Different Speaking Speeds in Spanish (how fast can you follow?)

Different Speaking Speeds in Spanish (how fast can you follow?)

Voy al súper, avísame si necesitas algo.
(I’m going to the supermarket, let me know if you need anything.)

¿Qué?
(What?)

Que voy al súper, avísame si necesitas algo.
(”That” I’m going to the supermarket, let me know if you need anything. )

Ah, dale.
(Oh, ok.)

Is speed one of your handicaps? ¿Te parece que el español es muy rápido? (Do you think Spanish is too fast?)

Soy Maura, de Spring Spanish, and in this video, you’ll be able to test your Spanish comprehension speed. I’ll show you my actual natural speed and accent and we’ll find out which Spanish is the fastest and why. ¡Empecemos!

1. How fast are different Spanish?

Primero (first), you do have to take into account that every single country has many, many regions inside with different accents and speeds. Hablemos de esto por un momento. (Let’s talk about this for a moment.)

Some places take shortcuts, others use words from other languages, others change their pronunciation a lot. Todas estas variables afectan la percepción de la velocidad. (All of these variables affect the perception of speed.)

Ahora (now), I did do some research about this. No obstante, siguen siendo consideraciones muy generales. (Nonetheless, these are still very general considerations.) Since I’m a very visual person, te hice un mapa de latinoamérica con diferentes colores para diferentes velocidades. (I made you a map of Latin America with different colors for different speeds.)

  • Rojo (Red): Estos son tus países hispanohablantes más rápidos, de nuevo, en promedio. (These are your faster Spanish speaking countries, again, in average.) Como pueden ver (As you can see), they’re either in the Caribbean or down in the South.

Lugares como (Places like) República Dominicana and Puerto Rico not only speak fast, but they take a lot of shortcuts. They drop sounds like the “S” at the end of plurals, like: las cosas (the things) and the “D” at the end of: salado (salty).

Lugares como (Places like) Argentina and Uruguay change their pronunciation a lot from “mainstream” Spanish. También, como tienen un tono muy musical y rítmico, puede ser que las cosas parezcan más rápidas si no estás familiarizado. (Also, as they have a very musical and rhythmic tone, things might seem faster if you’re not familiar.) Paraguay and Chile are each their own little universe. Paraguay includes a lot of Guaraní (their indigineous language) in their Spanish, and Chile… well, they’re just very, very, very fast.

  • Naranja (Orange): estos todavía están entre los “más rápidos”. (these are still among the “fastest”.) Some of us do drop the “S” at the end a little bit.

También (also), places like Nicaragua use “vos” (you) instead of “tú” (you), which might throw you off a bit. Mexico mixes a lot on indigeneous words and, como (like) Venezuela, there’s also a considerable amount of Spanglish in there.

  • Amarillo (Yellow): here are those considered more neutral in both speed and accent.

Tienden a ser más lentos y precisos en la pronunciación. (They tend to be slower and more precise in pronunciation.) By precise I mean less deviation from the basic sounds we learn when we learn Spanish. Lugares como (Places like) Bolivia and Perú love diminutives, so you’ll hear a ton of things like:

  • despacito (slow)
  • pequeñito (small)
  • calorcito (hot)

Le pedí a mis queridas Marías, de Español con María y a nuestra María Fernanda, hacer un pequeño experimento conmigo. (I asked my dear Marias, from Spanish with Maria and our own Maria Fernanda, to do a little experiment with me.) Y los resultados son: (And the results are:)

  • Por Colombia, María, de Español con María: 186 words per minute. If you don’t know María yet, you should. We’ll leave her information in the description.
  • Por México, María Fernanda: 155 words per minute.
  • Por Venezuela, Maura: 190 words per minute. También ten en cuenta que para el canal, yo suelo neutralizar mi español un poco. (Also keep in mind that for the channel, I tend to neutralize my Spanish a bit.) We’ll talk about that later.

No pongo las manos al fuego por la exactitud de estos números. (I don’t put my neck on the line (Lit.: I don’t put my hands on fire) for the accuracy of these numbers). But I do find it curious that our numbers are close to each other and we are supposed to be the mid-level countries, when it comes to speed.

2. Is Spanish a fast language?

Como este video es todo sobre la velocidad (Since this video is all about speed), you should stick around till the end. We’ve created a little test so you can follow me through different speeds and rate yourself.

Ahora (now), you might already know this, but just to make sure we’re all on the same page: languages appear faster to non-speakers. Todos los idiomas, sin distinción. (All languages, regardless.) Habiendo dicho eso (That being said), I found some interesting studies where they found some differences between the following 7 languages:

  • Japonés (Japanese): 7.84 syllables/second
  • Español (Spanish): 7.82 syllables/second
  • Francés (French): 7.18 syllables/second
  • Italiano (Italian): 6.99 syllables/second
  • Inglés (English): 6.19 syllables/second
  • Alemán (German): 5.97 syllables/second
  • Vietnamita (Vietnamese): 5.22 syllables/second
  • Mandarín (Mandarin): 5.18 syllables/second

En cuanto al español (When it comes to Spanish), you could also ask Chat GPT and it will tell you that: “…on average, a fluent Spanish speaker can speak around 5-7 syllables per second, which translates to approximately 150-210 words per minute (wpm). If you don’t know what Chat GPT is yet or you don’t know how to use it to improve your Spanish, you should definitely check out the video I made about it right here. ¿Recuerdas que me cronometré? (Remember I timed myself?) Bueno (Well), I’m actually at 190 words per minute in my most natural speed, lo que me hace aburridamente promedio. (which makes me boringly average.)

