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Differences Between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish

BritBlue
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I was reading a discussion on another thread about the difference between a Latin American Spanish course (which is the course on Duolingo) and the European Spanish of Spain, found this little article that might be helpful to anyone wondering :)

http://blog.esl-languages.com/en/esl/differences-latin-american-spanish-spanish-spain/

Seems like the biggest differences are:

Pronunciation: In Central America the s isn't always pronounced, In Argentina, the double-l is usually pronounced like y Edit: In Argentina the 'y' and 'll' are pronunced like 'zh' (thanks to rspreng!) and of course the famous European Spanish 'lisp'

Grammar: Voseo (vos- a more polite second-person singular pronoun to be used among one’s familiar friends used often in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and ustedes (used instead of vosotros like in mainland Spain)

Vocab: for example teléfono móvil / celular and ordenador / computadora (the second being Latin American). Please feel free add to the vocab difference list below if you want :)

As this has been discussed many times before, maybe Duolingo should produce a little sticky discussion post for us so people can refer to it as they go through the course?

Edit: Found a great post on another website that explains loads of differences! http://www.mundolatino.ru/forum/php/viewtopic.php?t=4812

4 years ago

49 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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About the pronunciation of "s", in Southern Spain, and in almost all Latin american coastal areas (for example in Lima, Seville, Panama City, Caracas or Buenos Aires), people tend to drop it.

And Vos also is used in some other countries, like Costa Rica, Honduras, or in some Colombian and Venezuelan regions, etc. But the most known "vos" dialect is the Argentinian one.

There are a lot of vocabulary differences in Latin america (as rspreng said), for example in Colombia we say computador instead of computadora or ordenador; or the well known problem with "coger" in Mexico or Argentina.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks, didn't know that about the costal areas, and yes I've heard lots of stories about 'coger' :)

I'm always interested to learn about the culture of Latin America (since the only one I've been exposed to is Spain)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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You're welcome. I don't know why but the only foreigners who I've heard speaking spanish and dropping the s, are Brazilians.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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I'll have to remember to try and drop the s if I ever visit those places then, see if I can get my pronunciation right :) Maybe the Brazilian's do it in Portuguese as well?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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Even for me it's difficult, and I'm a native speaker :)

I don't think so, I'm learning Brazilian Portuguese. But who knows?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rockyroad99

Yes, Brazilian Portuguese is different. I had some Brazilian employees in Florida and there are big differences.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rockyroad99

The difference may be because Brazilians speak Portugese not Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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What I meant is that I've heard people speaking Spanish, not as a mother tongue (e.g Brazilians, Ukrainians, Americans, French, etc.). And the only ones who drop the S when they speak Spanish are actually Brazilians (The rest doesn't do it)

And I don't know if it's because they drop the S in Portuguese or because they remember when to drop the S in Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
Samsta
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"The famous European Spanish 'lisp'"

I do get quite tired of people calling it a lisp. It's a difference in pronunciation, not a lisp. It's called ceceo. The letter "z," and the letter "c" when it's followed by an "i" or an "e," have the pronunciation of the English "th." The "s" sound is still the same, which is why it's not a "lisp." If you don't like how this sounds, keep it to yourself. Spaniards already get enough criticism for it.

Learn more here: http://spanish.about.com/cs/qa/a/q_lisp.htm

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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I think you have misunderstood my point, I love the Spanish accent and I certainly don't think it is a 'lisp' thats why I put it in inverted commas! Also the article I linked to talks about the story and clarifies that it is not a lisp. I am well aware of the story as I have spent a lot of time in Spain with friends and family that live there - thats why I want to learn the European Spanish and why I made this post, I go to Spain every few months.

On another note I have never heard of Spaniards getting criticism for their accent here (in Europe), I have seen some people making fun on American tv e.g. Joan Rivers making fun of Penelope Cruz but I just thought she was talking about her accent, not the 'lisp' in particular, but I have never come across it here, is it a problem in other countries?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
Samsta
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I wasn't writing this to you in particular, I'm sorry it came out that way. I have seen Spaniards get criticism for it various times on the internet, even here on Duolingo (in the Spanish discussions). I also use the same accent since I have friends from Spain, which is why I tend to take offense to it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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No problem, sometimes things get lost in translation on here, especially with all the different languages! I still think the Spanish accent is the nicest (and I'll defend it against anyone who says otherwise as well!) as I think the original accent is always the best! But then I'm a Brit haha :P Do latin Americans make fun of the accent then? I had no idea that anyone really made fun of the Spanish accent....

