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The one thing I always notice about someone when speaking to them in Spanish is their accent. Where are they from? Were they born in that country? Have they always spoken Spanish? These are questions that run through my mind. I pride myself in usually being able to tell what country someone comes from just based on their accent. The work I am doing here has made me come face to face with Spanish speakers from all over the world, and I find it fun to try and guess where they are from before asking them the explicit question.


There aren’t many people from Mexico in Miami, but when there is one, I find that it is very easy to point them out. It figures, since I was born in Mexico, and my entire world in North Carolina outside of school consist of relatives from Mexico. Mexicans speak mildly fast or very fast, depending on the state they’re from. For example, I speak very fast, and a staple of my type of Spanish speaking is the minimization of the pronunciation of vowels. For example, the phrase “Comó se llama”, I would pronounce “Como s llamaaa”. Spanish from Central America is very similar to Mexican Spanish, so I usually am not able to tell them apart. For example, Spanish dialect from Honduras sounds eerily similar to mine. Cuban Spanish is a little tricky to pick out, but one thing I’ve noticed after talking to countless Cuban Americans is the subtle pronunciation of “s” as “h” in some words. For example, they would pronounce “nosotros” as “nohotros”. It seems that most Spanish speaking countries from North America have similar Spanish dialects, or at least the differences aren’t as drastic as from countries like Spain or Argentina.


Now, Spanish Dialects in South America are what I find super interesting. Interesting because I find it so amazing that these countries all speak the same language, but drifted apart in the ways that they pronounce words. The Colombian accent is easy, in my opinion, to point out. I talked to a couple individuals from Colombia, and I could tell they were Colombian from the way they pronounced “s” as “shh”. They would pronounce words such as “Como estas”, as “Como eshtas”. My roommate freshman year was from Colombia, so I became very well accustomed to being able to pick out this accent. I have not met any Peruvians while here, but my best friend from High School was from Peru, so I would be able to pick it out if I were to meet one. Peruvian dialect differs within the country, but the main give away is the rhythm of how they speak. The Uruguayan and Argentinian dialect are both very clear to point out as well. We talked to one lady from Uruguay, and when she pronounced “Calles” as “Cajes”, I knew she was either from Argentina or Uruguay. Also, they speak fairly slowly, or at least compared to the Mexican or Puerto Rican dialect. The “iconic” Spain accent is probably the easiest of all to point out. The main feature is the pronunciation of the “s” sound as “th”, so a phrase like “como esta” would be pronounced “como ethta”.


My dad was from Spain, so he had the stereotypical Spanish accent. My mom is from Mexico, and a very fast speaker at that. I wasn’t with my dad long enough to inherit the “th” dialect, but I did extract part of it. For example, saying words in English that contain an “s” sound is hard for me, but in Spanish I can say them just fine. However, I talk really fast, and coupled with my ‘Spanish’ “s” pronunciation, non-native speakers find it hard to understand me. It kind of bothers me when some non-native speakers think that I am just speaking Spanish wrong. I have to remind myself that I’m the one speaking it right, and everyone back at home understands me just fine.


The American school system teaches Spain’s Spanish, or Castellano, so many students are taught that this is the ‘right’ way to speak Spanish. Some teachers go as far as only accepting this kind of Spanish, because it is the ‘sophisticated’ dialect.