De esto podemos deducir que el español, en general, es más rápido que el inglés (From this we can gather that Spanish, in general, is faster than English.) But the difference isn’t all that crazy. One of the explanations is the difference in the amount of information per syllable of these two languages. Esta cantidad de información por sílaba (This amount of information per syllable) is called density, if you care to know.

So, here’s my natural speaking speed and untouched accent:

¿Y entonces? Yo creo que tienes que organizarte con los demás. Que vengan primero para la casa y de aquí salen todos juntos. Igual ese sitio queda súper cerca de aquí.
(So? I think you have to organize yourself with the others. Let them come first to the house and from here you all leave together. Anyway, that place is very close to here.)

This is how, per your request, I tend to speak in our videos:

¿Y entonces? Yo creo que tienes que organizarte con los demás. Que vengan primero para la casa y de aquí salen todos juntos. Igual ese sitio queda súper cerca de aquí.
(So? I think you have to organize yourself with the others. Let them come first to the house and from here you all leave together. Anyway, that place is very close to here.)

Como yo hablo en nuestros videos (How I speak in our videos) would definitely be considered a person who speaks rather slowly, but still within the natural range. Y mi velocidad natural (And my natural speed) is actually considered fast by a lot of native speakers.

Al mismo tiempo (At the same time), it wouldn’t make any sense for me to speak even slower to you guys. En realidad les estaría desfavoreciendo. (It would actually be to your disadvantage.) You can check out this video where I covered why in depth.

3. Test your listening speed in Spanish

Alright! Hora de ponerte a prueba. (Time to test yourself.) The idea is that you ignore the subtitles, of course. Let me kno:w in the comments what’s the fastest you can still follow.

Level 1: 160 words per minute.

REPORTER

Vamos a entrevistar a algunas personas para saber de dónde nos visitan. ¡Muy buenos días!
(We are going to interview some people to find out where they visit us from. A very good morning!)

Buenos días.
(Good morning.)

Cuéntenos, ¿de dónde nos visita?
(Tell us, where are you visiting us from?)

Bueno, yo soy latinoamericana. La verdad tengo mucho tiempo viniendo de vacaciones a esta ciudad. Tengo un montón de familia y amigos que viven aquí. Además me encanta el clima y el ambiente. A veces pienso si debería mudarme yo también. Pero al final, el hogar puede más y he preferido quedarme en donde estoy. Venir para acá de vacaciones me permite tener lo mejor de ambos mundos.
(Well, I am Latin American. I have been coming to this city on vacation for a long time. I have a lot of family and friends who live here. I also love the weather and the atmosphere. Sometimes I think if I should move here too. But in the end, home is more important and I have preferred to stay where I am. Coming here on vacation allows me to have the best of both worlds.)

Level 2: 190 words per minute.

¡Buenos días! Cuéntenos, ¿de dónde nos visits?
(Good morning! Tell us, where are you visiting us from?)

¡Hola a todos! ¡Buenos días! Yo soy de Caracas, Venezuela. Nunca había venido para acá, pero siempre había querido. Era un viaje pendiente desde el bachillerato. Sinceramente, no debí esperar tanto, pero igual valió la pena. Llevo unos cuatro días aquí y he hecho de todo. No he parado. De todas formas, voy a pasar un par de semanas más, así que ya tendré tiempo de descansar un poquito. Ya sabes cómo es. A veces uno necesita vacaciones de las vacaciones.
(Hello everyone! Good morning! I am from Caracas, Venezuela. I had never come here before, but I had always wanted to. It was a pending trip since high school. Honestly, I shouldn’t have waited so long, but it was still worth it. I’ve been here for about 4 days and I’ve done everything. I haven’t stopped. Anyway, I’m going to be here for a couple more weeks, so I’ll have time to rest a bit. You know how it is. Sometimes you need a vacation from vacation.)

Level 3: 250 words per minute.

¡Hola, hola! ¿Le importa si la entrevistamos? Cuéntenos de dónde nos visita.
(Hello, hello! Do you mind if we interview you? Tell us where you are visiting us from.)

¡Claro! Tú pregúntame lo que quieras que a mi me encanta una cámara. Yo soy Tatiana y vengo del mar caribe, a ver si les traigo un poquito de sol y arena. Yo vine por mis hermanas, que se morían por hacer un viaje juntas. A mí no me lo tienen que pedir dos veces. Apenas se atojaron, yo hice mi maleta y compré mi pasaje. ¡Y aquí estamos! Bueno, yo, porque ellas andan por ahí haciendo una cola kilométrica para comprar unas entradas.
(Of course! Ask me whatever you want, I love a camera. I’m Tatiana and I come from the Caribbean Sea, to see if I can bring you a little bit of sun and sand. I came for my sisters, who were dying to make a trip together. They don’t have to ask me twice. As soon as they agreed, I packed my suitcase and bought my ticket. And here we are! Well, me, because they are over there standing in line for miles to buy some tickets.)

So? I’m dying to know how you did! I did my best to give you three noticeable different speeds while keeping the same accent and pronunciation.

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