the spanish lisp

I lived in Spain for two years. From the time I found out I was going there until now, I’ve heard the same question.

Don’t they talk with a lisp there?

The short answer is no, they don’t talk with a lisp, and if you think they do, and you speak English, then you speak with a lisp too.

You see, Castellano (the form of Spanish spoken in Spain) has the ‘th’ sound while other dialects don’t, such as the Spanish spoken in South America. However, and this is important, Castellano also has the ‘s’ sound. Someone with a lisp is unable to pronounce a normal ‘s’ sound.

For example, in both dialects of Spanish, the word ‘nosotros’ (we) is pronounced the same way, with just ‘s’ and no ‘th’.
However, the word ‘gracias’ (thank you) is pronounced ‘grah-see-us’ or ‘grah-thee-us’. The soft ‘c’ makes a ‘th’ sound while an ‘s’ continues to make an ‘s’ sound. In English, we have the word ‘thinks’ which has a ‘th’ sound and an ‘s’ sound. According to some people’s logic, if it was pronounced ‘sinks’ in the US and ‘thinks’ in the UK, the British would have a lisp.

It’s quite beneficial to have the ‘th’ sound because it allows you to distinguish between words. Without the ‘th’ sound, it’s hard to know how to spell words because you don’t know if it’s spelled with a ‘c’, ‘z’ or ‘s’. In addition, where was Spanish first spoken? Spain. It’s like Americans telling people from England they speak with a funny accent.

I find it funny that people go to such great lengths to explain the story behind the lisp when there isn’t one. Some claim a Spanish king had a lisp and all the members of his kingdom imitated the lisp to keep him happy. In fact, this site still hasn’t figured it out.

People think Spain is weird for using a ‘th’ sound, when it fact it’s the South Americans who are the odd ones because they don’t have a ‘th’ sound. Why aren’t there any stories to explain how that happened?


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  1. As someone who learned non-Castellano Spanish, I love to hear the accent of people from Spain. I just think there’s something cool about it. Maybe it’s just me, but I also notice a sort of whistle when a Castellano speaker makes the ‘s’ sound. Very cool.

    Along the ‘Spanish accent’ line, I also like to hear Argentinians speak. They don’t have the “lisp” ;) but they do have this awesome sort of sing-song way of speaking. I’ve heard it’s because of a lot of Italian influence, but I could be wrong.

    Comment by mckay on August 1, 2006 @ 8:34 am
  2. “People think Spain is weird for using a ‘th’ sound, when it fact it’s the South Americans who are the odd ones because they don’t have a ‘th’ sound. Why aren’t there any stories to explain how that happened?”

    Note that in Spain itself, there is already a split: in Andalucia, folks speak “seseo” with no ‘th’ sound. In fact, that’s why South American dialects are the way they are: most of the immigrants came from the South of Spain.

    See Wikipedia for some quite informative summaries: and

    (Note that I am a linguist in real life but this area is not really within my expertise. I learned my Spanish in Andalucia and so find the Castillan dialect rather strange.)

    Comment by Kai von Fintel on August 1, 2006 @ 11:02 am
  3. I second that! When I was in school I studied Spanish, and made it a point to study the “real” Spanish (that which is spoken in Spain).

    Similarly, people in Argentina pronounce “ll” as “ja” (as in amarillo (a-mar-ee-o in Spanish versus a-mar-ee-jo in Argentinian).

    Just as we in America speak “American” (aka EN-US), and those in Spain speak “Spanish”, those in Mexico speak “Mexican.”

    – Joe

    Comment by Joe Levi on August 1, 2006 @ 11:54 am
  4. By the way, what part of Spain were you in?

    Comment by Joe Levi on August 1, 2006 @ 11:54 am
  5. mckay: I know what you’re talking about. I would say it’s less of a whistle and more of an airy ‘s’ sound. I’m not familiar with the Argentine accent, but I spoke with a guy from Columbia and he had a really easy going, smooth Spanish accent. It was really nice to listen to.

    kai: That’s true. A good friend of mine in Spain is from the Canary Islands and he drops his ‘s’ sounds almost completely, but didn’t use the ‘th’ sound. I hadn’t realized that Andalucia was the same way or that most of the immigrants came from that area. Thanks for the explanation.

    Joe Levi: Very good points. I was in central spain. I lived in Alcobendas, Ciudad Real, Madrid, Toledo and Merida. I’d love to go back and visit, and see some of the other parts of the country.

    Comment by dan on August 1, 2006 @ 12:18 pm
  6. But Dan, that’s one of the few things we can make fun of. In all reality, it can be a very beautiful accent. I was in Bar[th}elona for a week and tried hard to speak with the ‘theta’.

    Comment by Cameron on August 1, 2006 @ 9:53 pm
  7. I agree, the language sounds much better with the ‘th’ sound instead of nothing but ‘s’. I’m jealous that you got to go to Barcelona. Was it for work or pleasure?

    Comment by dan on August 2, 2006 @ 5:36 am
  8. Very cool! About 10 years ago I was slated to live in and around Bilbao for a couple years… Due to a pretty funky illness (long story) the closest I got was getting my visa at the Spanish Consolate in L.A.

    Technically, I was in Spain for all of about 1/2 hour.

    Comment by Joe Levi on August 4, 2006 @ 8:02 am
  9. Joe: If you ever get a chance to go, take it.

    Comment by dan on August 4, 2006 @ 9:27 am
  10. Okay- first of all, to Joe, Argentinians don’t make the “j” sound in place of “ll”… those are Colombians my friend… you’re mistaken… and all that crap about the “real” spanish.. whatever.. Even my profesor, who is from Galicia, says that people who think that one kind of Spanish is better than another, shouldn’t be speaking it. One isn’t “more correct” than another. Yes, some are more “common” and “known”, even “accepted” than others, but to say that Castellano is “better” than Spanish spoken in Colombia or Panama, is just being ignorant.

    Now, we all have our preferences about what we like to hear, and what we think sounds the best. I really, REALLY don’t like to listen to Dominicans talk. If any form of Spanish is “wrong” or messed up, it’s theirs. I have many friends and professors from all over, and EVERY ONE of them agree that Dominicans and Puerto Ricans drop letters and stuff, which makes it VERY hard to understand exactly what they’re saying. Just like Mexicans- it literally is so different, and there are so many made-up words, that it’s almost like another language…

    I personally, would rather hear a Colombian talk more than anyone. As far as a smooth tone, I think they have some of the prettiest speaking of any Spanish form. My best friend is Colombian, so I’m used to it. But when I got my first profesor from Spain, it took me a while to get used to his accent, mostly because of his form of ceceo that he speaks (him being a “gallego” and all…)

    Comment by Brian Gravely on September 25, 2007 @ 1:18 pm
  11. I would like to point a few errors you have made on your article, first of all the Th sound found in old Castillian was only for the letter ‘Z’ while now spanish people pronounce the letter ‘S’, ‘C’, and ‘Z’ with the sound ‘th’, spanish language as we know it know was derived from Castillian which is a language not a dialect, and the one spoken in Latin American countries is known as Spanish not as different dialects as you mentioned. Please review the difference between dialect and language.

    And not only in South American countries they speak Spanish, they also speak it in Central American countries and one North American one, Mexico.

    As English derived from the Anglo and Saxon languages, also spanish from Castillian, and the fact that Latin American countries don’t pronounce the ‘Z’ as ‘TH’ is as wrong as the Spaniards pronouncing everything with that sound

    I hope this helps and clarifies a few misunderstandings.

