The Regional Variations. Spanish Language and Dialects.

Spanish is essentially a form of Modern Latin! Spanish language and dialects spoken in the various regions of Spain are also derivatives of Modern Latin. However, Basque is a totally unique language spoken in the North of Mainland Spain (and into Southwestern France).

Most Spanish words orginate from the Latin, further enriched by words from many other languages, including Arabic, French and Italian.

On the American continent, Spanish has also been influenced on a regional basis by the various indigenous languages.

Castellano

Castilian originated from Castilla (Castile), an important region in the north-central part of Spain, with Madrid being the capital. It is widely the accepted standard Spanish language and dialects throughout Latin America are predominantly derived from it. It has long considered to be the ‘correct’ form of Spanish, a little like the ‘Queen’s English’ in Britain.

Although castellano is the official language of Spain, many Spanish people do not speak it, or only speak it as a second language to their regional language.

The accent of Madrid and much of northern Spain is characterised by the pronunciation of the letter 'c' and the letter 'z' being a 'th' sound (as in thing) when used for the letter combinations of '-ci-' and '-ce-'.

For example 'ciudad' is pronounced 'thee-oo-dath'. In Southern Spain and the Americas it is 'ssee-oo-dad'.

Catalán

Catalán is the language spoken in Barcelona and the region of Catalonia. It is a Romance language related to Spanish, French, Italian and Portugese. It is not a dialect of Spanish, and therefore quite different and not automatically understood by Spanish speakers.

Valencian

The regional dialect spoken in Valencia, a large and important province in the Spanish south. It is distinctive from Catalán, but not as widely-spoken.

Galician

Known locally as gallego, it is spoken in the northwest of Spain, and has similarities to Portuguese. Galician is a language favoured by writers and poets.

Basque

The Basque language of the northern Basque terrorities bears little relation to Latin and is very difficult to learn. It is also know as vascuence or éuscaro. The Basque people are exceptionally proud of their individuality and many are reluctant to be part of the country of Spain.

Caló

Spain’s Gypsy minority speak Caló. This language is related to Sanskrit, and has a mixture of pure gypsy ‘gitano puro’ and Latin vocabulary. Many words are used in the bullfighting and flamenco professions, and also in Spanish slang.

The are also several regional dialects, as you will find throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom.

For example, the dialects of León, Murcia, Andalucía, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands all have their unique Spanish language and dialects.

Latin American Spanish

Castellano is generally the Spanish spoken throughout the South American continent, but with many regional differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and use.

Influences from the native Indian civilizations also affect the Spanish language and dialects spoken locally.

Generally, the differences in vocab, pronunciation and grammar between the Castilian dialect and those of Latin America are relatively minor.

However, a couple of the main differences in pronunciation to note are:

Castilian: Ce / ci / za / zo / zu are pronounced ‘th’ /

Latin American Spanish pronounced like ‘s’.

The accent of Madrid and much of northern Spain is characterised by the pronunciation of the letter 'c' and the letter 'z' being a 'th' sound (as in thing) when used for the letter combinations of '-ci-' and '-ce-'.

For example 'ciudad' is pronounced 'thee-oo-dath'. In Southern Spain and the Americas it is 'ssee-oo-dad'.

Because most of the Spaniards that went to the Americas, and traded with the Americas over the centuries were from the South, in particular Cadiz and Seville, the accent of the Americas more closely follow that of Southern Spain. This is part of the explanation of the regional variations in Spanish language and dialects.

Castilian: ll prounounced ‘lli’ (like in million) / Latin American Spanish, pronounced ‘y’ (you) or ‘j’ (jeans).



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