The Spanish language began to spread throughout the American continent —except the United States and Brazil— more than 500 years ago and, same as in English, Spanish is spoken in many countries alrededor del mundo (around the world), which means many different accents exist.
Mexican and Venezuelan accents
Mexico is so large that people from the North have a completely different accent than those in the South…
The variety of accents not only happens in Mexico: Latin America is also rich in accents, and you have probably noticed it already, since Spring Spanish Teacher Juan has a lovely cadence when speaking.
Argentinian and Uruguayan accents
Muchos de mis amigos extranjeros (many of my foreign friends) have asked me why Argentinians sound so different.
More specifically, they pronounce letters Y and LL differently. This is called “yeísmo” and it is more common in regions such as Argentina and Uruguay.
They also say “vos” instead of “tú”. This also has a name: “voseo” and it has to do with the way people spoke to each other, in a social context, at the time when the Spanish language was exported to Latin America with the arrival of the conquerors from Spain, and in some regions, it stayed like that.
Ahora vayamos al otro lado del charco (let's go to the other side of the pond), straight to Spain!
People in Spain pronounce letters C and Z as a [TH]. This is called “el ceceo”, and legend has it that it originated from a speech problem of a Spanish king, pero esto no es verdad (but this is not true)!
El ceceo didn't mysteriously get lost somewhere on its way to America, it basically never got on board!
Everything has to do with the moment in which the discovery and colonization of America happened. At that time, there were already two ways of speaking Spanish: one that was imposed in Madrid and another in Seville, in the South of Spain.
The point is that, in Seville, the Z and C were pronounced in a similar way to letter S, and that's where the main link with America was. In addition to this, there could also be a reason for practicality in the New World: unifying phonemes simplified things for the colonists who implanted Spanish, and for the indigenous people who learned it.
Nowadays there’s a lot of Spanish travelling around the world thanks to el regaetton, and puertorriqueños (Puerto Ricans) seem to have a fight with letter R, as they usually replace it with an L.
This replacement of R for L is called lambdacismo, a phonetic phenomenon that consists in pronouncing letter L when there is an R in the final position of a syllable. This is common in Cuba, Puerto Rico y República Dominicana (Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic), and other Caribbean islands.
FREE Spanish Training
¡Muy bien! ¿Cuál es tu acento favorito? Which one is your favorite accent? Let me know in the comments, y te reto a que imites todos los acentos (and I dare you to imitate these accents!)
Feel free to check out the other videos from me and the other Spring Spanish teachers on our channel.
We also have a free, more in-depth Spanish training on our website where you'll discover the method we use in our Spring Spanish Academy to teach students to speak fluent Spanish. You also get some free sample Spanish lessons there that come straight from our Academy!