Differences between Spanish in Spain and Latin America

More than 400 million people speak Spanish as their mother tongue. More than 300 million are in Latin America.

The differences between the Spanish of Spain and the Spanish of Latin America are analogous to the differences between British and American English. People from Spanish-speaking countries can communicate each other as easily as English-speaking people can. There are some differences, more in spoken than in written language, so people with Castilian, Mexican or Bolivian accent understand each other.

Here you have some of the main differences you may notice in Pronunciation, Vocabulary and Grammar.

Pronunciation: one of the main differences is that Spaniards pronounce the z and the c before i or e like the “th” in “thin,” while many Latin Americans pronounce it the same as the s. Another peculiarity is that in some areas, in Argentina for example, the pronunciation of the ll and y is similar to that of the “sh” and the s sound is dropped in the middle of the word (está – etá).

In some countries (Perù for example), the j sounds like the “ch”, while in others it sounds like the English “h.”, and the l and the r at the end of a word sounds alike.

But the most important distinctive character is the rhythm in which language is spoken in the different areas.

Grammar: Two important grammatical phenomena are the Spanish leísmo, the use of the indirect object pronoun le in place of the masculine direct object pronoun lo, especially when the direct object refers to a male person (Veo al chico – Le veo); The Latin American voseo, the pronoun vos is usually used with reference to the second singular person in some areas instead of

(¿de dónde eres ? – ¿ de dónde sos?).

There are also several small differences, the most of them involving the colloquial usage of the language.

Vocabulary: Other than slang, probably the biggest class of vocabulary differences you’ll come across is in the use of suffixes. A lápiz is a pencil or crayon everywhere, but a lapicero is a pencil holder in some areas, a mechanical pencil in others, and a ball-point pen in others. There are also a fair number of differences, such as a computer being an ordenador in Spain but a computadora in Latin America, but they are probably no more common than the British-American differences. Of course, every area also has its peculiar words. For example, a Chinese restaurant in Chile or Peru is called a chifa, but this word is unknown in another area.

This brief article only would to offer you an idea of linguistic variation in different hispanophone countries, but the topic is more complex than it seems to be. If you have any suggestions or questions o something to say about it, you are welcome!   

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