Did you know that there’s nearly 500 million people around the world who speak the Spanish language? What’s more interesting is that Spanish is the primary language of 20 countries, as well as Puerto Rico. With so many people speaking the language around the world, there isn’t going to be a “standard” dialect.
When we’re talking about the different types of Spanish, it’s important that we clarify the difference between an accent and a dialect.
A dialect is a variation of a language that has different vocabulary, grammar rules, and even pronunciations. The dialect is generally spoken by a group based on their location and/or class. On the other hand, a group that speaks a standard language and use different pronunciations then the collective, then they have an accent.
Take the United States for example. The people primarily speak English, but if you go to the South, they speak with a unique accent that is quite distinct from other parts of the country.
The Spanish language has a rich and colorful history that spans across the world. Even though Spanish speakers are speaking the same language, there still could be communication barriers depending whether the people speak the same dialect.
So, how many Spanish dialects are there? Well, truth be told, there are a lot. However, today we are going to talk about the major dialects of Spain and touch on a few dialects from other areas around the world.
Castilian Spanish is the official Spanish language and it is primarily spoken in the northern parts of Spain, as well as most of central Spain. The term, Castilian Spanish, is usually used by English speakers to denote the language spoken all over Spain instead of Spanish spoken in Latin America.
Andalusia Spanish is the second most popular dialect in the country after Castilian and is most commonly used in the southern parts of the country. The main difference between these two dialects are:
All of these factors result in a dialect that is softer on the ear and sounds more fluid when spoken.
This is a dialect that is spoken throughout the autonomous region of southeast Spain and the city of Murcia. The Murcian Spanish dialect differs depending on what areas you’re in. Not only that, but it can vary among the social classes and villages, too.
Llanito Spanish is spoken in the British territory of Gibraltar and it is a blend of Andalusian Spanish and Queen’s English. The dialect features words from English, but it also has words from other languages as well. For example, there are over 500 Genoese medieval dialect, although there are some remnants of Maltese and Portuguese.
Latin American Spanish is a dialect that is commonly spoken in the urban mainland of Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as most of Central and South America.
It’s worth noting that the Spanish spoken in these countries vary from country to country, but in general, Latin American Spanish is often used as an umbrella term to differentiate Spanish spoken in Spain from Spanish spoken in Latin American countries.
What is unique about Latin American Spanish is that people who speak this dialect can understand each other without a lot of effort much like how people from the northern US can understand people from the south.
This dialect of Spanish is spoken in Argentina and Uruguay, as well as the River Basin region between these two countries. The main difference between Rioplatense and other dialects of Spanish is that it sounds very similar to Italian, more than it does Spanish. This is because the region had an influx of Italian immigrants during the 19th century.
As the name would imply, this type of Spanish is spoken in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the eastern seaboard of Mexico and Central America.
What makes this different from other variants of Spanish is that the middle consonants are elided, the final consonants are omitted, and the “r” is aspirated so that it sounds like the “x” in Portuguese.
Canarian Spanish is the Spanish dialect of the Canary Islands. The dialect closely resembles that of the Caribbean Spanish dialect, which includes aspirated “s,” elided consonants, and the audible pronunciation of “h.”
If you know Portuguese, then you’ll be able to understand much of the language on the Canary Islands because Portugal once tried to colonize the islands.
This Spanish dialect is the only official form of Spanish spoken in Africa. The dialect includes vocabulary and pronunciations that are native to Guineans, as well as Cameroon’s German immigrant population.
When you decide that you’d like to learn Spanish, you probably never thought you’d have to consider what dialect to focus on. After all, like with any other language that is spoken around the world, there are many different Spanish dialects being spoken all over the world.
With that said, you shouldn’t be afraid of different dialects of Spanish. In fact, Spanish dialects are probably one of the easiest to master – or at the very least understand what is being said. That is because the basic principles of the language are still being practiced, therefore allowing Spanish speakers from other countries to communicate effectively without much difficulty.
In the comments below, tell us what Spanish dialect you speak, or are interested in learning. We’d love to hear from you!