Spanish Dialects and Varieties

Spanish dialects and varieties are the regional variants of the Spanish language, some of which are quite divergent from one another, especially in pronunciation and vocabulary, and less so in grammar.

While all Spanish dialects use the same written standard, all spoken varieties differ from the written variety, in different degrees. There are differences between European Spanish (also called Peninsular Spanish) and the Spanish of the Americas, as well as many different dialect areas both within Spain and within Spanish America.

Prominent differences of pronunciation among dialects of Spanish include:

  1. the maintenance vs. loss of distinction between the phonemes /θ/ and /s/ (distinción vs. seseo);
  2. the maintenance or loss of distinction between phonemes represented orthographically by ll and y (yeísmo);
  3. the maintenance of syllable-final vs. its weakening to (called aspiration, or the more precise term debuccalization), or its loss; and
  4. the tendency, in areas of central Mexico and of the Andean highlands, to reduction (especially devoicing), or loss, of unstressed vowels, mainly when they are in contact with voiceless consonants.

Among grammatical features, the most prominent variation among dialects is in the use of the second-person pronouns. In most of Spain, the informal second-person plural pronoun is vosotros, while in Spanish America the only second-person plural pronoun, for both formal and informal registers, is ustedes. And for the second-person singular familiar pronoun, some dialects use (and its associated verb forms), while others use either vos (see voseo) or both and vos (which, together with usted, can make for a possible three-tiered distinction of formalities).

There are significant differences in vocabulary among regional varieties of Spanish, particularly in the domains of food products, everyday objects, and clothes; and many Latin American varieties show considerable lexical influence from Native American languages.

Read more about Spanish Dialects And VarietiesVocabulary, Mutual Comprehension

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