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.