Spanish is the fourth most dominant and one of most spoken languages in the world. It’s a romance language as many people term it and its spoken as a first language by more than 360 million people in the world. Most people assume that Spain has the most number of Spanish speakers in the world as it is their official language. However, this isn’t true. It might be their language but they don’t have the most speakers. During the early 21st century, Mexico had the largest number of Spanish speakers closely followed by Colombia, Argentina, the US and Spain. All of these and many other countries speak Spanish but not the same in pronunciation and grammar as well. most of these countries speak a variant of Spanish called a dialect.
The Spanish language has numerous dialects distributed across the world. Most of the dialects are as a result of Spanish getting influenced by another language.
How is Spanish distributed?
Spanish is an official language of 18 countries. the estimated number of speakers when it comes to Spanish are Mexico 110 million, Colombia 41 million, Argentina, 40 million, Spain about 38 million, Peru 26 million, Venezuela 27 million, Bolivia, Cuba and many others with less than ten million speakers. This is the number of speakers in each country for speakers where Spanish is their first language and second language as well. There is a lot of content and jobs for professional translation English to Spanish every day.
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This number explains how Spanish could have so many dialects. In every country above and many others not mentioned, Spanish is not the only language hence the influence.
Dialects are known for their difference in speech and grammar as well. this is essentially what makes a dialect. It is the difference in pronunciation, intonation and in expressions as well as words that are present in one branch of the language and not the others or its present in some branches and doesn’t exist in others.
The Spanish language is one of the richest in history spanning epochs and continents. This offers a good starting point for examining the origin of these dialects as well as the proliferation of the said dialects. Below are some of the Spanish dialects that exist in the world today, how they are spoken and where they are spoken.
This is the official language of Spain. Its spoken in North and Central Spain making it the most popular dialect in Spain. It is the most widely known and spoken of all dialects in the world. With this dialect, there are different verb conjugations as compared to the same language in other Spanish speaking countries. The Castilian dialect uses the vostros verb form.
The Castilian dialect also uses imperfect subjunctives. They use it to talk about uncertainty.
The Castilian dialect we can confidently say its where all the Spanish began. Most people know it as the original Spanish language.
From northern Spain, we move to southern Spain where Andalusian is the dialect spoken in this region. It’s the second most popular dialect after Castilian but differs from it significantly. The difference from the northern Spanish dialect is in the ceceo/seseo difference, the aspiration of consonant ‘s’ at the end of some words, the elision of consonants ‘d’ and ‘r’ and final consonants dropping. With all these combined, the outcome is a softer and free flowing sound as compared to other dialects.
It’s a Spanish dialect spoken in countries such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. While they might have other dialects embedded between them, Spanish speakers combine all the countries together calling them the Caribbean Spanish. If you notice, there are not so many Spanish aspiring learners that rush to most of these countries to learn Spanish. The dialect is known to be one of the most rapidly spoken.
A good example is how the Caribbean Spanish speakers omit the ‘d’ at the end of many words. Instead of pronouncing the word mitad, they say mita. They also tend to drop the ‘s’ sound at the middle and end of the words.
In Puerto Rico, their Spanish is unique as its heavily influenced by the United States. Due to this influence, Puerto Ricans stress the sound ‘r’ same as English speakers do.
For the Dominicans, they are the most difficult to understand as compared to other native speakers. This is highly due to their word cutting where they cute huge chunks of a word making It hard to understand. For example, they will say ‘ta’ instead of ‘esta’.
Central America or Mexican dialects
As surprising as it may sound, Mexico is the biggest Spanish speaking country globally. This has made it the heart of Spanish cinema as well as media.
The good news with their dialect is that its considered to be the easiest to learn and understand as well as speak. Language learners are better suited learning Spanish from either of these dialects as compared to the others. These dialects have clear pronunciations and they don’t normally cut off words as we have seen in other dialects.
