A Look at Some Spanish Dialects

One thing that is interesting once you learn to speak Spanish fairly well is that you can start to pick up the differences in various Spanish dialects. I am told that people who don’t know Spanish well can’t pick up the differences at all. Hearing a divergent Spanish dialect is a very strange experience. You hear Spanish words, but the accent is so off and weird that you think that they can’t possibly be speaking Spanish. A frequent mistake it to think that they are thinking some closely related Romance language like Catalan, French, Portuguese or Italian.

I’ve written about this before, but now that we have more Hispanics and even Mexican nationals reading the blog, maybe we can get some good feedback.

Mexican Spanish is fairly uniform at least around these parts. However, there are some differences.

Oaxacan Spanish: I have heard older Oaxacan Indians speaking a very strange and harsh form of Spanish. I assume it was some Oaxacan Indian Spanish.

Morelos Spanish: Spoken in the state of Morelos near just south of Mexico City. I heard a woman speaking this to her kid. She looked very White, and for some reason I thought she was Iranian. I listened to her for several minutes and I was sure she must have been speaking Farsi. However, she told me she was speaking Morelos Spanish. I looked it up on the Net and it is a distinctive dialect.

Jalisco Spanish: Spoken in the coastal state of Jalisco. This does seem different from the other varieties of Mexican Spanish. I heard a White looking guy speaking it in the store and I asked him what language he was speaking. He was speaking Jalisco Spanish. It had a very European sound to it – like Castillian or Catalan.

Veracruz Spanish: I was in a store and there was a guy on the phone speaking some strange language. There were Spanish words but the accent was insane. After a bit, I said, “No way are you speaking Spanish.” The guy practically fell over himself laughing and he said he was indeed. He looked sort of South Indian, so I thought he was speaking some Indian language like Hindi.

He said he spoke regular Spanish, but he came from the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and he was talking to someone from there, and he was speaking Mexican Caribbean Spanish. This is the most whacked version of Mexican Spanish I have ever heard.

Guatemalan Spanish: A neighbor speaks this. It’s Spanish all right, but it’s not Mexican Spanish at all. Has an odd but recognizable accent. And she speaks incredibly fast and slurs her words together in the worst way.

Salvadoran Spanish: Different from Mexican Spanish, but not dramatically so. It’s immediately identifiable as Spanish.

Puerto Rican Spanish: Caribbean Spanish in general is just nuts. I heard a group of mixed race folks speaking it at a store. I listened for a while, very confused. Then I walked over to them and asked if they were speaking Portuguese, because that was what it sounded like. They said they were speaking Puerto Rican Spanish. The mixed race group had not a trace of racism, and among them were some of the most dignified looking Blacks or mulattoes I have ever seen. A quiet dignity you rarely see in US Blacks.

Colombian Spanish: One of the strangest Spanishes of them all. I knew an upper class Colombian woman from the Zona Rosa in the north of Bogota. She spent about half her time in Spain. She had the sexiest, most breathiest Spanish I have ever heard, almost like a super sexy French accent. It was also very European sounding. It had a very Castillian and almost French flavor to it. I heard her sister talk too, and she talked exactly the same way.

She used to write me emails, and I couldn’t make heads or toes of the Spanish because it was so full of figures of speech, slangs and colloquialisms. Running it through a translator was useless. For all intents and purposes, she wasn’t even writing in Spanish.

I was at a store and a group of Colombians was in line, all young adults. I heard Spanish words, but the accent was so whacked that I thought it had to be something else. I approached them and asked if they were speaking Italian, because that is what it sounded like. They laughed and said they were speaking Colombian Spanish.

Once again, this was a very sensual language. The 30-something beauty talking to me seemed like she was openly flirting with me, but finally I thought that was just how she talked. They were all talking like they were either heading to an orgy or just got back from one, but once again, I think that was the way they talked all the time. These people live in their bodies, fully sensual, and the language pumps right out of their emotional heart. The words seem to sway and move with their bodies. One sexy language!

I recently heard another woman speaking Colombian Spanish, this time from the Caribbean coast. A fruity, delightful language with words that sway in the sun on the golden sands. A sound as juicy as papayas, mangoes and bananas. You want to reach out and grab the words as they fly through the air and take a bite of them.

Peruvian Spanish: I knew some Peruvian women and used to talk to them a lot. The Spanish is not too crazy accentwise, but it has a ton of slangs in it. They didn’t really speak English, so they couldn’t explain what the slangs meant. One thing was that they spoke very, very fast! I kept telling them to slow down, but they could not seem to slow it down no matter how many times you asked. Peruvian has only one speed – very fast.

