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Differences in Spanish from Country to Country?


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My son (who is 3) and I are learning Spanish together.  We live in the Southwestern United States and I was wondering what the differences are between Mexican Spanish and Spanish that is spoken in Spain?  We live only a few hours from Mexico, so obviously our focus is on the Mexican dialect and grammar.

However, I would like to be aware (and have my son be aware) of the differences in Spanish.  I know a great deal about the differences between American English and British English (as I am an American in love with British culture, literature, and TV).  The differences in spellings and grammar are outstanding!

I'm making the assumption that Spanish is much the same way.  Is there anything in particular I should look out for?  (I would hate to offend anybody) or does anyone know of any resources that cover such material?  Any help would be much appreciated.

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Well, the pronunciation is quite different, the Spanish spoken in Spain sounds quite different form the one spoken in Mexico, plus they use different words and conjugate verbs differently.  Even some of their pronouns are different, like ''vostros, vosotras, etc''.  That can be quite confusing. 

Fortunately most Spanish courses I've encountered were in Latin American Spanish.  So yay for those wanting to learn it, including my SO. If you have any questions let me know, I'm a native Spanish speaker.

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I think some countries have more slang than others. While others are considered to speak more ¨proper¨ Spanish. Spain uses vosotros, while Latin America doesn't. I think Catalan is widely considered the ¨best¨ form of the language.

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Well, the pronunciation is quite different, the Spanish spoken in Spain sounds quite different form the one spoken in Mexico, plus they use different words and conjugate verbs differently.  Even some of their pronouns are different, like ''vostros, vosotras, etc''.  That can be quite confusing. 

Fortunately most Spanish courses I've encountered were in Latin American Spanish.  So yay for those wanting to learn it, including my SO. If you have any questions let me know, I'm a native Spanish speaker.

Thank you.  We only live a few hours from Mexico, so obviously our emphasis on what they use in South America.  However, we would like to take a trip to Europe in a few years (when the kids are older) and I was wondering what differences we would run into.

As a Native Spanish Speaker do you find the differences easy or difficult to contend with?  I'm a native English speaker and when I was in Europe, they spoke British English and I was able to quickly figure out what someone was saying (or trying to say), even though British English is different from American English.

I will probably take you up on your offer for questions.  :)

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Argentinan people have rounder (or bigger sounds) whereas people of Spain have smaller sounds. This is actually a bit difficult to explain, but Spanish speakers of Spain often speak similarly to the French (as in way of speaking). Their Cs and Ss and Zs are pronounced 'th' rather than 's'.

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Argentinan people have rounder (or bigger sounds) whereas people of Spain have smaller sounds. This is actually a bit difficult to explain, but Spanish speakers of Spain often speak similarly to the French (as in way of speaking). Their Cs and Ss and Zs are pronounced 'th' rather than 's'.

Forgive my ignorance in this matter, but does it then make it easier to learn French if you already know Spanish, because the way of speaking is similar?

I have heard people (and I don't know whether this is correct or not) say that once you know Spanish, you can pick up Portuguese in a heartbeat, since they are so close.  Would say that this is accurate or not at all?

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There's a lot of differences between Spain and Latin America alone and then there's differences between Latin American countries themselves. A main difference between Spain and LA as a whole is pronunciation, the pronunciation is very different especially when it comes to words with "Z" in it.

There's also a lot of different slang. A particularly egregious example is the word "coger". In Spain, "coger" is basically "to grab" while in Latin America it's basically "to have sex". We use words like "agarrar" in LA instead of "coger". You have to watch out for that one, seriously, unless you want people to think you like to have sex with everything!

Forgive my ignorance in this matter, but does it then make it easier to learn French if you already know Spanish, because the way of speaking is similar?

I have heard people (and I don't know whether this is correct or not) say that once you know Spanish, you can pick up Portuguese in a heartbeat, since they are so close.  Would say that this is accurate or not at all?

I don't know about French. I have a couple of Spanish-native friends who are studying French and find the grammar and pronunciation to be very different from Spanish. One pointed out that it was closer to English than Spanish.

Portuguese is relatively easy for Spanish-natives to pick up, yeah. It has some sounds that Spanish doesn't but a lot of words are similar and mean the same. Italian is similar in this sense, too. I honestly think this makes it kinda harder to learn the language though, since you are thinking about its similarities to Spanish and end up getting screwed by false friends and such.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you.  We only live a few hours from Mexico, so obviously our emphasis on what they use in South America.  However, we would like to take a trip to Europe in a few years (when the kids are older) and I was wondering what differences we would run into.