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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ps I speak my Spanish with a European Spanish pronunciation as the classes I took before coming on Duolingo were taught by Spaniards (as I live in Europe) and the resources I use are European Spanish, so if I was criticising the 'lisp' I would be criticising myself.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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That's called distinción, ceceo is when you pronounce the s like a z or a c before e and i.

The Ceceo is present in much less places than seseo, principally in Andalusia, Spain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonological_history_of_Spanish_coronal_fricatives).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

In Argentina the 'y' and 'll' are pronunced like 'zh' There is as much variety of vocabulary among Latin American nations as there is between Latin American and Spain. Check out the meanings of soda straw, ballpoint pen, bus, automobile, and many others and you'll find much variety in the western Spanish speaking world.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks, I'll be sure to check those out and post them up top!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lexy0202
lexy0202
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Also another vocab example: duo teaches "el mesero" for "the waiter", however, I believe "el camarero" is what's used in Spain.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks! I'll add it to my list :) Apparently mozo is used in Argentina as well?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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Yes, in this thread ( https://www.duolingo.com/comment/782263 ), there are a lot of Argentinians complaining because Duo doesn't accept mozo as a right answer.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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haha, in all fairness Duo is quite good at accepting different words for things, I have noticed when I have written in British English e.g. colour, Duo accepts it, which is nice to think that they thought of us over here on our little island, still a bit miffed about the American flag for the English course though! :P

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/laurahale

camarero is used in Spain. I don't think I have ever heard mesero here.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eggplantbren

In the memrise course I'm doing, it says that vos is even more informal than tú. Is this correct?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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In general no, it's regional... For example, you'll never hear an Argentinian using tú. But being regional it could be; in a country where both tú and vos are used, and exist the rule you say.

Each country has its own "treatment rules"; as far as I know, in Costa Rica it's not well seen that people uses tú, unless you're a foreigner.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/badtothebone124
badtothebone124
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It can vary from country to country and even from region to region. Here in Puebla, people try to be as refined as possible in their speech coming as close to the Spanish spoken in Spain as possible. But in Veracruz and Tabasco states, the s is cut in many words, so Tabasco becomes Tabathco and pesos becomes petho or pejoth. That was a making fun of sorts to perennial presidential candidate Andreth Manuel Lopeth Obrador

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Is European Spanish considered more refined then?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/badtothebone124
badtothebone124
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Depends on the person. I personally like the Spanish from the Southern Cone better (CHI, ARG, URU) as well as the European variety. Here in Mexico I like the accent here in Puebla. I don't like the accents of Tabasco except to make fun of them. And the Chilango (Mexico City area) is quite similar in modisms to the Cockney of East London...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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I agree with badtothebone124, it's personal. I like the Spanish from Bogota, Lima, Caracas, Cali (Col), Madrid, and Andalusia, and I like Chilean because it sounds funny. And for example, many people in LatAm don't like European Spanish dubbing in TV and movies, but I like it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks babtothebone124 and AlejoPF! I don't actually know anyone from S.America so can't ask about these things! I suppose Spanish dubbing would be akin to an English accent on American TV...... and thats interesting about the Mexican version of Cockneys...... :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/badtothebone124
badtothebone124
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Yes, in Mexico City, people will tell the strangest things, and it has nothing to do with what the translated version means. When a person offers you a viaje there, looking angry, decline. Beacuse he will punch you clear to the place where you want to go!

Chela which also means a blondie in other places, means beer. Chesco means refresco, but can also refer to the name Francisco. El Coloso usually means Azteca Stadium (cap 105,000)

I've heard about the Cockneys say don't tell porkies as a substitute for don't tell lies.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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haha, thanks! and thanks for the video AlejoPF! 'don't tell porkies' is something that is often said throughout the uk and will be understood anywhere really, a lot of 'cockneyisms' are now standard english phrases, not sure why, may be something to do with TV e.g. Eastenders (a popular tv soap) and general admiration of the culture :) we even have cockney atms now! http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130213-atm-machines-cockney-east-london/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aaditsingh8
aaditsingh8
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Piña in Europe and Anana in Latin America for a pineapple

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks! What about the drink piña colada? Is that still used rather than anana colada?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aaditsingh8
aaditsingh8
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I don't know about that, lo siento... :(

