speakers will understand you if you speak clearly. Properly spoken Spanish is incredibly similar across all regions, and vowel pronunciation is mostly the same everywhere — Spanish is a syllable-timed language, where all its vowel-based syllables are long and clear.

If we analyzed Canadian English, we would also find many differences when comparing it to East Coast American English, but, at the end of the day, the language is the same, and if you travel to Vancouver you will not have any communication problems. The same thing happens with Spanish.

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