Some Interesting Spanish Accents

In this part of California, we get lots of tourists. In addition, there are so many Spanish speakers that one may as well be living in a Hispanophone country. I have to remind people now and again that this is actually the USA and not Mexico. I was in the drugstore the other day and I made an official complaint to the manager. There were two aisle signs saying something about products being on sale. Only the Spanish side of the sign was visible. The English side of the side was leaning up against a row of shelves.

I complained and said that both languages should be visible. If the sign’s in Spanish, you ought to be able to walk around to the other side of the sign and read the English. They indulged me, but it’s an uphill battle around here. I think most of these damned Hispanics around here would be pleased as Punch if everything in town was in Spanish and nothing was in English. The majority of them are illegals anyway, and they are basically Mexicans first and Americans second, if at all.

Getting on to the accents.

The first one I heard was in the mountains. It was a group of tourists going to Yosemite. Some of them looked sort of Black (more like the sort of “mulattos” you see more in Latin America than in the US), others seemed sort of like Mediterranean Whites, but they didn’t look like they were from Europe.

They were speaking a Romance language that at first I thought was Portuguese. I heard these Spanish words, but lots of Romance languages sound Spanish. Thing is, if you hear Spanish words with a weird accent, you don’t think it’s Spanish. You think it’s another language. I asked them if they were speaking Portuguese. They laughed and said they were speaking Puerto Rican Spanish. It was very different!

The mulatto-looking man was a Dominican, and he was a very handsome, quiet, polite and dignified fellow in a particular manner that not many US Blacks are.

A while later, I heard another strange language. Once again, I started hearing some Spanish words, but something said it wasn’t Spanish. It sounded more like…Italian. There were a group of them, and they looked somewhat like Mediterranean Whites from Europe. They had a very “European” air about them. I asked them what they were speaking, Was it Italian? They laughed and said they were speaking Colombian Spanish.

They were from all over Colombia, Barranquilla, Bogota, and they had a very sensual, friendly, warm manner that one often finds in Mediterranean Europeans. The young woman in particular was almost seductive, but I wondered if it were more her nature than a personal thing.

I once knew an upper class woman from Bogota who spoke the strangest yet most beautiful Spanish. It almost sounded like French or Catalan. It was one of the most sensual, seductive and sexy accents I have ever heard. I also spoke with some of her friends and relatives, and they were incredibly polite, and they also spoke with this odd accent. They showered praise and honorary adjectives on me that I don’t deserve. Upper class Colombians are some of the politest and most dignified people on Earth. What’s fascinating is that the nicest people around seem to spend most of their time slaughtering each other.

And just the other day, at the ATM, I heard another Romance language. An older couple, who looked a lot like Mediterranean Whites, were talking at the teller. The guy even wore a beret or fisherman’s cap like such men wear in Europe. I could not place the language, but once again it sounded like Portuguese or Italian, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what it was. I asked them what they were speaking, and the guy said Argentine Spanish. This is probably the weirdest Spanish or all. It sounds like Italian but with Spanish words!

Once again, the guy was effusive, friendly and warm in a way that we cold Nordics are not. He came over and put his hand on my shoulder and we had a nice talk.

Lots of funny Spanishes out there! All you have to do is open your ears.

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5 thoughts on “Some Interesting Spanish Accents”

  1. The thing is, if you don’t understand Spanish at the conversation level/speed, the intricacies of each dialect will fly over your head. I know a bit of Spanish, I can read some and can barely squeak by in Spanish speaking countries if people use only the most basic words and speak slowly to me. But once they start using normal conversation, it sounds like a blur. I’m not yet at a point where I can tell the various Spanish dialects apart. Just like a Spanish speaker learning English likely can’t tell apart an American, a Scottsman and an Australian, but as an American, I can barely even understand Scottish people at times. I think they definitely have the most difficult English to comprehend.

    1. You know what, you’re actually right. I forgot about them. Jamaican patois is practically another language at this point. Even written patois looks nothing like standard English anymore. Though many Jamaicans still speak normal English and can be easily understood.

  2. I grew up with lots of Puerto Ricans and Portuguese and I don’t think the languages sound alike at all, but that’s just me. It’s all about the /s/ and /sh/ sounds … Caribbean Spanish has hardly any, Portuguese has them all over the place. Caribbean Spanish does have the Portuguese /r/ type sounds though. (Hence the nickname “Puelto Jico”)

  3. This type of “Argentine Spanish” (that sounds like Italian) is from the Pampean region of the country (most populated by far), especially from Buenos Aires. In the Patagonia is similar.

    In my region (northeast) Spanish sounds like Guarani, similar to Paraguayan accent. In the northwest is similar to Bolivian accent (that have much influence from Quechua and Aymara), and in Cuyo region (western region) is similar to Chilean accent. And in the central region (northwest of Pampean region and southeast of northwest region) there are two or three different accents.

    But like the media is centralized in Buenos Aires, slowly all Argentines are talking a bit more similar to them, especially in upper class and many people from middle class, that usually see local accents like something awful for low class people, especially if is associated to some poor neighbour country like Paraguay, like here.

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