Latin American Spanish or Spanish For Latin America
This is the universal and somewhat arbitrary name that is given
to idiomatic and native expressions and to the specific vocabulary
of the Spanish language in Latin America.
Of the more than 400 million people who speak Spanish (or Castilian)
as their mother tongue, more than 300 million are in Latin America.
There are numerous particularities and idiomatic expressions within
Spanish or Castilian.
Some of the aspects that affect Spanish are: incorrect usage employed
by the mass media, the influence of English and, maybe most importantly,
the existing gaps in technical vocabulary.
However, it is in technical vocabulary that one can find more clearly
a difference between Spanish from the Iberian Peninsula, also called Spanish
from Castilla, and Latin American Spanish.
In Latin American Spanish the direct loanwords from English are
relatively more frequent, without translating or adapting the spelling
to the traditional norms.
The most notorious example is the use of the word email or e-mail in
Latin American instead of the more literal translation, correo electrónico,
that is used in Spain. These differences are evident especially in recently
adopted technical terms. In Latin America they speak of la computadora
while in Spain it's el ordenador, and each of the two words sounds
foreign in the region where it is not used.
Different Dialects of Latin American Spanish:
The language has variants in the diverse zones where it is spoken.
These differences are called regional variants or dialects. In Latin
American this tendency toward differentiation is almost imposed by
the very magnitude of the territory.
So we can observe in the different geographical areas the development
of different variants of Latin American Spanish:
In the Amazon area, the languages of the region have their influence,
above all for designating flora, fauna and activities.
In Bolivia, idioms and regionalisms exist in spoken Spanish, especially
in the department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Originally this was the most northern extension of the old and colonial
dialect of the Southern Cone. Its speakers, the cambas or
cruceños, profess to physically resemble Spaniards
This is a Spanish marked with idioms, influenced by those who speak
Andalusian, Canarian and above all the Black presence.
Included are the island territories of Cuba, the Dominican Republic
and Puerto Rico, as well as the coastal areas and, by extension, the
interior of Venezuela, northern Colombia and the majority of Panama.
It is also the most common Spanish in the cities of Miami and New York
in the United States and it is the form of Spanish most used by Salsa
Central American Spanish:
The Spanish spoken in Central American, the Arahuaco and the Caribbean;
it is also the variant of the Spanish language used in the Central American
republics of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala
together with the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. It represents an
intermediate point between the dialects of the highlands and the
lowlands of the Americas.
It incorporates words such as: bohío (hut/shack),
yuca (lie/tough/hard), sabana (savannah), guacamayo
(dressed garishly) and naguas/enaguas (petticoat).
Along the mountain range of the Andes from Ecuador to the Tropic
of Capricorn, there are influences of Quechua,
Aymara, and other indigenous
languages which are now extinct.
Some words still in use, for example from
Quechua, are: alpaca,
guano, vicuña or china.
The Spanish spoken in Chile differs with other Latin American
dialects principally in pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary. It
is recognized for having a wide variety of tones for each situation
and for its conjugation of the second person singular (tú).
Colombian - Ecuadorian Spanish:
Colombian-Ecuadorian Spanish, including a certain prolongation
along the northern coast of Peru, is a mixture of the Caribbean
dialect and Peruvian waterfront dwellers' dialect. The main urban
center of the region is Guayaquil, together with Bogotá
and Quito, and there are important Black communities mainly on the
Colombian coast (particularly in the department of Chocó)
with their own idioms and local usages.
The form or dialect of Spanish spoken in Mexico, mainly in the
central area, has an indigenous substratum of mainly
Nahuatl, which the Castilian
language was placed on top of. However, if in the vocabulary its
influence is undeniable, it is hardly felt in the area of grammar.
In the vocabulary, apart from the Mexicanisms which have enriched
the Spanish language, such as jícara (gourd/small cup),
petaca (suitcase/trunk/luggage/hump), petate (grass/palm
mat), aguacate (avacado pear/idiot/fool/balls), tomate,
hule (rubber/rubber tree/condom), chocolate etc.,
Mexican Spanish has many Nahuatl
words that give it its own lexical personality.
Sometimes the Nahuatl
voice co-exists with the Spanish voice, as in the cases of cuate
and amigo (friend), guajolote and pavo (turkey),
chamaco and niño (boy), mecate and
reata (rope), etc. In other cases, the indigenous word differs
slightly from the Spanish, as in the cases of huarache, which is a type of
sandal; tlapalería, a type of hardware store, molcajete,
a stone mortar, etc.
