Spanish has 470 million speakers, and of course not all of them sound the same. There are countless regional accents and we’ll try to teach you how to recognize the most common ones!
Accents in Spain
Like every country, Spain is home to many Spanish accents. And while we won’t explore every country at length, understand the differences between distinct Spanish regions is key to grasp the wide variety of accents throughout Latin America. Countries where the population was mainly of Andalucía or from the Canary Islands, for example, developed an accent quite similar to that of Southern Spain.
Andaluz (from Andalucía)
In Andalucía, it’s common to use “ustedes” instead of “vosotros”, which also happens in many Latin American Spanish variants. You might also notice that a lot Southern Spaniards seem to drop the letters ‘s’ and ‘z’ at the end of the words (e.g. las cosas son buenas en Badajoz), cut the ‘d’ in the last syllable (e.g. supermerca’o, habla’o) and use seseo (e.g. “casa” and “caza” sound alike). So at times it can sound like: Uste’e han i’o a E’paña e’te Verano, le ha gu’ta’o?
Andalusian people migrated to Canary Islands, taking their accent with them. When people from the Canary Islands emigrated to the Caribbean, the accent crossed the ocean and originated many well known Caribbean variants.
Argentina and Uruguay use a ‘sh’ sound that no one else uses, so it’s the easiest way to spot them. ‘Ll’ and ‘y’ are easily replaced with ‘sh’, so words like ‘pollo’, ‘llama’, ‘ya’ and ‘ayuda’ are replaced with ‘posho’, ‘shama’, ‘sha’ and ‘ashuda’. Besides these changes, Argentinians use the word ‘acá’ and ‘vos’ instead of ‘vosotros’, which is pretty unique. This is a result of a melting pot of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese migrants.
Watch the video to listen to the differences between the accent in Spain and in Argentina, plus a few expressions.
Dominican Republic Accent
When we talk about Caribbean Spanish, it’s common to think about Dominican Spanish. And while Dominican is a great sample of the Caribbean accent, it retains some unique characteristics as well. Most second-language speakers consider Dominicans speak really fast, and it probably helps their constant removal of the last part of the word too. But what makes it really distinct is the replacement of ‘i’ for ‘r’ in some regions of the country, while around the capital the usual replacement is ‘l’ for ‘r’.
Mexicans are famous for speaking fast and until they are out of breath, which happens mostly because several Mexican dialects exhale the ‘S’. However, all ‘s’ are pronounced: quite a rarity in Latin America. The overall accent is also influenced by sounds of the native languages, as in the name of Mexico itself (that almost sounds like ‘Mejico’).
Venezuelans often shorten words by cutting the last syllable all together (eg. ‘para’ > ‘pa’), drop the ‘d’ between vowels and ‘s’ at the end of the words. Just like Andalusian and Canarian Spanish, speakers tend to use seseo. Also like Andalusian Spanish, Venezuelans use yeísmo, which means ‘ll’ and ‘y’ sound alike (e.g. ‘calló’ and ‘cayó’ are homophones). You might also notice that Venezuelans tend to use -ico and -ica to form the diminutive of the words. As for cursing words, vaina is the word you’ll find here.