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.
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 singers.
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).
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, 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.
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 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/.
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.
The original article "Latin American Spanish or Spanish For Latin America" was published at Spanish Translator Services and developed by the Spanish translation company: Trusted Translations, Inc.
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