Northern Mexican Spanish:
The Spanish used in the North of Mexico (Chihuahua, Sonora,
Nuevo León, Sinaloa and Coahuila) differs from the other
regions of Mexico mainly in the intonation of the words (Northern
Accent). It preserves the same differences that the Mexican dialect
has with respect to Peninsular Spanish (the universal use of the
personal pronoun ustedes for formal and informal situations, the
seseo and the yeismo).
The Spanish used in Paraguay as well as in the Argentinian
provinces of Misiones, Corrientes, Formosa and Chaco is characterized
by strong Guaraní
influence. Paraguay is the only Spanish American country where the
majority of its population is bilingual. Paraguayan Spanish does
not differ much in its written form from the rest of the Spanish
of the Southern Cone.
The Spanish spoken in Peru has two characteristic forms of
speech. The first is the Spanish of the waterfront dwellers and
the Central or Lima form, whose origin was in the city of Lima
from where it spread to the whole coastal region. Between 1535
and 1739, Lima was the capital of the Spanish Empire in South
America, from which the culture spread, and its speech became
the purest because it was the home of the famous University of
San Marcos of Lima and also it was the city that had the highest
number of titles of nobility from Castile outside of Spain.
The other main variety of Spanish from the coast of Peru is
that which appeared after the penetration of the linguistic
habits of the mountain areas and of the rural environment into
the coastal cities and Lima.
This language could be catalogued as undereducated, and is
the form which is spoken today by the youth and the great majority
of residents of the capital.
Puerto Rican Spanish:
Puerto Rican Spanish is a dialect of the Spanish language
used in Puerto Rico.
It can be distinguished by the aspiration of the final /s/
or interconsonantal at the end of syllables (transforming
/adiós/ to /adioh/ or /horas/ to /horah/), the elision
of the teeth in the suffixes -ado, -edo e -ido and the
corresponding feminine forms - converting to -ao, -eo and
-ío-, and the loss of the phonological opposition between
/r/ and /l/, which results in allophones allowing the forms
/señol/ as /señor/ or /Puelto Rico/" as /Puerto Rico/.
Spanish from the River Plate or Buenos Aires Spanish:
The River Plate Spanish is a variant of Castilian that is
used in the surrounding area of the River Plate, the Argentine
province of Buenos Aires and Uruguay.
It differs from the Castilian of the rest of Latin America
mainly because instead of saying tú, it
uses vos (with the verbal deformation of the Buenos Aires area),
some words vary in accentuation and the words with "ll" sound
like "ye" and in some regions like "sh".
There are vocabulary differences and differences of morphology
between Argentinian Spanish and Uruguayan Spanish. Both incorporate
terms from Guaraní:
tapir, ananá (pineapple), caracú
(bone marrow), urutaú (a kind of bird), yacaré
(alligator), tapioca, mandioca (cassava/tapioca/manioc)...
Also, it takes advantage of certain possibilities of the language
to expand the use of augmentatives and diminutives: pesitos,
cerquita, amigazo, buenazo, grandote...
The phrasal verb replaces the future, for example, voy a ir
(instead of iré), voy a cantar
(instead of cantaré)...
And in vocabulary: lindo (bonito - beautiful),
pollera (falda - skirt), vereda (acera -
pavement/sidewalk), flete (caballo - horse).
River Plate Spanish has been enriched by the influence of immigrants
who settled in the area and also by native voices. Among the immigrant
groups the influence of Italian and French stands out.
In Argentina, slang is called lunfardo. Originally, Lunfardo started
as a prison language, spoken by the prisoners so that the guards wouldn't
understand them. Many of the expressions arrived with the European
immigrants (mainly Italians).
Today, many of the "Lunfardo terms" have been incorporated into
the language spoken all over Argentina, while a great number of Lunfardo
words from earlier times have fallen into disuse.
Language exists to the extent that there are people who speak it.
It is a human activity whose use is communication. Speech, which
appears even in some texts in order to avoid a certain formality in
the written language, expresses the psychophysical mechanism of the
author. It is an act of will and intelligence, individual and different
from person to person. It is changeable according to the passage of
time and of modern life.