As a Native Spanish Speaker do you find the differences easy or difficult to contend with?  I'm a native English speaker and when I was in Europe, they spoke British English and I was able to quickly figure out what someone was saying (or trying to say), even though British English is different from American English.

I will probably take you up on your offer for questions.  :)

Hi! Well, no problem at all.  I can easily understand what spaniards, mexicans, colombians and others try to say to me all the time. The differences aren't big at all when it comes to listening and speaking it, but it's totally different if you are trying to pass a spelling or grammar test.  You guys will do fine! Just try to learn as much spanish as possible before the trip!

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The problem is usually within particular expressions of that country. For example "concha" in Venezuela means "fruit peel". In Argentina it can also mean "vagina". But in a normal conversation you will understand most of the time.

It happens in english as well. For example, I understand the expression "blow a fag" in England means "having a cigarette". In the US, though....

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There are several differences between the Spanish used in Spain and the Spanish used in Mexico. Someone mentioned that vosotros is only used in Spain, which is correct. Usted (used when speaking to older people or those in higher positions of power) and (used among friends) is used in other countries that speak Spanish, including Mexico. Also, the vocabulary used in Spain and Mexico is very different. For example, the word car has two different words in Spanish: In Spain, it's called el coche. In Mexico, car is translated to el carro. For the word cake, in Spain it is called la tarta or el bizcocho. In Mexico, I believe that el pastel is more common.

Hopefully, this will give you an idea on what to study. Good luck to you and your son!

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Forgive my ignorance in this matter, but does it then make it easier to learn French if you already know Spanish, because the way of speaking is similar?

I have heard people (and I don't know whether this is correct or not) say that once you know Spanish, you can pick up Portuguese in a heartbeat, since they are so close.  Would say that this is accurate or not at all?

Just my opinion, but Portugese is almost closer to Spanish in Spain, then Spanish in Spain is to Spanish in Central America... and once you get to Brazil, they all just merge together.

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The problem is usually within particular expressions of that country. For example "concha" in Venezuela means "fruit peel". In Argentina it can also mean "vagina". But in a normal conversation you will understand most of the time.

It happens in english as well. For example, I understand the expression "blow a fag" in England means "having a cigarette". In the US, though....

Hahaha, just the other day an Argentinian guy was talking about that one word ''concha'', because here in Mexico ''Concha'' is the name of a sweet bread! LOL.  I can see how things like that can cause big trouble, that is why I advice non natives not to use words they don't know well.

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  • 4 months later...

K

There are several differences between the Spanish used in Spain and the Spanish used in Mexico. Someone mentioned that vosotros is only used in Spain, which is correct. Usted (used when speaking to older people or those in higher positions of power) and (used among friends) is used in other countries that speak Spanish, including Mexico. Also, the vocabulary used in Spain and Mexico is very different. For example, the word car has two different words in Spanish: In Spain, it's called el coche. In Mexico, car is translated to el carro. For the word cake, in Spain it is called la tarta or el bizcocho. In Mexico, I believe that el pastel is more common.

Hopefully, this will give you an idea on what to study. Good luck to you and your son!

I have just finished a few language courses on spanish and now starting french and i find that there are a lot of similar words in spanish and english but the pronounciation is very different... what is the difference between " kastillano" and other spanish dialects?

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I also am from the southwestern U.S.  Without getting too technical the Spanish in Spain did not sound anything like Mexican Spanish to me.  It sounded like a mix of Italian and Arabic.  It didn't matter that they used Vostoros or different words for things because I couldn't understand ANYTHING!!!  I would say the difference in a standard Mexican Spanish accent compared to Span Spanish would be equal to the difference in west coast U.S. English compared to the thickest Scottish accent that you have ever heard.  IT's totally different sounding.

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There's also a lot of different slang. A particularly egregious example is the word "coger". In Spain, "coger" is basically "to grab" while in Latin America it's basically "to have sex". We use words like "agarrar" in LA instead of "coger". You have to watch out for that one, seriously, unless you want people to think you like to have sex with everything!

 

 

 

Yes, that is certainly something to watch out for.  I wouldn't want to accidentally ask, "Would you have sex with that pen for me?"  :)  Honestly, thank you for the tip.  That is very helpful.  

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All of my course books have always  been in the "classic" Spain's Spanish, only randomly pointing out the differences between Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.

However, it looks to me that, certain differences aside, once you know some Spanish, you'll get by in any country. I can still understand Latin American songs and  watch some Mexican and Argentinian soap operas :) The accent is different but most words stay the same.

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