    Comment by Iliana on October 10, 2007 @ 2:01 pm
  12. Iliana: Thanks for your comments. Regarding the errors you pointed out, I’ve responded to each one below.

    the Th sound found in old Castillian was only for the letter ‘Z’ while now spanish people pronounce the letter ‘S’, ‘C’, and ‘Z’ with the sound ‘th’

    Do you have a source for the pronunciation of old Castillian?

    Regarding the current pronunciation of, while I was in Spain I never heard ‘s’ pronounced with the ‘th’ sound. If the ‘s’ were pronounced as ‘th’, that would be a lisp and there would be no ‘s’ sound in the language.

    spanish language as we know it know was derived from Castillian which is a language not a dialect

    From Wikipedia: Spanish and Castilian are used interchangeably to describe a Romance language originally from the northern area of Spain. It is the official language of Spain, most Latin American countries, and Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara, in Africa. Spanish originated as a dialect of Latin along the remote cross road strips among the Cantabria, Burgos, Soria and La Rioja provinces of Northern Spain. From there, its use gradually spread inside the Kingdom of Castile, where it evolved and eventually became the principal language of the government and trade.

    Please review the difference between dialect and language.

    A dialect is, “a regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern.” That sounds like a good description of the different types of Spanish or Castilian spoken around the world. You can read more about Spanish dialects and varieties on Wikipedia.

    And not only in South American countries they speak Spanish, they also speak it in Central American countries and one North American one, Mexico.

    Yup – and not just in the Americas, but also in Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara, in Africa. Spanish is the primary language spoken in more than twenty-five nations and territories, and is spoken in every continent around the world.

    As English derived from the Anglo and Saxon languages, also spanish from Castillian,

    Sort of. Spaniards tend to call the language español (Spanish) when contrasting it with languages of foreign states, such as French and English, but call it castellano (Castilian), that is, the language of the Castile region, when contrasting it with other languages spoken in Spain such as Galician, Basque, and Catalan. Spanish originated as a dialect of Latin along the remote cross road strips among the Cantabria, Burgos, Soria and La Rioja provinces of Northern Spain. From there, its use gradually spread inside the Kingdom of Castile, where it evolved and eventually became the principal language of the government and trade. It’s rather complex actually – take a look at all the names of the Spanish language to learn more.

    the fact that Latin American countries don’t pronounce the ‘Z’ as ‘TH’ is as wrong as the Spaniards pronouncing everything with that sound

    They don’t pronounce everything with that sound – that’s the whole point. Spaniards use the ‘th’ sound and the ‘s’ sound, whereas other dialects only have the ‘s’ sound.

    The ‘th’ sound is an essential part of the language, and even though all living languages are evolving, if you heard someone pronounce the letter ‘s’ in English as ‘th’, well that’th jutht thilly.

    I hope that clarifies your clarifications :)

    Comment by dan on October 10, 2007 @ 5:44 pm
  13. First the Spanish spoken in the Americas is not a dialect it is a language,
    second the inflection that the Spaniards have in their language is because a Spanish king who was very gay used to talk with a lisp
    and people not wanting to loose their heads hat to imitate the way he spoke.

    Comment by Osky Wosky on March 30, 2008 @ 7:32 am
  14. Osky: Read the original post. The story about the gay king is hogwash.

    Comment by dan on March 31, 2008 @ 12:57 pm
  15. I totally “agree” with Osky Wosky.
    I disagree with you Brian Gravely…….who told you that the sound “j” instead of “ll” is from Colombia??????……I’m argentinean and happens that I live in Chicago and every single time that someone hears me talking in spanish and understands it….the first thing that they ask me if I’m from Argentina……they do not ask me if I am from Colombia or from any other country in the middle of the american continent…..maybe your colombian friend tries to “imitate” how we the argentineans speak because that will make him feel better or so; anyway, to make the story short, the sound “sh” for example in the word “amarillo”…will sound as “amarisho”…”pollo”…as “posho”…”lluvia”…as “shuvia”…etc; so, as you can see, that kind of talking is EXCLUSIVELY from ARGENTINA, not from anywhere else. No offense to anyone. Thank you.

    Comment by yongo on April 15, 2008 @ 12:24 pm
  16. yongo: Thanks for chiming in. Have you lived in Colombia to be able to say that it’s exclusively spoken that way Argentina? I have some Colombian friends who disagree with you :)

    Who would have guessed there would be such controversy over this topic?

    Comment by Dan on April 15, 2008 @ 2:11 pm
  17. No, I did not lived in Colombia, but I have a friend ‘who’ is from Colombia (Bogotá to be precise) and he told me that he heard some colombians speaking with the ‘sh’ sound and there’s nothing more ridiculous in Colombia than trying to speak like argentinians. We were born speaking like that…….maybe some ‘others’ countries “adapted” to their own way, but there’s nothing like it.

    Comment by yongo on April 17, 2008 @ 10:25 am
  18. Colombia is a big country and there is a lot of variety in the accents people may use. It’s possible that people in Colombia use the ‘sh’ without any knowledge that it’s used in Argentina, even if it’s not used by the majority of Colombians.

    In any case, thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Dan on April 17, 2008 @ 10:31 am
  19. Alrighty then.

    Comment by yongo on April 18, 2008 @ 12:32 pm
  20. I agree with most of the explanation given in regards to the explanation on the origin of the “th” sound. However, this pronunciation of the “C” and “Z” is not would you would call proper Spanish either. If you truly know linguistic history, you would know that the Latin language does not have the “th” sound. Therefore, that pronunciation is what you would consider a non-originating (or non-native) evolution of the language itself (not saying it’s wrong, just saying that the Spanish language, just like the French, deviated slightly from the mother tongue, which is Latin). The Spanish spoken in the Americas tends to follow the grammar and pronunciation rules that true Latin possesses.

    Comment by JAC on July 1, 2008 @ 8:58 pm
  21. @JAC Thanks for your comment. I’m not a linguist and was unaware that Latin doesn’t have the “th” sound. However, I still believe there are significant benefits to be gained by having the “th” sound in the language. Latin wasn’t a perfect language, so the languages descended from it improved upon it. In the constant evolution of language, I hope the “th” wins out :)

    Comment by Dan on July 1, 2008 @ 10:48 pm
  22. the sentence: “Yo me llamo Jenni” can be pronounced as follows:

    Argentina: “Sho me shamo Shenni”
    Paraguay (where I am from): “io me iamo Chenni”
    Colombia and a few other countries: “Jo me jamo Jenni”
    Spain: “Jo me yeah-mo Jenni”

    Also, I do know people from all over Spain. I found that the majority of the DO pronounce the “S” sound as a “th” along with the “Ci”, “Ce”, “Z”.

    “Nosotros Vamos a comer una manzana con cereal” = “Nothotroth vamoth a comer una manthana con thereal”. That is not to say that it is the correct way of doing so, just that the ceceo is becoming more common with all 3 similar sounds.

    Comment by Jenni on July 2, 2008 @ 7:04 pm
  23. @Jenni Thanks for your comment. I haven’t been to Spain in quite some time. Perhaps their pronunciation has changed.

    Comment by Dan on July 2, 2008 @ 10:26 pm
  24. Jenni… and the rest of you… I’ve been reading all these comments and I think I can lay this discussion to rest being from Spain myself and being bilingual.

