¿Habla Usted Español? Do You Speak Spanish? Which one? How Many Spanish Dialects in the World?
Spanish comes in many flavors. There are several Spanish dialects and accents spoken around the globe. Discover the varieties of Español spoken in a different part of the planet.
How many different dialects of Spanish are there?
With over 20 Spanish-speaking countries and Puerto Rico, there is roughly 500 million Spanish speaking population globally.
It means that there is no one standard Spanish dialect in the world. There is a wide range of Spanish dialects around the globe.
The traditional Spanish in Spain is also referred to as “Castellano” (or “Castilian” in English). The dialect spoken in Northern Spain is considered the most popular one.
A dialect is defined in linguistic terms is a form or variety of a language spoken in a particular area. There are numerous Spanish versions or dialects around the world.
However, one should not mix up the different dialects in Spain with the other languages spoken in the Peninsula: Spanish, Catalan, Occitan, Asturian, Basque, and Galician.
The existence of dialects is a natural consequence of the dynamism of languages.
For example, Spanish has adopted unique characteristics in the different places where it is spoken throughout its evolution.
A. How many Spanish dialects are there in Spain?
The answer to the above question is: There are seven major Spanish dialects in the world. Español Ibérico (o Español Europeo) is useful in Spain and neighboring countries.
Spanish (Castilian), spoken by about 99% of Spaniards as a first or second language, Catalan / Valencian is spoken by 17%, Galician by 7%, and Basque by 2% of the population in Spain.
Some of the varieties are Andalusian (in Andalusia), Canarian (from the Canary Islands), Castilian (in northern and central Spain including Madrid), Castrapo (in Galicia), Castúo (in the autonomous community of Extremadura).
Besides, there are Spanish by Catalan-speakers in Catalonia, the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, Andorra, and the easternmost areas of Aragon, and Murcian (Spoken mainly in the autonomous community of Murcia), to name a few.
B. Spanish Dialects and Varieties in Latin America
As a result of Christopher Columbus’ discoveries and the subsequent colonization of South and Central America in the late 15th century, Spanish spread across the whole continent (except for a few countries, such as Brazil).
The different Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America also present national and regional variations.
Thus, we can speak of an Argentinean, a Porteo (from Buenos Aires city), a Chilean, or a Colombian dialect, among others.
The main difference is between European and the Spanish spoken in Latin America, but there are also variances within each region.
The good news is that all Spanish dialects use the same written standard and are mutually intelligible.
However, that does not mean that a single version of your Spanish document or survey will do in any Spanish-speaking country.
1. Mexican Spanish (Español Mexicano)
Mexico is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. It is not surprising then to find that there are various Spanish dialects spoken throughout the country.
This dialect is popular in Mexico and some parts of the United States and Canada.
Mexican Spanish differs from the Spanish spoken in many other countries in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.
2. Central American Spanish (español o Castellano Centroamericano)
This dialect is spoken in Central America, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, and the USA.
In many parts of Central America, “s” isn’t always pronounced, and some other syllables can go missing.
3. Andean Spanish (Español Andino)
Andean Spanish is a Spanish dialect spoken in the central Andes, some parts of western Venezuela, southern Colombia, northern Chile, northwestern Argentina, and Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
Andean Spanish is often considered the “purest” and best spoken Spanish in the Western Hemisphere.
Spanish in the Andean regions of these countries tends to be clear, well-articulated, and straightforward.
4. Rioplatense Spanish (Español Rioplatense)
This dialect is expressed in Argentina and Uruguay.
Rioplatense is mainly based in Buenos Aires, Rosario, Santa Fe, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Bahía Blanca in Argentina, and Montevideo in Uruguay, the most populated cities in the dialectal area, along with their respective suburbs and the regions in between.
This dialect is heavily influenced by Italians who settled the area in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The intonation of its speakers reflects Italian.
5. Caribbean Spanish (Español Caribeño)
This dialect is widespread in the Caribbean region (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and in Panama, Venezuela, and the Caribbean coast of Colombia).
The words are generally shorter since few consonants like R, D, S, etc., are omitted during the speaking.
“R” is often pronounced “X” and aspirated, especially in Puerto Rico.
One main reason for the difference between European Spanish and the Caribbean’s vocabulary is that many words have been borrowed from the local languages.
6. Chilean Spanish (Español Chileno)
It is one of the multiple varieties of Spanish spoken in Chile.
Over several centuries, It is influenced by indigenous languages like Quechua and Mapudungun and by other European languages from the waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Chilean Spanish dialects have distinctive pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and slang usage that differ from standard Spanish or neighboring countries.
It is also notorious for its high use of slang and local expressions, making it tricky and complicated for foreigners to understand.
On top of that, their pronunciation is as fast as a machine gun.
7. Colombian Spanish (Español Colombiano)
There are many varieties of Spanish spoken in Colombia.
The term is more geographical than linguistic relevance since the dialects spoken in the various regions of Colombia are quite diverse.
Several other dialects are spoken in different parts of South America, namely Spanish of Paraguayo, Amazónico, Uruguayo, Venezolano, Bolivian, and many more.
Almost all Latin-Americans understand each other pretty well without complaining about the accent.
C. Spanish in the Philippines (Español Filipino)
The Philippines has about 2 million Chavacano speakers, a Spanish-based creole that developed in the southern Philippines.
Due to the historical roots, the Spanish have left their presence in the Filipino culture during the colonial era.
There are thousands of Spanish loanwords in the Filipino languages. Because of the traditional base and the similarities shared by these languages, It is admitted in written legal documents and courts of law.
D. Spanish in Equatorial Guinea (Español Ecuatoguineano)
This dialect represents the only official Spanish spoken in Africa; it has incorporated some vocabulary and pronunciation patterns from native Guineans and immigrant Germans of Cameroon.
It is regulated by the Equatoguinean Academy of the Spanish Language and is spoken by about 80% of the population.
Equatoguinean Spanish is more like Peninsular Spanish than American Spanish dialects.
Like any other language, there are countless Spanish dialects in the world. While it may sound quite different, it’s all still Spanish!
Compared to other tongues, different Spanish dialects are not challenging to master.
Spanish speakers from different countries can even communicate effectively without knowing the specific language.
However, it is important to remember that spoken Spanish is not identical in the different regions of the Spanish state.
Its pronunciation and linguistic characteristics can vary to a very significant extent from one place to another.
The Academia sets the rules to follow, standard variant to speak and write in a way accepted by all the different Spanish speakers.