In English, we have many different accents across many different English-speaking countries: Deep-south, New York, Canadian, Scottish, Northern Irish, Southern Irish, Welsh, East London, Queen’s English, Scouse, Geordie, Yorkshire, Dorset…..just to mention a few. Now that you’ve started your Spanish classes, have you ever wondered if this is the case for all languages? Does Spanish have distinct accents in different parts of all the Spanish-speaking countries? Well, quite simply, the answer is yes and it probably has just as many as English does, if not more.
In South America, settlers intermarried with the indigenous people who were already living there, which means that the Spanish that is spoken in Latin America has been influenced, both in terms of accent and also in terms of vocabulary, by indigenous languages. Most indigenous languages in Latin America are extinct and those that are left are now endangered – by far Spanish is the first language for the majority of South Americans. However, over time their accent has become distinct from that of Spain. Likewise, once South American countries gained independence they had less and less reason to communicate and operate with the Spanish, and considering the great distance between Spain and South America, Latino Spanish and mainland Spanish have become unique, yet they continue to be mutually intelligible.
There are some countries that have more distinct accents than others. For example, it is much easier to distinguish an Argentinian accent among a group of Spanish speakers, than it may be to distinguish someone who is from a country in Central America. Argentinians have distinctive features such as pronouncing “ll” and “y” as “shhh” as well as using “vos”. Interestingly, “vos” is thought to have come from old Spanish and has been retained in Spanish in Argentina and some other Latin American countries, but has disappeared entirely from Spanish spoken in Spain. Many aspects of Argentinian accents are said to derive from Italian, when there was a mass of Italian immigration in the early 1900s.
Likewise, it has been noticed that there is a divide between countries in South America that have been influenced by Argentinian Spanish and have picked up Argentinian expressions, aspects of their accent, and vocabulary, which includes countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. On the other hand, countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela have not been influenced by the Argentinians but rather by Colombian Spanish, as these countries (except Peru), used to make up the La Gran Colombia before their independence.
Likewise, in Spain, there are many regional aspects that have influences from their regional languages. For example, people from Barcelona tend to have a specific accent in Spanish, which has influences from Catalán, which is distinct to those from Galicia who speak Gallego, and those who come from Valencia and speak Valencian.
If you are interested in learning more about different Spanish accents or perfecting your own, don’t hesitate to mention it to your Spanish tutor and we’ll help you to come up with a customised plan to meet your needs and expectations!