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29 Mar What is the Difference between Spain’s Spanish & Latin American Spanish?

The Spanish language spoken in Spain, also referred to as Castilian Spanish, originated from Spain’s regional languages and dialects to develop the nation’s primary language. The Spanish language from Spain later spread to other parts of the world (like America) in the advent of colonization. Over time, a different form of Spanish language evolved; the Latin American Spanish. The language is a false construct as the geographical location and history of the continent have allowed the creation of different versions of the Spanish language.

Southern Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador speak Latin American Spanish while Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay have employed the native Spain’s Spanish. Although both languages are fairly consistent with the original Spanish language, they vary widely in their dialects, vocabulary, and accents. For example, Spanish speakers living in Uruguay, Costa Rica, Argentina and the Eastern parts of Bolivia use “vos” instead of the famous “tu” for the second person pronoun.

This article focuses on highlighting the major differences and similarities between Spain’s Spanish & Latin American Spanish.

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Pronunciation

The main phonological feature of Spain Spanish is the pronunciation of the letter “c” (when used before an “e” or an “I”) and letter “z” as “tú” (which is θ in English). In Latin America Spanish, however, “z” and “c” (even before “e” and “I”) sound like an ‘s.’ Other Spanish speakers, such as those living in Argentina and Uruguay, give “ll” and “y” a “sh” pronunciation.

Vocabulary

Another significant difference between Spain’s Spanish and Latin American Spanish is the use of the same words to define the same object, action or word. For example, a computer is known as “ordenador” in Spain’s Spanish and “computadora” in Latin American Spanish. Latin American Spanish is also known to borrow plenty of foreign words from English and foreign languages compared to Spain’s Spanish that has retained its originality.

Grammar

The use of pronouns:

The most notable difference between Spain’s Spanish and Latin American Spanish is the use of “vosotros” and “ustedes” when addressing someone. Latin Americans only use “ustedes”, the formal second-person pronoun, when referring to a group of people. Spain’s Spanish speakers, on the other hand, use “vosotros”, an informal second-person pronoun, which translates to ‘you’ in English. For example: How are you? “Vostros como estais?’” (Spain’s Spanish Speakers) and “Ustedes como estan? “ (Latin American Spanish Speakers).

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Furthermore, Spanish speakers in Uruguay, Central America, Bolivia, Argentina and Colombia use the second-person singular pronoun “vos”. Occasionally, it is used in place of “tu” (in Argentina and Uruguay) while in other countries it is employed alongside “tu” during certain social functions.

Leísmo

The term refers to the use of direct (lo and la) and indirect (le) pronouns. Latin Americans often use le instead of “lo” and “la”, which is incorrect. Nevertheless, in Latin America, the confusion between the use of direct and indirect object pronouns is often overlooked.

Similarities

The use of “s”

Latin America Spanish speakers are known to omit the letter ‘s’, using a rather soft grasping sound; hence, some words may seem half-spoken. Spanish speakers in the Southern parts of Spain also employ the soft-spoken ‘s’ sound.

Should you learn Spain Spanish or Latin American Spanish?

People have different opinions about which Spanish language to learn; some prefer Colombian Spanish as it is clear, while others prefer Spanish of Madrid as it is the home of the language. For language learners who are considering taking on the tongue, it isn’t about picking the version with the simplest accent to learn; it depends on the reason for studying the language.

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Adventure: Learn a language that is consistent with your destination. For example, Latin America Spanish is ideal if you are visiting Peru.

Volunteering: Learning Latin America Spanish is ideal for those willing to volunteer in the Latin American region where volunteering projects are numerous.

Job: For example, if you are hoping to polish your culinary vocab for a position in a Mexican restaurant, you would be at an advantage having learnt Spain Spanish.

On the other hand, if your goals are more general, it is important to consider the use of the language in your native country. For instance, people living in the US are better off learning Latin America Spanish while those in Europe should stick to Spain’s Spanish.

Whether you plan on travelling for pleasure or relocating for a job, learn the local dialect to experience the place in a unique way. Start your Spanish language course today! 

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