    The offical LANGUAGE spoken in ALL of SPAIN is Castellano (also known as Spanish, outside of Spain). There are other ‘languages’ (I’d prefer to call them DIALECTS) in Spain. Primarily: Euskera (Basque), Galego (Galician) and Catalan/Valenciá/Mallorquín (all stemming from the same root). These languages/dialects have fluorished in the past 20-30 years after the death of Franco who all but prohibited them. There are also some other languages/dialects spoken in Asturias and Aragon but they are minorities. The bilingual speakers in these regions speak Castillian with the ceceo.

    Castillian is spoken with the ‘lisp’ sound (ceceo) only for the following letters: Z (followed or preceded by any vowel) and C (only when followed by e or i: cerilla or cinta). The S is S.

    Those who say Spaniards are now also pronouncing the S with the ceceo are completely wrong. The only people who ALSO pronounce the S with ceceo are the people of CADIZ and parts of SEVILLA (in Southern Andalucía). There is no other area in Spain where this phenomenon can be heard.

    I hope I’ve clarified any doubts.

    Oh… And Colombians HAVE begun imitating Argentians with ‘vos’ (you) and the ‘sho me shamo’ (yo me llamo) because they have a complex with their own pronounciation when travelling abroad due to the immigrants who are not really giving them a good name wherever they go. No offense.

    I prefer Argentinian pronounciation but I consider all of South American ‘Spanish’ to be badly spoken and it is not a different language. It’s a FORM of Castillian where much of the vocabulary can be traced back to the days of the colonies. The pronunciation has been influenced my the many cultures that have mixed (African, native, european, etc…). Just like American English and British English. It’s still ENGLISH.

    Comment by Johnny on July 23, 2008 @ 3:09 am
  25. Johnny,

    The fact that you’re from Spain does not necessarily equate to a clear or absolute answer to this discussion. I think you sort of “went off on a tangent” with your explanation. The blog is on an explanation of how and / or why the ceceo evolved in Spain, and not other Spanish speaking countries.

    Yes, your explanation on what “Spanish” really is (Castellano) adds a small amount of useful information to this conversation. (FYI, Italian isn’t really Italian either. The official Italian language of today is actually a Florentine dialect, a direct offspring language of the mother tongue of all Romance languages, Latin).

    Be that as it may, when studying the grammatical and linguistic nature of all of Spanish, the Spanish spoken in the Americas follows the rules that traditional Latin possesses (Please refer to my posted comment from July 1st). I’m not saying that one Spanish is more correct than the other, I’m just stating what the facts are.

    Oh, and by the way, to say that Spanish from South America is spoken bad is quite arrogant on your behalf. Perhaps your post was more of an attempt to make yourself think that you’re right. If you really want to consider influences on Spanish, the influence of other languages on Spanish would be more reflected in the “Castellano” spoken in Spain. This is self explanatory, since Spain has neighbored countries like France, Germany and England (not to mention Morocco just to the South) for quite sometime now. And just for the record, I’m not from South America or from Spain (and neither is my ancestry). I’m just a linguist (PhD, just in case you wanted to know) who is trying to shed some light on this situation. But, just like in Philosophy (and in the brutal art of Politics), there will never be a final correct / incorrect decision or answer.

    Comment by JAC on July 26, 2008 @ 9:53 pm
  26. @JAC It’s true, there will never be a correct answer to this issue. I appreciate everyone’s input, because I’m of the opinion that the more people who discuss it, the better understanding we all gain.

    Comment by Dan on July 26, 2008 @ 10:25 pm
  27. I agree, Dan. My intention was not to convince Johnny or anyone else not to post their views on this topic. However you must also understand that comments like “I consider all of South American ‘Spanish’ to be badly spoken” tarnishes this interesting discussion (not to mention that it might just offend Spanish speakers from South America). Inputs with different viewpoints from as many people as possible are great, but not when these viewpoints insult the way people speak or use a language.

    All languages spoken are unique in their own way! No language spoken is “bad” when compared to other similar languages, just different! Pizza in Italy is great, but so are the pizza’s from Chicago and New York! Is one pizza style right and the rest “bad” or wrong? Of course not. They’re all unique and quite delicious, and this difference in taste and style is what makes languages delicious! Sorry for the slight “tangent-like” deviation that I took. I just love pizza (especially Chicago style).

    Comment by JAC on July 27, 2008 @ 4:53 pm
  28. I understand. Sometimes comments come across far more potent than originally intended. I think this may be one of those times.

    Deep dish pizza all the way! :)

    Comment by Dan on July 27, 2008 @ 9:10 pm
  29. I’m sorry if my comment came across as being ‘arrogant’. I’m of the opinion that the Spanish spoken in latin America, though acceptable, is not ‘proper Castillian’. It is Spanish, though. But, I don’t care what anyone says, many people in Latin America pronounce incorrectly due to the melting pot that is ‘the Americas’. It’s normal, accepted and understood but it doesn’t make it correct grammar or pronounciation. Even in Spain, there are regions where Castillian is not pronounced correctly (Andalusia, Extremadura and even Catalonia) because of the influence the local dialects have had through the ages.

    It’s difficult to find a place in Spain where perfectly correct Castillian Spanish is spoken. Everyone mentions Valladolid, Burgos, Salamanca, etc… but with the world being so connected via internet and modern communication, transport, migration, etc… it’s all become one big mix. Though, what I consider, ‘proper Castillian Spanish’ can be heard throughout all of Spain. Even Adalusians who ‘correct’ their way of pronouncing (by using the ‘ceceo’ on purpose and by not dropping endings, etc…) unconsicously, understand what ‘proper’ Castillian pronounciation should be. So there is a common understanding in Spain of what this is.

    The ‘ceceo’ phenomenon is a mystery to me and I stumbled upon this website precisely to see if someone can shed some light on the subject. In my opinion, it must’ve been a trend or way of speaking derived from old-Castillian or Romance to distinguish the cedille (Ç) from the normal C.

    Being a Spaniard and living here (and being an ‘aficionado’ of linguistics) I’ve analyzed Germanic (and French) influences on Castillian and Arabic influences and have come to the conclusion that there are many more links to, obviously Latin and Indo-European languages (including Basque) found in Castillian rather than Arabic. There are a number of words that can be traced back to the Arab occupation of the Iberian penninsula. Many are hardly ever used. Even in pronounciation, the arab influence can only be heard in very few distinct sounds like the J (huh). Dutch and even German speakers have a stronger ‘huh’ sound. So, this sound may not have even derived from the Arab influence. Anadlusia, which is closer to Morocco, should have more influence in this sense but: Has anyone here ever heard a Moroccan speak Arabic? The intonation, the sounds, etc…, not to mention the actual LANGUAGE is completely different to the Castillian spoken in Andalusia.

    Thus, the Arab influence is there but not as much as many exagerrate it to be. There is much more indo-iberian (Celt-iberian-Basque), indo-european (Latin-Germanic) and some Greek (Meditteranean) in Castillian than anything else.

    Again, no offense intended in my first post.

    Comment by Johnny on August 12, 2008 @ 4:43 am
  30. Well I am from Mexico, and honestly in the past I used to think ours ( correctly spoken ) should be the easiest to understand specially in the Americas ( due to our influence on spanish speaking television all over the world ) but with time I have understood just what i read here, that there is no correct or incorrect just different.

    well I have traveled many times mainly on vacations to europe ( well.. 4 times to be exact ), and.. I have found out that outside the Eurozone, ( with the exception of Greece ), Eastern Europeans catch mexican accent and vocabulary ( along with some Argentinan too ) easly because of the influence.. once again.. of the mexican and argentinan television, in fact many of the people i found that understood spanish, weren’t able to understand the vocabulary from Spain ( in the cases where it changes.. ) ( ahh yeah also in Israel I found out they only knew spanish from LA and Mexico )

    Now I dont know.. maybe in spanish its different, and here we have a PhD who could tell me i am wrong but.. I learnt that a Language has a Dictionary and/or a book written, in order to be classified as such, and a dialect doesn’t, am I right? ok I am just mentioning this coz i read alot those terms here.. and somehow I feel they are being used incorrectly.