Chilean Spanish: Sounds very Castillian, but it’s immediately recognizable as Spanish. One problem is the mountain of slang in this dialect. I don’t think there is any Spanish that has as much slang as Chilean. It’s literally chock full of all kinds of weird slangs. They are also the pickiest Spanish speakers I have ever met. Almost like the French, almost correcting your Spanish. Most Spanish speakers are very gracious, but Chileans want you to speak it right!

Argentine Spanish: This is one weird Spanish. You hear it spoken and you hear Spanish words, but the people speaking it look like Europeans and the accent sounds Italian! Or sometimes it sounds like some other European language – Catalan, French or Castillian. This is one insanely whacked out Spanish!

Catalonian Spanish: I heard a group speaking this, and I thought no way is that Spanish. I asked them what they were speaking, and they said Spanish. They said they were from Catalonia. Their Spanish sounded like Catalan! It didn’t sound like Spanish at all. This was one of the bizarrest Spanishes I have ever heard.

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9 thoughts on “A Look at Some Spanish Dialects”

  1. To a Mexican, “bicho” means a bug. To others, it means variously “penis” or “vagina”. That can get embarrassing if don’t know and say you love bichos.
    Mexicans will sometimes respond to Gracias with “de nalgas” which sounds like “you’re welcome” Denada, but means “my testicles”.
    A Hue (pronounced way) is a beast of burden, but Mexicans will use it to mean a very stupid person.

    1. I am from Mexico and never heard “de nalgas” as a response to Gracias, although it does sound somewhat similar to the conventional response “de nada”, so maybe it is used in some parts of Mexico. Also it doesn’t mean testicles it means buttocks or butt, i don’t know how to translate it but i think you get the meaning. The vulgar phrase to say testicles is “huevos” which also mean eggs.

      And the word you mention (Hue), we write it as wey, and you are right it is pronounced as way and the right meaning is a beast of burden. Although it indeed is used in some contexts to mean that somebody is very stupid, it also is used in non-offensive and is very casual to call a friend like that, wey, i think the equivalent in american english will be something like “dude”.

      From my point of view, in Mexico i will say that there are 4 accents in Mexico: the neutral accent, which is used in the center and some parts in the southwest, this maybe is the most neutral accent you will find; the norteño, which as its name says is used in most of the north of Mexico; the Coastal accent, used in some parts of Veracruz, and in coastal zones of the south; the Yucatan accent, very distinctive accent which you only heard in the Yucatan peninsule.

  2. For me, Caribbean Spanish is hard to understand. They delete consonants at the end of the word, speak fast and use lots of slang.

    Spanish in Catalonia for me was pretty easy to understand. Its sexy when the women say “vale” all the time.

  3. Bogota Spanish is the equivalent of Nebraska English in the sense that it contains almost no accent in the way it is used, although there are certain stylistic components to it, the words are pronounced in full unabbreviated forms, while many colloquialisms are used, it is considered one of the purest examples of Castillian and does not inordinately use the ‘ceceo’ or lisp of the Castilian spoken in Spain, in fact it is often referred to as Spanish without the lisp.

  4. In Argentina there is more that this Spanish that sound like Italian (that is from most part of the Pampean region, where is located Buenos Aires).

    In northeast (my region) sounds a bit like Guarani, so it’s similar to Paraguayan Spanish (that it’s very influenced by Guarani, that in this country is a official language and everybody use it, even more than Spanish -the other official language-, and many times use both combined).
    Also, in a little part of this region (border with Brazil in Misiones province), sounds similar to Portuguese, and many people use both languages combined, making a dialect called “portuñol” (like you have Spanglish in some areas), that is a word that combined words “portugués” (Portuguese) and “español” (Spanish).

    In most part of northwest, Spanish sounds similar to Spanish from south of Bolivia (which is influenced by Quechua and Aymara languages).

    In west-center of Argentina (Cuyo region), sounds like Spanish from center of Chile.

    In the Patagonia, sounds like a mix of Spanish from Pampean region and from Spanish of south of Chile.

    In center-north of the country, there is a particular accent from the north of Cordoba province (that is part of Pampean region) and La Rioja province, and another particular accent from Santiago del Estero province (that is part of the northwest, but in the south of that region).

    But I never heard that someone says that some Spanish accent from Argentine sounds like French or Catalan.

    1. And Castillian is just another name for Spanish (in Argentina is mose used the word “Castillian” than Spanish for this language).

      Anyway, probably there is some particular Spanish accent in Castile and Leon or Castile-La Mancha.

      1. Manchengo is spoken in the La Mancha. If you speak the hard form of Manchengo and go to Madrid, you will not be understood!

        There is no real dialect in Castille.

    2. Sometimes I hear a totally crazy form of Spanish that doesn’t even seem like Spanish to me. For instance, I hear what sounds like Spanish words, but the accent is so crazy that I think no way is this Spanish. So then I think maybe they are speaking Catalan, French, Italian, etc.

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