Every language has its own flavour. A single language or language group is a colossal tree that has many branches known as dialects. The differences in intonation and pronunciation shape up the dialects. Every dialect has its own unique repertoire of words and expressions.
Spanish has a rich linguistic history and crossroads of culture. While on one hand Spain was occupied by Arabs for nearly 800 years from the early 8th century on the other hand, Spain colonised vast swathes of Latin America from the late 15th century for a stretch of 400 years. This explains why Spanish dialects are so many in number where each dialect is no less rich than the other.
Major Spanish Dialects
When we talk about dialects while cultivating Spanish dialects, you must be wondering, ‘How many Spanish dialects are there?’
Come, let’s have a check!
1. Spanish Dialects of Spain
Castilian is the official Spanish language, spoken in northern-central Spain. It is the standard form of European Spanish. King Alfonso X made Castilian Spanish as the official language of the Spanish Government.
Andalusian, the second most important Spanish dialect after Castilian, is a native of Southern Spain. It is distinguishable from the northern Spanish dialect in the usage of ‘s’ at the end of words.
This Spanish dialect is felt strongly in the Autonomous Region of the Community of Murcia in the southeast of Spain.
The Caribbean Spanish dialect is the nearest cousin of this Spanish dialect. The vocabulary of this Spanish dialect is highly ornamented by Portuguese owing to colonial aspirations of Portugal.
This Spanish dialect is a combination of Andalusian Spanish and British English leading to the fusion, namely ‘Spanglish’.
Remember the feverish song Maria by Ricky Martin?
Who can forget the Catalans and their Spanish dialect Catalan? This Spanish dialect of Northern Spain is the most revered Spanish dialect according to the Catalonians.
Basque: This Spanish dialect is restricted to the autonomous Spanish community in the Basque region and in Navarra as well.
Galician: This Spanish dialect, quite influenced by Portuguese, is a precious jewel of the north-western Spain.
Extremaduran: This Spanish dialect is unique owing to its three-branched nature that is used for expressions by the autonomous community of Extremadura of western Spain.
2. Spanish Dialects of Latin America
Latin American Spanish
It is a beautiful conglomeration of the Spanish dialects of urban mainland Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and the majority of Central and South American countries.
The Latin American Spanish is uniquely beautiful in its own way regardless of the fact that the Catalans keep on alleging their Latin American cousins speak and write a disproportionate and disconsonant Spanish language. Some of the greatest artists of Spanish language like Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda and Gabo are greatest sons of Spanish language.
The River Basin region between Argentina and Uruguay, as well as in both countries is home to this Spanish dialect. There is a predominant influence of Italian in this Spanish dialect.
This Spanish dialect, a native of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic has a unique feature pertaining to the pronunciation of ‘r’ like the Portuguese ‘x’.
3. Spanish Dialects of Africa
This Spanish dialect is companionless throughout Africa. It is the only official Spanish spoken in Africa. It exudes the blend of the vocabulary and pronunciation patterns from both native Guineans and immigrant Germans of Cameroon.
Standard Spanish v/s Common Spanish
As the name suggests, Standard Spanish has all the official elements dominantly used in its written form. These include the Mexican standard, the Latin American standard, the Peninsular standard or European standard and the Rioplatense standard.
Standard Spanish originates from the medieval Castilian Spanish dialect. Standard Spanish owes its origins to the speech of Madrid, even though it is sometimes attributed to other cities, such as Valladolid.
Common Spanish constitutes all Spanish dialects across Spain and its colonies. Common Spanish exudes different flavours and aroma of Spanish language as dialects have the vigorous energy of invigorating a language.
When it comes to language learning, one can get to the core of it by learning the dialects in various forms and configurations in addition to the written format. It is challenging but interesting!
The regional accents of Common Spanish make it a more enriching experience.
Why are there so many Spanish Dialects?