Mexico is well known for their rich use of slang in their normal conversations. However, since they are rarely cutting words and they speak so clearly, they easily pick up new words hence extending the dialect even more. the dialect is widely spoken in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and a majority of the south and central American countries. This dialect is called Latin America mostly to differentiate it from the Spanish spoken mainly in Spain. They are close dialects but their pronunciations and grammar are different.
The river basin region between Uruguay and Argentina as well as in both these countries is where this dialect dominates. The primary or the most significant difference between this dialect and other Spanish dialects is the speaker’s intonation. It was heavily influenced by Italian which is so close to Spanish hence the dialect sounds more Italian as compared to Spanish.
It’s a dialect primarily known to be of the Spanish Canary Islands which is almost similar to the Caribbean Spanish. This dialect is well characterized by its pronunciation of the letter ‘h’ and the aspirated ‘s’ elided consonants. The dialect came to be as it was heavily influenced by the Portuguese. This was all due to Portugal’s efforts in a bid to colonize the entire islands.
The dialect is a combination of Andalusian Spanish and the British English. This dialect is mostly spoken in Gibraltar the overseas territory of Britain. Its due to this that the unique combination of these two languages came to be. The dialect is also influenced heavily by a bunch of other languages from the Mediterranean. It’s a peculiar combination of languages but so far, it’s one of the most interesting. While it’s easier to learn and understand, its highly unlikely that you will be able to communicate fluently with people speaking the same language but understanding how to speak the same might be a little daunting.
This is the only country in Africa where Spanish is an official language. The Equatorial Guinea has the most Spanish speakers as compared to any other country in Africa. Their dialect is a single dialect of Spanish in the country. Most people wonder how this Spanish dialect came into existence in a Sub Saharan African country. Well, the dialect is as a result of influence by the natives and German immigrants.
Central America Spanish accent
Central America is composed of the Spanish speaking nations of Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Each of these countries have their own dialects but their proximity to South America and North America plays a significant role. In Guatemala, their Spanish is closer to Mexican Spanish while the Panamanian Spanish is closely related to Colombian Spanish.
Most of the countries above such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, costa Rica and Honduras all use vos instead of the Argentina’s ‘tu’
The Chilean Spanish Dialect
Just like the Caribbean Spanish, Chilean Spanish is special and much more difficult.
One unique feature of the Chilean dialect is they pronounce ‘ch’ as ‘sh’ which makes Chile get pronounced as ‘Shi-le’. They are also notorious for cutting words. All the words ending with a vowel and followed by ‘do’ or ‘da’ eliminate the “d”. for example, words such as “fundido” sound like “fundio”, while “fracas ado sounds like “fracasao”. Another very important feature with the Chilean Spanish dialect is the difference between the accent on the second to the las vowel as this changes the entire meaning of the word.
In the southeast of Spain, there is an Autonomous Region of the Community of Murcia. They speak the Murcian dialect and it has not spread well to the rest of the world. It’s one of the smallest dialects of the Spanish language and one of the tough and most unique dialects known today. How these people were never heavily influenced by other dialects is still a mystery. However, these are secluded people who treasure their language and culture thus changing or influencing them tends to be hard as they don’t easily integrate with other people.
Other dialects of the Spanish language are created by the distinct language groups in Spain. They include Basque, the language of an isolate autonomous Spanish community in Pyrenees. Galician spoken in northwestern Spain which is a Portuguese influenced language, the Extremaduran a language branched into three spoken in an autonomous community of Extremadura in western Spain and the Catalan an official language in Andorra spoken in small parts of northern Spain.
Spanish is one of the most diverse languages in the world. It has many unique dialects each of which has its own features and specialty. Above are just some of the most common Spanish dialects in the world today. The number of Spanish dialects can’t be stated because its seen as a revolving language. It’s a language that is easily influenced by other languages hence creating a myriad of other dialects that we might not know about.
Before you decide to learn Spanish, it’s good to understand the dialect you are learning. Some of these are easy to learn and understand while others are a bit tough. To get to know the dialect to learn, choose one that has as many speakers as possible. The best being the original or the initial Spanish dialect spoken in Spain as well as the United States. All the other dialects can’t trace their roots from this dialect making it fun to learn and understand.