    Now as for Johny, you have been excused by a Mexican already :), although … yeah what i don’t like much about some people from spain ( i say some coz i cant say its the same for everyone.. i have a very good friend in Barcelona for example.. ) is this ” I am correct” attitude you get, kind of stuck up at times.

    In a restaurant in Madrid
    (me) Buenos dias, me muestra el menú por favor?
    (waiter) Eh? ah! Pero que has querido decir “Una CARTA”
    (me) Sí, una carta, un menú, por favor :)
    (waiter) Vále
    (me) Me puede dar un JUGO de Naranja
    (Waiter) Eh?
    (me) Un jugo de Naranja por favor
    (waiter) Pero que no te entiendo!
    (me) ehmm ah si, perdón ( after reading carefully the menu ) un ZUMO de Naranja
    (waiter) ahh quisiste decir Zumo. Vale, un momento por favor…


    (Me) disculpe alguna oficina de información turistica?
    (John Doe ) Eh?
    (me) mmm Una mmm bueno.. donde dan informacion turistica.. una oficina de información turistica o algo asi?
    (John Doe ) Ahhhhhhhh! pero que habias querido decir “Una cabina para información al turista!” Ehmm no, no sé..
    (me )… ( thinking… do i speak Chinese? or they just like to correct other people? )

    And like these i can mention many others. in fact just a week ago a friend from the university went also on vacations and had the same very same kind of problem.
    Or like a friend of mine who is decendent of Spaniards. Her cousin from spain came, and she was telling me how she got mad coz her cousin used to correct her all the time coz “you speak Mexican not Castillan” to what my friend asked.. well.. give me an example of thinsg you dislike or are wrong..
    (cousin ) Well for example that.. Chido word ( meaning Cool ), ( sharply my friend answered… ) well what is Güay then? its just my word and thats just yours… to what the spaniard said… well that WEY ( pronounced “way” meaning “dude” ) that word you use it a lot.. and it means nothing.. to what my friend answered.. well you use “tio” for the same, and to me tio is a relative. so why to use it that way? its just YOUR way and that one is OUR WAY.

    Well I am sorry if i mentioned this, i just wanted to make myself clear when I say that we all should be tolerant with others and even if you somehow have the feeling you are right, always be respectful with others. coz at the end, we speak what we are taught to speak thats all.

    going back to the roots of this topic.. Yeah this TH I dont know where it comes from, but yeah no other latin derived language has the same sound.. well according to my personal experience at least, not that i got it from listening to them at least, but it does make it easier to catch the spelling of the words, so, even when i dont use it, I think its much easier for learning how to spell words.

    Ah yeah and about us mexicans making up words… well yes we do it when YOUNG people ( mainly influenced by American tv ) mix some english words with spanish, but that MAINLY happens in the north of Mexico. as a matter of fact, in mexico there are 3 main differences in our accents and in our vocabulary. and it is

    Spanish from the North ( Monterrey city and other border-near cities. near USA ) where you hear words like “Parkear= to Park”, “Troca = truck” and those, there are many, also their accent is like singing and they use a lot the word WEY ( actually all those mexicans that abuse of the word WEY normally come from Mexico city and Monterrey city, or the northern states, not from the rest of mexico )

    Spanish from the center: that’s the spanish without much fluctuation in the speech we dont sing or anything when we speak and we dont use much those “Mexican” words ( meaning we dont mix words with english unless ncessary) thats the accent you will hear on tv shows from Mexico.

    And finally the accent from teh south which has many words from indigenous DIALECTS and also influence in their accent. but that’s the less popular here in mexico the mainly spoken one is the one from the center zone and from the north ( and teh reason why you will hear mexicans in europe speaking with so many slangs is coz 1. Many rich mexicans live in the north of mexico so they can afford to go to europe and to study there. 2. we like to be distiguished as mexicans so we exaggerate our slangs )

    Ok I have a question…

    and this is to me the most important difference between… lets call it.. Castillan and “LA spanish”

    the way we use the tenses… the past tense to be exact

    “El mes pasado HE IDO a Inglaterra” ( spain ) (Last month I HAVE GONE to England )
    “El mes pasado FUI a Inglaterra” ( LA ) (Last month I WENT to england )
    “qué HAS QUERIDO DECIR?” ( spain ) ( What HAVE YOU TRIED to say? )
    “Que quisiste decir?” (LA ) ( What did you try to say? )
    “Ayer HE ABORDADO el autobus” ( spain)
    “ayer ABORDÉ el autobus” (LA )

    So? whats the correct way to use those tenses?
    I have always thought in spain they abuse of the “preterito compuesto” when it shouldnt be used in some cases.

    Anyway once again i hope you take my apologies for leaving and coming from the main topic :)

    Comment by Martin on September 7, 2008 @ 2:05 pm
  31. Martin, your comment is BS.

    EVERYBODY in Spain understands menú, jugo, and oficina de turismo.

    The HAVE+PARTICIPLE form is used with actions that happened a short time ago. For example: Esta mañana he ido al médico.

    Absolutely NOBODY in Spain would say “El mes pasado he ido a Inglaterra.”

    Please don’t say BS because then USians read it and believe it.

    Comment by Edmund on October 10, 2008 @ 4:39 pm
  32. USians? So have you talked to EVERYBODY in Spain? That’s quite a feat, there were many times when I wasn’t understood when I said ‘jugo’.

    Excuse me for being dry, but lo de USians no me ha gustado demasiado. That is of course assuming that you intended for it to mean “Americans.” We really suck, don’t we? And by we I mean ALL of us, because that is really the only way to refer to a people.. by talking about ALL of them at once, wouldn’t you agree? Generalization and stereotypes most definitely don’t exist.

    Anyways, to answer Martin’s questions without being so amazingly stuck up about it:

    The present perfect tense is used for recent actions, as Edmund so beautifully put it. Usually it is used with ‘este mes, esta mañana, esta tarde, hoy’ etc. Or if something just happened, “¿Qué has dicho?” For ‘ayer’ it would not be used. “Ayer cogí el autobus a las 3 de la tarde.” Not “Ayer he cogido el autobus…”

    As far as the theta goes in Castellano in Spain, the “correct” way to use it is after c’s followed by e’s and i’s and then z’s of course, but in Andalusia for example there is a lot of variation of this sound. To me it seemed that people from small outlying towns (in my case outside of Cádiz), sometimes would ceceo everything, all s’s and all c’s and z’s. “Cuando te viene’ pa’ mi catha?” That is NOT, however, the “correct” way to speak Castellano in Spain. In Andalusian’s defense, the ones I met would never have said that they spoke Castellano, they would say that they spoke Spanish. We won’t even get into the the palatización of the s’s in the Castellano speaking areas of Spain, but I hope it isn’t that sound (sh) some are confusing with the theta.

    Comment by John on November 19, 2008 @ 4:52 pm
  33. The letter C (before I and E – before an A, O or U the letter used is Z) is pronnounced differently in different European languages depending on its development. Originally it was a [k] sound and in most languages developed into a [ts] sound.

    While in the north the [ts] sound developed into a [th] sound, in the south it developed into the [s] sound – and that sound was exported to the Americas.

    This is similar to C developing into an [s] sound in English or French but a [ch] sound in Italian.