Historically, while on one hand Spain was occupied by Arabs for nearly 800 years from the early 8th century on the other hand, Spain colonised vast swathes of Latin America from the late 15th century for a stretch of 400 years.
Spain consisted of many different kingdoms and each region had experienced various invasions or incursions over the centuries. This led to the birth of new tongues and we all know that all tongues are not the same!
The Spanish colonists got the opportunity to interact with the indigenous people of Latin America who developed their own Spanish language in various shapes and forms. The Spanish language of South America became one of the most beautiful formats of the language with the passage of time.
Over years, the indigenous languages of Latin American and Mexican regions started fusing with ‘traditional’ Spanish of their colonial masters to create brand new Spanish dialects.
We all know dialects evolve and form with time.
How Should Dialects Influence Your Spanish Learning?
As we all know that a language is best learnt when we interact with the speakers of the language. To improve your Spanish language skills it is important to get in touch with different Spanish dialects.
You start honing your Spanish language skills.
There are common variances in each Spanish dialect and each dialect is a whole new world with myriad expressions and configurations. While learning Spanish, you may stick to one particular dialect to begin with.
Dialects always give you more freedom to learn and move on. With dialects you can soar high with your own wings. So, choose a dialect of Spanish language of your choice and fly high!
You must be learning Spanish with the goal of fluency and your innate desire for learning the language. So, it’s time to translate your desire into actions.
What Spanish dialect is taught in schools?
To find an answer to this question we have to concentrate on the geographical distribution of the Spanish language.
In Barcelona, schools teach both the Catalan language as well as Castilian Spanish. In Mexico, students learn Spanish that is different from the one taught in Madrid.
Vosotros v/s Ustedes
‘Vosotros’ in Spain is ‘you guys’ in English. In Latin America, this expression is not used at all, and the verb conjugation flies away. In Latin American Spanish, ‘Ustedes’ is used instead of the polite form ‘they’.
It is quite interesting to note that while students in Spain, Europe learn types of Spanish that have 6 conjugations to a verb, their Latin American counterparts have to learn 5.
What Are The Benefits of Learning Spanish and the Different Spanish Dialects?
Spanish language has immense potential of taking you to both trodden and untrodden avenues of culture and learning.
Spanish is the second most widely-spoken language now. It is growing at an unparalleled fast pace.
If you are seeking to carve out a niche in business and career opportunities, just go for it!
Spain is creating significant footprints in the business world of South America, USA and Europe. So, speaking Spanish with Latin American dialects in particular is an attractive thing on a resume.
Learning Spanish unfolds a lot of career opportunities before you. You may become an English language teacher in a Spanish-speaking country.
What about being an interpreter?
Quite interesting! Isn’t it?
You have a plethora of options when you’re well-versed in the Spanish language. You may choose and learn any Spanish dialect of your choice.
If you are a traveller or maintain a travel blog, speaking the native tongue is going to enrich your experiences more than ever.
If you are seeking travel information, accommodation details, directions to the best eatery and towns and settlement grip on the local lingo is really helpful.
Spanish translation is the need of the hour now. It needs people proficient in the language. In terms of usage and importance of learning, Spanish is vying with languages like Japanese, Arabic and Mandarin.
If you are a movie buff do not forget to watch the movies of Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and their likes. Spanish movies have always found their mention in the brightest colours at The Cannes.
Maybe someday, while travelling and interacting, who knows you may find your love on the way!
Which dialect of Spanish is best to learn?
When you are in love with learning a romance language, you should go for Spanish.
When you are looking for an answer to ‘Which Spanish should I learn?’, it becomes relevant to find out in which areas you are going to use the language. Different areas have different needs. So, there is no best Spanish dialect to learn.
Learning Spanish is of immense importance now as it is the second most spoken language after Chinese Mandarin.
There are nearly 21 countries speaking Spanish at present. It might not make any sense unless you use your words, dialects and accents they are familiar with. The answer narrows down to where you are using it.