Spanish is a big and diverse language, derived from Vulgar Latin. Its political context helps us understand that the Castilian & Andalusian variations emerged in the Iberian Peninsula of Hispania, during the middle ages. Currently, Spanish is the native language of about 332 million people around the globe.
There are many Spanish dialects which we can mention, but for the purpose of this informative article, we will focus on the main variations:
Castilian Spanish: This is the main Spanish dialect spoken within Spain, it has very different verb conjugations from other Spanish speaking countries. One of the biggest differences is the use of the verb form “vosotros”, which is an informal second person conjunction rather than “ustedes”, which is used to convey respect. Another noticeable difference is the variation in grammatical forms, mostly noticeable by the use of the imperfect subjunctive. Additionally, Castellano uses a unique accent, if a word has a z, ci, or ce, these make a th- sound, for example, the word “Barcelona” is pronounced “Bar-the-lona”.
Latin American Spanish: The most neutral Spanish accent in the Latin American countries comes from Colombia because people speak Spanish more slowly and don’t cut words. Just like Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Chile, and Bolivia, these countries have a high concentration of indigenous population and native dialects play a strong role in how Spanish is spoken. Central American countries have a unique dialect due to their proximity with Mexican and South American influences, many countries in this region such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica, use “vos” instead of “tú”, as in Argentina.
Caribbean Spanish: This variation is used in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and it’s characterized by people speaking very quickly! The “d” at the end of the word is dropped out turning the word “pared” (wall) into “pare”. All these variations are due to the influence of African languages, Dominican Spanish uses pronouns similar to the African language Igbo.
Mexican Spanish: This dialect is impacted by two main factors: the first is indigenous influence dominated by the Nahuatl language. Did you know that the word “chocolate” and “aguacate” (avocado) are Nahuatl terms? The second key point in this dialect variation is the incorporation of words loaned from English, such as “computadora” (computer, Castilians would say “ordenador”), another example is the verb “rentar” while you would say “alquilar” in Spain.
Just like any other language, we can list thousands of dialects all around the world and while it may sound very different, it’s all still Spanish! However, in an effort to standardize and maintain consistency in its written form, the Real Academia de la Lengua Española (Spain) sets the rules to follow in order to speak and write in a way that is accepted by all the different Spanish speakers.