    Comment by JR on January 11, 2009 @ 12:31 pm
  34. Well, I googled the infamous “Spanish lisp” out of curiosity on its origin and ended up quite entertained by this blog. The reason being, I recently started a new bi-lingual job and I work with a gem of a lady (I believe is Mexican or her family is) who pronounces some Spanish words with the “th” sound in place of an s. Well, GET THIS… turns out her boyfriend is a Spaniard, living in Spain and she spends a few weeks at a time in Spain throughout the year! So, naturally she’s picked up the ceceo. Funny how easily the different pronunciations and accents can jump continents. I suppose this could happen to any one of us Spanish speakers should we spend a considerable amount of time there. Personally, I don’t care for the way it sounds nor do I care for the way the Argentines use “sh” in place of “y”, “ll” or “j”.
    I have an old childhood friend whose parents were from Argentina and Spain! Imagine how the language was spoken there! Although I recall hearing the expression “che” used more than the ceceo sound. It’s still no wonder why I’d often feel confused with my own understanding and expression of Spanish (origin: Lima, Peru) after spending a weekend at their house. They were rather stuck up too but either way, the food in her home was always amazing!
    Another one of my dearest friends and I laugh all the time about the way her Columbian mom acts so superior to her ex-husband’s Puerto Rican roots. I happen to love my friend’s father’s side of the family (Puerto Rican) more than her mami’s (sorry Liz, but I know you know what I mean). Besides her P.Rican family bringing the best music and fun personalities to family get-togethers, they’ve never told me that my Peruvian Spanish isn’t a true Castillian Spanish as her Columbian mamacita did! LOL! She tried to tell me that we speak Quechua in Lima (which is a native tongue of Peru, still spoken in some departments/states, like Cuzco). And then of course it was followed up by how Columbian Spanish is the prettiest sounding! Can you all believe that?! When I lived in Lima as a teen (age 14 to 16) and went to private school, was immersed in my heritage and came back home to CA speaking fluently, I was under the understanding that I spoke CASTELLANO. At least that’s what the language was commonly referred to as, in Lima in the 80’s. When I told my mom what la Colombiana had said, she did get a little laugh out of it but she told me that the spanish spoken in Lima used to be a prettier, more pure and true to Castillian spanish (minus the ceceo) several decades ago. Unfortunately it’s gotten chopped up and mixed with slang words; much like the spanglish has come about here in the states (namely CA). Kind of a shame. Never the less, the rich culture and the food of my mother’s homeland is what I’m most proud of and I suppose, although the Spaniards did what they did to Peru and it’s natives to gain their riches… they did leave behind a beautiful language.
    Some of my friends and I disagree at times on the nicer sounding spanish or tastier dishes, etc., etc. and that’s ok! Languages are so cool and the different cultures are even more so. We can all have our opinions and appreciate one more over the other and not put the others down can’t we? It’s when people start to profess their language’s origin and superiority over the others, that they start to show their true feelings of insecurity and inferiority. Even whole regions and countries can carry this sort of air about them, can’t they? It’s truly stupid and a shame.
    Before I end, I wanted to add a couple more things…
    In addition to Jenni’s entry on July 2, 2008 on different pronunciations of this sentence, “Yo me llamo Jenni”, In Peru it’s pronounced as follows: (in the area of Lima that I lived in)
    Peru: “Jo me yeah-mo Joanna”.
    Thanks to the previous bloggers. I learned quite a bit from some of you. And there are some of you who have quite a bit to learn, by way of HUMILITY :)
    And finally, I HAVE to say in terms of food… Peruvian dishes are the best!!! LOL!!

    Comment by Joanna on January 31, 2009 @ 2:17 am
  35. Well said, Joanna!

    I agree with most of what you said. Be that as it may, I think all dishes (and languages) are unique and delicious (perhaps different, but delicious) in their own way. And yes, arrogance is an external emotion that portrays an individuals intrinsic insecurity and ignorance. No language or culture is better or “more true / pure” than another language or culture, even if the languages being compared are the same(i.e. Spanish).

    Comment by JAC on February 4, 2009 @ 8:51 am
  36. Hello,

    I am an Spaniard (from Bilbao)living in the UK for about 13 years.
    I’ve found this blog very interesting reading and the reaction of the egos to ill informed matters non surprising.
    Basque it is not a dialect but a recognized language older than ” Castillian” Spanish and most of the official European languages.

    I agree that the ceceo it does not happened in Spain but in (as someone mentioned) the areas of Cadid and surrounds.
    As far as I know “Ci”, “Ce”, “Z” are pronounced as TH.
    There is not other way grammatically correct to pronounce this.( unless the rules have changed I have been in the UK for so long one never knows)
    I am assuming that the reason for this is to be able to differentiate words while speaking and to make spelling standard and easier (lets give some credit to whomever were involved in the creation of the language in the beginning)
    As we all know languages evolve and change with time, new words are created via slang, other languages inputs, travelling etc…
    The ceceo or for a Spaniard the seseo ( because for us when the Z CE CI is not pronunce TH…. all sounds sssss) it is not correct. Ether way, to many TH or lack of them.
    I have some friends from South America that many times write down S when it should be Z. I believe that this could be avoid with the right pronunciation but then it happens in Spain too. In the UK with so many different accents and a language more complex in terms of speak – write happens the same.
    I personally find very sexy South American Spanish to the ear and I was trying to find if South Americans find Castillian spanish sexy too… and so here I am.
    The main thing is that we understand each other.

    Comment by Bozzie on July 27, 2009 @ 10:56 am
  37. Johnny, Basque is not classified as Indo-European.

    Comment by Oskar on November 1, 2009 @ 6:44 am
  38. I just got back from 3 weeks in Spain. Spent a few days in each of the following cities. Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona, San Sebastian. That’s castilla (whatever, i know Madrid is Madrid), andalucian, Catalan, and euskera country. I’m Mexican-American and grew up in a border town in south Texas on the U.S. side where everyone is bilingual. However, since we were educated in the US, English is our (mine at least) better language. That being said, I still speak Spanish (Mexican Spanish, castellano, whatever) fluently.

    Here are a few observations I made:

    Whoever said that everyone in Spain understands the word “menu”, there were at least 2 separate instances where I said “menu” and was NOT understood. At least that’s how they reacted. So they either didn’t know the word, or they were being arrogant. I’m pretty sure they just didn’t know the word. I think it happened once in Madrid, and then in Toledo. Those were the first 2 cities I visited, and soon learned that they all knew “carta” or “cartita” so I started saying that, and I was understood.

    The pace, rhythm, and tone of Spanish spoken in Spain is different from that spoken in Mexico, or LA Spanish, as others have referred to something similar to it.

    The ceceo “rules” were not followed consistently amongst Spaniards in Madrid, nor in other parts of Spain. It always seemed like to me, that there were so many differences in the way Spaniards spoke, much like here in the different regions of the US.

    I spoke to one Argentinian in the hostel I was staying in while in Madrid. I didn’t understand a single word he said. lol. actually, i did, but i had a much harder time understanding him than any Spaniard I met. I think I better understood the non-English speaking, non-Spanish speaking Brazilian girl I hung out with in Barcelona.

    I definitely started using the ceceo. First because ppl were giving me a slightly confused look when i didn’t use it (not sure if because they first thought i was local, but then did NOT sound exactly like a local, or what), then out of trying to not stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist, then just from hearing it so much. I’d usually be one of the few in the hostels who spoke Spanish fluently, so I’d usually wind up being the spokesperson at places where no one spoke English.

