WHEN you start to learn Spanish, you may come to notice differences in the way Spanish is spoken, depending on where the person comes from. In this article, we’re going to look at the Spanish of Latin America.

Latin America Spanish

Spanish is widely spoken, from Spain in the Iberian peninsula to the tip of South America and to even Africa, so it’s not surprising that there are differences in the language that reflect particular regions. The densest population of Spanish speakers reside in Latin America.

Latin America broadly refers to everything south of the U.S., but it is more specifically those areas that were once part of the Spanish empire, or those areas where the language spoken by the natives is a romance language. A romance language is one that descends from Latin, the language of ancient Rome.

The Spanish accent varies widely from place to place, much the way it differs in English between a New Yorker and a Texan. Latin American Spanish dropped the lispy ‘th’ sound of the letter ‘c’ and ‘z’ that you would hear in Spain. In parts of the Caribbean, Panama, Venezuela and Chile, it is not unusual to hear an ‘r’ that comes near or at the end of word pronounced like an ‘l’, so that the word for door, puerta, might sound like pwel-tah.

Many speakers of Latin American Spanish use the word vos for the familiar form of the word you instead of . In standard Spanish, a female president is still a presidente, but in Latin America she would be called presidenta. Other occupations are also feminized such as arquitecta (female architect) and abogada (female lawyer).

Latin American Spanish

Additionally, Spanish in Latin America has been influenced by other languages spoken in the area, so that hundreds of words from various and distinct Indian languages have made their way into the language. For the most part, a Spanish speaker from El Salvador will have no trouble communicating with a Spanish speaker from Chile or Puerto Rico or Mexico. But some of these Indian derived words can cause confusion! For instance, a Central American’s ahuacate is an Andean’s palta. (Those are words for avocado.)

English has also influenced Latin American Spanish. In this part of the world, you’ll have no trouble asking for lunch (lonche), a sandwich (sándwich) or a cocktail (cóctel). Baseball is béisbol, a home run is a jonrón (‘j’ is pronounced like an ‘h’), and a chance is chance (pronounced chahn-seh). And if you’re so inclined, you can enjoy a highball cocktail (jáibol) while you prepare to type (taipear).


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