Have you ever wondered why the Spanish talk in a Mexican telenovela is different from the one of a Spanish show? It is not about magic, but it is the consequence of the linguistic evolution, the cultural influences and the regional characteristics. From iNMSOL we want to show you some examples of the lexical differences between vocabulary in Spain and Latin America.
Vocabulary: same words, different worlds
Vocabulary changes constantly and sometimes the same words can have different meanings, or even opposite.
- Coche vs. Carro: In Spain, a car is a “coche”, while in a large part of Latin America is a “carro”.
- Móvil vs. Celular: the Spanish call “móvil” the mobile phone, while in Latin America is more common “celular”.
Grammar: Small variations that make a difference
Although the difference is not evident, there are some important differences.
- Vosotros vs. Ustedes: In Spain, “vosotros” is used to refer to the plural of “tú.” In Latin America, “ustedes” is the preferred form, both in a formal and informal context.
- Leísmo: In some regions of Spain, especially in the north, it is common to use “le” como direct object pronoun to refer to a male person, which is not the case in América Latina
Pronuncia: Tra ceceos, seseos e distinzoni
This is one of the most distinctive aspects between the two variants.
- Ceceo and Seseo:While in most areas of Spain a distinction is made between the pronunciation of “c” (first e,i) and “z” (ceceo) of an “s” (seseo), in Latin America there is generally no distinction.
- Pronuncia de la “j”: In Spain, the “j” has a louder, raucous sound, similar to the “j” in “jalapeño.” In Latin America, the sound is softer, similar to the “h” in English.
- Why are there so many differences in vocabulary? History and cultural influences play a key role. While Spain has had European influences, Latin America has had its own cultural interactions, including indigenous ones, that have enriched its vocabulary.
- Is it difficult for a Latin American to understand peninsular Spanish? (And vice versa) In general, no. Despite the differences, the core of the language is the same. What can happen is that initially some words or expressions come across as curious.
- Which variant is the correct one? All of them and none! Each variant of Spanish is rich and valid and each is correct in its own context.
Spanish, with all its facets, brings together all the diversity of the countries that speak it. Whether you are enjoying a paella in Valencia or dancing the cumbia in Cartagena, it is fascinating to realize how much a language can unite us and at the same time reflect our uniqueness. So whether you are a peninsular Spanish fanatic or prefer the Latin American flavor, there is always something new to learn and discover in this vast language. Long live all shades of Spanish!