    Since all Spanish is technically “supposed” to be castellano, but apparently none of it actually is, I started saying Spanish Spanish, vs. my Latin Spanish or Mexican Spanish. Argentinian Spanish is another story :).

    Spanish Spanish slang is different than Mexican Spanish slang. They have a lot less curse words. Maybe that’s not saying much, since Mexicans curse a fuck-load. (I love that I have 2 sets of curse words to pick from). I kept asking locals I met and befriended to teach me some Spanish spanish curse words, but didn’t get much further than “puta madre.” And hell, “puta madre” is used in a positive way! They do have hijo de puta, but that’s not much of a variation from puta madre.

    I could have an entire conversation using the word “vale.”
    Spaniard: “Vale?”
    Me: “Vale.”
    Spaniard: “Vale Vale.”
    Me: “Vale.”

    I love that.

    The police officer, who after chatting me up, I came to find out he had family in Nuevo Laredo, kept entering my statements into the PC, and would say “vale” anytime he hit enter, or anytime he acknowledged what I said. Sometimes, he would just read something silently, and say “vale” out loud.

    Euskare is a completely different language. No way is it a Spanish dialect. It doesn’t sound or look like Spanish, nor like French, nor like Portuguese. It might be extra-terrestial (sp?) I do like the way the written Euskera words use a schload of Xs, Zs, and Ks. But it’s a way out there language, completely different from anything I’ve seen or heard. In San Sebastian, hung out with this Spanish girl (non-euskare speaking), and she said she was trying to learn it, but was having a hard time. Nevertheless, she taught me as many Euskare curse words in those 3 hours, as I had learned the entire prior 3 weeks learning Spanish spanish curse words.

    Catalan is different dialect from Castillian. But everyone in Barcelona understood and spoke Castillian.

    Barcelona is the only place I got rude service from waiters (just twice though, so no biggie, but being from the southern u.s., I’m not very used to rude service).

    Spaniards don’t touch in public. Only the pick-pockets touch you. If someone touches you, watch your wallet.

    Spain is an amazingly interesting and diverse country with an amazing history, that I didn’t understand before spending time there.

    My Spanish spanish always got better the more I drank. I think it’s because I was less self-conscious about not sounding local, and just started flowing better. Plus, I probably stopped overthinking and just started speaking Spanish really fast.

    Everyone I spoke to in San Sebastian (Basque country) understood and spoke Spanish spanish when I would ask them a question. I did my best to always speak spanish to the hostel staff, super market clerks, store ppl, bartenders, etc., because when in Rome…plus I wanted to get my spanish to be as good as my English. I think it almost is. I think we always think we’re worse at a language than what it appears to others when we speak their language. It was always funny, when I’d tell a French person, “Jeu neu parlez pau frances, parlez vous anglai?” (my French spelling is f’d up), and they’d respond, “But you do!” with a smile. I spent 3 days in Paris on this same vacation.

    Spanish spanish vocabulary is slightly different from latin spanish. Every 10th or 15th word I didn’t understand and it would screw up the entire communication. Those first days in Madrid were funny, because occasionally I’d be mistaken for a local, by a local, and they would come up to me and ask a question in Spanish spanish at 100 mph, with their slightly different vocabulary, and that damned ceceo (you got me to not say “lisp”), and it would screw up the entire meaning of the communication.

    Tourists would come up to me and ask in broken Spanish where something was. I had no idea where that certain thing was. But I would just point in some random direction and say “vale, vale, vale.” just kidding. I’d say i was a tourist too.

    Spaniards structure their sentences and phrases slightly different than mexican spanish. Very similar to what someone said up a few posts.

    Granada was an amazing place.

    I want to live in San Sebastian.

    Comment by Sergio on November 5, 2009 @ 9:19 pm
  39. My father is Spanish (Spaniard from Spain; Galicia to be exact) and my mother is Nicaraguan. Both different accents, however they use Vos and Nosotros. Argentina, Nicaragua and Spain use “Vos” which adds and perpetuates different accents. My mother accent is beautiful and probably (along withe her looks) snagged my dad :) Anyways, the complexity continues because I speak really really really fast because Nicaraguans do, and with a Spanish accent. Also Argentine spanish is quite similar to Portuguese in regards to pronounciation. The (argentine) say llorando (sho-ran-do) Brazilians say chorando very similar. I like to think the influence came from portuguese in regards to accent of argentine, not spanish. They are neighboring countries.

    Comment by Iñigo on March 2, 2010 @ 2:11 pm
  40. I love the Spanish accent, but I must admit that after living here, I realized that the “lisp” is not as pronounced as people make it out to be. Sometimes, I can’t even distinguish if a Spaniard is pronouncing an s or a th sound. Although I find it difficult to hear sometimes, I love that the Spaniards use the [th] sound and hope that they will always have that phoneme as part of their dialect.

    Comment by Ariane on May 3, 2010 @ 2:15 pm
  41. @Ariane I feel the exact same way.

    Comment by Dan on May 3, 2010 @ 2:46 pm
  42. “It’s like Americans telling people from England they speak with a funny accent.”

    England changed its accent after the Americans left, and Noah Webster worked to change how Americans spoke. We’ve both changed, neither one is in its original form, which would be something not unlike German with more throat clearing.

    Comment by Canute on May 23, 2010 @ 9:19 pm
  43. Interesting point. You’re right, languages are constantly evolving, though the fact remains that American English is a descendant of British English.

    Comment by Dan on May 24, 2010 @ 9:48 am
  44. I just want to explain clearly this facts:
    In spanish language we can see three phenomena, distinction, seseo and ceceo:

    •Distinction means pronouncing the soft C and Z as “th”, and S as “s”. It’s done in central and northern Spain, and considered the standard pronunciation in Spain. For example “princesa” = prinTHeSa

    •Seseo means pronouncing EVERYTHING as S. It’s done in some parts of southern Spain and all over Latin America. It is considered the standard pronunciation in Latin America. As an example, “princesa” = prinSeSa

    •Ceceo means pronouncing EVERYTHING as TH. It’s done in a small area of southern Spain, and normally considered an incorrect pronunciation. For example, “princesa” = “prinTHeTHa”.

    This is the way it is, you can check it in wikipedia, or you can check it in any spanish language pronunciation guide (although it won’t be as clear as here).

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Marcos on June 2, 2010 @ 12:50 pm
  45. Thanks for the clarification Marcos. My original post was about distinction.

    Comment by Dan on June 2, 2010 @ 2:24 pm
  46. There are different languages and different dialects and pronunciations, the language Spanish has many dialects, Castellano that is derived from latin, is not “the real” spanish, but then againi, spanish from Latin America is also spanish just spoken differently. EN-US (english from the US) is not considered American, it is just english, considering that Australians and South Africans also derive their language from UK english, which is also derived from latin. Last but not least, Mexican is not a language, nor is American nor brazilian, those are just the places where different dialects of other languages expanded, keep in mind, the first Language in the Americas was spoken by the natives so calling English as American and spanish as Mexican only shows the ignorance of some people, speak what you like how you like it and show the same respect towards other languages and dialects.