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Seems like piña colada came from Puerto Rico and they call pineapple piña, other countries such as Argentina use anana, found a thread on it below if you want to have look :) Thanks!

http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=571889

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aaditsingh8
aaditsingh8
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Thanks for the info! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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De nada! Gracias por tu ayuda! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlejoPF
AlejoPF
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Ananá in Argentina,Uruguay, I'm not sure if in Paraguay andn Chile as well. In the rest of LatAm, we use Piña as well as in Spain.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/badtothebone124
badtothebone124
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Here in Mexico it is Piña too. But Piña is a colloquialism for a beautiful woman. When a man does the action of chupar la piña he makes out with the woman. But watch out when you say that in Chile or Argentina because it goes A LOT further.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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haha, I'll make sure I remember it!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ivanka_ps
Ivanka_ps
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Hey, where in Mexico does "piña" means beautiful woman? Also, where I live, "estar piñado" is liking something very much.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/laurahale

Vosotros/Vosotras I think is a hugely different thing with Spain. Duolingo doesn't cover it, but if you don't have it and the related grammar/conjugation rules down, things will get confusing fast. Spain is, to a degree, much less formal than other countries and vosotros/vosotras is used as the plural of tú, informal version of ustedes a lot. I have been told by a number of Spaniards ustedes is used only for old people or for situations requiring being formal. Courts, governments, the King... and when police arrest a suspect, they would use usted. Almost all other times, you use tú/vosotros/vosotras. I'm taking Spanish classes in person, and we had a whole lesson basically dedicated to learning when to use one or the other.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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yes you're right, are you in the uk? I was given some notes from a Spanish class and they only used vosotros/as really in the majority of the notes, hardly a mention of usted.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/laurahale

No, I am in Spain and taking classes here. I like Duolingo a lot, but there are some short comings if you need type of Spanish over the other. Vosotros is a huge one. ¿como estáis? is much more common than ¿como estan? ¿qué hicisteis ayer? gets asked more than ¿qué hicieron ayer?

Having learned a bit of Spanish in school without vosotros, having been practicing with Duolingo for about a year off and on before classes, it was a major mental hurdle to jump through to figure out how to use it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks, I am making an effort to always keep in mind the vosotros form when I am on Duolingo, everytime usted comes up I make a mental note of the vosotros form :) Nice that you get to live in Spain and learn, bet it helps a lot! I have been to Spain many times but not since I started learning Spanish unfortunately..... I am thinking of maybe going a university next summer (I think it might be a bit too soon for this summer) for one for their summer courses (maybe Barcelona or Seville), do you find the teaching better there?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/laurahale

I am only learning Spanish because I live here.

There are a few language schools that do a really good job. You can take courses for a week to months depending on time and money. The good programs are recognised by Cervantes. http://eee.cervantes.es/en/index.asp If they aren't there, buyer beware. Most classes here are immersion, because it isn't effective to have "Spanish for Finnish speakers" and "Spanish for Chinese speakers" and "Spanish for English speakers". It is really useful because it forces you to think, to respond, to use things more naturally. While I got a fair amount of vocabulary out of Duolingo, I didn't get the ability to respond spontaneously until I had the classes. Most classes in these programs are also small, nine students max. They can often arrange housing for you, where you stay with a Spanish "family" who will basically speak to you only in Spanish. I like mine a lot. I find them very useful.

I talked to someone from Suiza and they said Spanish classes in Zurich were not as useful because the teachers are often not Cervantes recognized and the teachers are from South America. Not very useful for learning Spanish for Spain.

If you have a week or two, you still have time and if you really want to learn it, I think you can get a lot out of two weeks.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BritBlue
BritBlue
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Thanks for that link! I was thinking about maybe doing a course at the Cervantes Institute in London this summer, I might give it a go! And maybe next year go to Spain :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Angelagrac3

Yes, you're right, I'm Spanish and "ustedes" as well as "usted" is very formal and/or for old people (although that's a little touchy because sometimes I don't know if a person's "old enough" to talk to him as "usted". However, in some parts of Spain (Canary Islands and some parts of Andalusia) "ustedes" is used instead of "vosotros" as in latin-american countries BUT with the verbal form of "vosotros", as in "ustedes tenéis". I hope I didn't confuse you more with that but there are quite a few differences among spanish regions!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/laurahale

No, I'd actually been told that too. Mostly my Spanish learning is what I need for Madrid. :)

4 years ago