When working with the Spanish language, are there major differences between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish? We asked la Academia Director Ruben Cnobel for his take on the question, and to point out pitfalls in Spanish to avoid.
First, Ruben says “Spanish is only one language, and the grammar is exactly the same in the whole Spanish speaking world, however there is a difference in the pronunciation of some words, mainly those with the letters c and s”.
Many speakers of Spanish in Spain pronounce the letter c as a th sound. So the word gracias – thank you – sounds like “grathyas”, whereas in latin America it sounds like “grassyas”
“There are also different options in different countries for the word you”: tú, usted, vos, vosotros, ustedes, are all used”. Latin American Spanish does not use vosotros (informal, meaning “you” in the plural), but the formal ustedes. Learners of European Spanish have to remember an extra verb ending that is not needed in Latin America for the informal form.
We asked Ruben which is the best sort of Spanish to learn? Are some forms of Spanish more appreciated than others? He told us “All Spanish is fun to learn, though as an Argentinean, I have to admit that I love that accent the best. Some people say that Colombian Spanish is clearer and more beautiful form of the language, and some appreciate the Spanish spoken in Madrid – it’s a bit like Oxford English – but none of that is what’s important – the key factor is what you are learning Spanish for”.
Ruben suggests you choose which region of the Spanish-speaking world you’d like to visit, and be sure that your teacher keeps you up to speed with local pronunciation where there are differences. “At la Academia, our teachers will explain these kinds of regional differences in Spanish, so it shouldn’t come as a shock wherever you travel”, he says. “But mention it when you start your lessons as the differences are fun to discuss in class”
Do you have a favourite Spanish accent? Let us know, and perhaps we’ll have a vote!