    Comment by Briggs on June 9, 2010 @ 8:59 pm
  47. Wow! I can’t believe all the crap that many people believe in. The ceceo is the “th” (as in English “thin”) pronuciation of c followed by e or i or the z in all positions. It is explained by the history of the phonetic pronunciation of Latin “…TION”. The TI part of the ending in …TION was pronounced “ts”, or ch as in English “chart”. It took hold, and to this day in Italian they still pronounce it this way. In Spanish, it evolved to the present “th” as in the English “thin” sound. In French, it evolved FURTHER to the “sh” sound, as in the present English sound for the “tion” in , say, organization (note the “sh” sound for “ti”. (see Dr. Entwistle “The Spanish Language”; and see Dr. Peter Richard, “A History of the French Language). The phenomenon is seen in French and in Italian, but in those languages, the end result was different from each other and was also different in Castilian (Castilian is now the language of Spain, as it won out against the other languages of Spain, i.e. Aragonese, Leonese, Catalan, Galician, Mozarabic, Basque, Valencienne). In the Western Hemisphere, we speak Castilian with certain accent variations brought over from Southern Spain, as it was from that region the original conquerors were mostly from. This crap about a King’s lisping is a farce. I get tired of posters who have the education and experience of a 12-year-old assuming that others will automatically give credence to their postings of garbage. /s/ Rick.

    Comment by Rick on June 11, 2010 @ 1:35 pm
  48. @Rick Before you go dismissing all the “crap”, how do you know your sources are correct? Did you verify their research? Can you guarantee, with evidence, that everything you read and wrote here is 100% accurate? Even experts in linguistics disagree on the origins of certain sounds. Let’s tone down the rhetoric and share your opinions, as the facts are not as obvious as you’d like to think.

    Comment by Dan on June 11, 2010 @ 1:51 pm
  49. I would like to just pose this one pa todos vosotros (4 all yall):
    First of all, THANK YOU for pointing out that one website, que jilipollezes! (and erhem dont repeat that in your spanish classes)
    Second, and i think sorry, sink (dont wanna lithp now do i;)
    Anyways, alot of people say LA Castilian comes from the Castilian of Andalusia, but if that was true, wouldn’t the LA version be the lisping version? Think about it, in most of andalusia they have ceceo [witch is different of distinción (how we speak, s and th) ceceo is where serrar and cerrar both sound like cerrar (th) and distinción has them separate and some parts have seseo modern LA Castilian]

    So wouldn’t it be the norm to say mi catha etá baho del thol?
    Also many a final s is dropped in andalusian so ¿Cómo estáis ustedes? Sounds like ¿Cómo etái hutede? Or even Ustedes sois mis mejores amigos: Utede soy mi mehore hamigo.
    So wouln’t ceceo and aspiration be prevalent thru out mexico the carribean and south america? Also vosotros would be preserved or at least the mixed ustedes estáis/sois/dais/averigüéis etc would be used. Ustedes tenéis vuestros libros? Would be the norm instead of tienen sus.

    But then again, northern spanish castilian was still used in the mexico city region up to 100 yrs ago and in reality people in central america lisp just talk to a honduran i know one, trust me on this, and i dont hold it against him. Anyways let me know que pensais and if im wrong please direct me to some evidence or some website, thanks and just think about it.

    Comment by José Noriega the notorious lisper on February 8, 2011 @ 9:43 pm
  50. Spanish is a world language like French and English. The British do not like it when we say that we speak English because we technically speak American. The French do not like it when we say that Canadians speak French because they speak French Canadian. The Germans do not like it when the Swiss say that they speak German because they speak Swiss German.


    Whether you call it different languages or different dialects of the same, what is very clear is that the speakers of the country in which the language was spoken first, do not like it when those who spoke the language second claim to speak their language.

    So it follows that it makes sense that the Latin Americans should qualify what they speak, just like the Swiss do, the French Canadians do and some Americans do……….

    What would be proper in this situation is for those of Mexico to say that they speak Mexican Spanish and those of Argentina to say ARgentinian Spanish…..etc…….Latin American Spanish does not work because as we all agree, Latinos speak very differently.

    I think this would appease the Spanish as it would make it clear to everyone what TYPE was involved.

    To be more clear. I want to learn Spanish, but I think it is completely inappropriate and just plain silly to ask for Spanish from SPAIN. For God Sakes, everybody should assume that the Spanish comes from Spain since this is where the language was created. It seems much more LOGICAL and appropriate for the folks who market “Spanish” to specify and say Latino Spanish (Latino being short way to say Latin American). Of course, what would be even better would be if they just plain said, Mexican, Argentinian, Colombian languages. This way, the person who wanted to take Spanish would know what type of dialect/language/version they were getting.

    Honestly, I had my husband take Spanish and when he went to class the teacher said that she was not going to teach Spanish from Spain because she was Mexican. I did not want my husband to learn Mexican Spanish because I do not like it at all and I know that he cannot use it successfully in Spain (will not be taken seriously) as well as in other parts of Latin America(ARgentina…). Because I am a lawyer, I sued the school for misrepresentation and breach of contract and got my money back.

    Spanish is beautiful as spoken in Castile and Northern Spain. The S is not the th sound, ever, and it never has been. It is for this reason that the Castilians have never lisped. A lisp is a th sound where the s should be.

    Spanish is just one of the many world languages that has th sound. There are about twenty others, including our beloved English.

    The sounthern Spaniards were forced to speak Castilian after the moors were thrown out. Remember they were speaking Arabic when the Catholic monarchs came. The Andalusians do lisp because they drop a lot of their s when they speak. They simply leave them out. Many South Americans have this same lisp. Many south americans drop s when they speak because they are the descendants of these Southern Spaniards who did not adopt the th sound and also started dropping s’s.

    On a side note, many French people and German people do not use th sound when they speak English. My husband is one. I cannot get him to th, he just prounounces th as s, just like the andalusians did and continue to do.

    So yes, there is an argument to be made that the andalusians never learned correct Castilian. After all, correctness is measured by against the original. Those who create the language get to say what is proper and correct. THIS MAKES ABSOLUTE SENSE. Interestingly enough, the northern Spaniards who were also forced to learn Castilian, learned it perfectly. Remember that the Catalans were speaking Catalan and the Gallegos were speaking Keltic and the Basques were speaking Uskera. They all had to learn Castilian when they were taken over by the Castilians and they managed to learn it perfectly. Why did the Southern Spaniards learn it incorrectly?…………..

    Some people have always said that the South of any country is different and their speech quite different……………….

    Colombia used to be called New Granada. South America is pretty much Southern Spanish or Andaluz.

    Also, I think that you all need to understand that Spanish is Castilian. All Latinos speak a type of Castilian. Castilian was the dominant Spanish language and the one that was taken to the new world. However, because Castilian was not created in Central or South American, it seems to be that it is totally appropriate to call it improper and not correct. Castilian is not the only Spanish language, there is Uskera, Catalan, Gallego..

    Honestly, this discussion is silly. The French Canadians agree that they do not speak proper French. The Swiss Germans agree that they do not speak proper German. The Americans agree that we do not speak proper English. WE speak proper American but certainly not proper English. The French Canadians speak proper French Canadian………………..

    The Colombian Spanish is not the best in Hispanic America. The reason is that Colombians whine. In business, this whiny tone…………just cannot be taken seriously by many….

    The argentinians sing too much so it is hard to take them seriously.

    Of the hispanic/latino dialects/languages/versions, Peruvian is the best.

    Another point is that Castilian language did not just derive from Latin. There are Keltic, German, Greek, Carthagenian, Latin and Iberian influence. Also, modern Castilian has ARabic and sephardic Jewish influence.

    I am an attorney and like for things to follow. If we are going to say French Canadian, then we need to start saying Mexican Spanish or Mexican for short………If we are going to say Swiss German then we need to say ARgentinian Spanish or Argentinian for short.

    Also, I would like to mention the fact that the languages/dialects/versions of Castilian spoken in Latin America are all third world versions. Spanish is first world and European. Normally, the version spoken in the area of economic prominence is the “right” one, “standard” one “proper” one and yes the prettiest one!!!!!. Third world versions are usually not the ones that people prefer to learn.

    The South Americans have been desperate for work in the United States because they are third world. The middle class comes here and get jobs as “native” Spanish teachers. This is because the Spanish come here to do jobs that pay much more. All the Spanish people that I know who are here are managers, Doctors, scientists.

    It is the desperate situation of the Latin American that drives him to make up vicious, false rumours about the Spanish. He desperately wants to be chosen as the Spanish teacher so he tries to persuade the American that the Spanish have a lisp. Not only is this defamation (which is against the law) it is vile and reprehensible.) Ironically enough, it is the South American who tends to have a lisp and who talks incorrectly because the th sound is not used on z and some c’s, the way it should be. Even the Andalusians agree that they do not speak Castilian correctly. This is why they say that they speak Andaluz.

    All latinos pronounce all c and z as s and this is not the way Castilian is supposed to be spoken. Castilian is a logical language with only one letter that gives s sound. AGain, this reminds me of all of my German friends who pronounce the th in English as s because they do not feel like doing th. They are obviously speaking American/English incorrectly or are we all of a sudden going to say that they are just different????

    Please be logical. AGain, I am a lawyer and was taught to be logical and think logically.

    What I do not understand is why the Latinos get upset when they are reminded that they do not speak Spanish but some dialect or version. Again, the swiss are not upset when the Germans make this clear to them. AGain, the French Canadians are not upset when the French make this clear to them. I am not upset when an English person tells me that I speak American (it has happened to me). Why in the world then do the Latinos get so upset???? What is wrong with them??? Do they suffer from extreme low self esteem? are they not proud of being from their respective country and of speaking their respective dialect?????. The Spanish would be happy to admit that they do not speak proper Mexican Spanish or ARgentinian Spanish,etc….

    WHY ARE THE LATINOS ALWAYS saying that they are Spanish???? speak Spanish?????? are they afraid that people will find out that they are American Indian??????????? AGain, their conduct is very different from the conduct of the Swiss German, French Canadian. They stick out like a sore thumb in this regard.

    It is very annoying indeed.

    Honestly, when somebody says “real spanish” I get offended because there is no other kind. European Spanish is redundant. Spanish can only be European. It is time that the Latinos started qualifying what they speak as they came second and on top of that have injected all sorts of Indio word/intonation/grammar into their respective tongues….

    Spain is such an awesome country. The only Western European country who made it out of the shambles of its own civil war without Marshall Aid and with an American Embargo. Even the American encyclopedia describes the Spanish as willful, resilient and very tough. Castilina is a beautiful language and when spoken properly, sounds quite aristocratic and some say very sexy.

    I have my kids learn Spanish not Hispanic or latino versions. The benefits are enormous.

    I will never forget it. I had an Austrian boyfriend who loved the way Spanish sounded. He came to the US and listened to the show of Cristina on Univision and said that it sounded terrible. He said it sounded so low class. He said that it did not sound like the high class spanish and that he did not like to hear the latino versions. He told me to turn it off. In Spain, though, he was enthralled (Madrid).

    So as you can see, even people who are not native spanish speakers can hear how terrible some Latino sounds and can recognize how beautiful the upper class spanish is.

    By the way, I think it fitting to interject that the more money and education you have in Latino America, the more you sound like a Castilian….. WHAT does this telL you?????

    Comment by Laura on February 22, 2011 @ 9:31 pm
  51. Oh get over it, Colon,Cortes and Pizarro were all rapists, murderers and thieves, who brought the castilian language with them and forced it upon the indios.I feel this discussion is irrelevant when you look at genocide, bondage and the conquistadores, ole !!

    Comment by Rod on April 16, 2011 @ 5:22 pm
  52. Laura
    Get over ur self…what a lot of bigoted claptrap!! First world .. Third world .. Only European.. How ignorant n racist!! The English are the first to admit they bastardized the “English” language more than anywhere else.. so please don’t make claims clearly that are inaccurate n based on your “superior” n personal albeit distorted views.. U added nothing of merit to this vibrant discussion… Other than shone a light on ur disparagement for certain people!!

    Comment by Grant on August 6, 2011 @ 11:01 pm
  53. Just feel fortunate that we all can speak English AND Spanish. These are the two biggest world languages. No matter what the regional variations are, they’re all mutually understandable. The same can’t be said for most of the other more widespread languages.

    One HUGE point to make here though: Basque (Euskera) is NOT derived from Castellano nor related to any living language family whatsoever. Some studies actually think that Castillian/Spanish PRONUNCIATION may have been influenced from Euskera. Whether that last part is true or not, we’ll never really know for sure, as none of us were there at the time. Hoever, being an ethnic Basque, I just couldn’t let that post from a “Spaniard” sit about Euskera being derived from Castellano. Every Spaniard should know that Euskera is the last of it’s kind.

    It makes me question that poster’s true nationality.

    Comment by Zaque on October 9, 2011 @ 11:26 am
  54. Just read the “attorney’s” post. Thanks for providing extra proof that even some of the dumbest people ever can pass the bar exam. I doubt you’re even a lawyer though, because you obviously don’t know a thing about real defamation. Just read the first chapter in your constitutional law book? I wish you well with your paralegal certificate studies.

    Comment by Zaque on October 9, 2011 @ 11:33 am
  55. This is really helpful. I am tired of people (Americans learning Spanish and planning on going to a partner university in Spain for a year) not understanding that the C or Z sound in Spanish from Spain is actually no lisp. Stop saying —- and educate yourself before speaking about a topic you know nothing about. Thanks!

    Comment by Francisco on October 18, 2011 @ 5:40 pm
  56. Putting aside some incredibly bigoted remarks in some posts, who seem to think that a personal opinion affirmed by a few friends/acquaintances equals reality, there are some really interesting issues in this thread.

    One poster from Peru mentioned that they call Spanish “Castellano” (or Castillian). This is also the case in Chile (where I’m from). If we talk about the language in our native tounge, we call it Castellano, not Español (“because” Español is from Spain). However, if we talk about it in English, we call it Spanish because the word “Castillian” is unusual; the English language favours “Spanish” as a name.

    However, Chileans are the first to admit that although they call it “Castellano”, it’s not “true” Castellano but, in fact, Chilean. And to top it all off, we joke that we even speak Chilean badly!

    This is because the Spanish we speak locally does not follow the grammatical structure or the pronunciation of Spanish (or Castillian), most noticeably the ceceo. HOWEVER, unlike for English, there IS an official regulating body for the language, Real Academia Española (RAE). It recognises the dialects spoken in different countries in Latin America, and validates them as such through local offices. In other words, even though “Chilean” is different from the formal Castillian spoken in Spain, it is still considered an official and correct variation of Castillian. By Spain.

    So a few observations:

    * The original poster spoke about Castillian as opposed to Latin Amercian Spanish. This is incorrect, as in many Latin American countries it is, in fact, formally not called Español but Castellano (as I specified above, authorised as such by the RAE). Just like in the USA the children have “English” lessons even though, because of grammatical and pronunciation differences it is in fact “American English”, children here have “Castellano” lessons, even though it is a Chilean dialect of the original Castillian.

    * It is quite ridiculous to state that Spanish from Spain sounds like upper-class Spanish and Spanish from Latin America sounds like lower class Spanish. It’s a very personal taste what pronunciation you prefer: some prefer Spanish, some prefer Argentinian, some prefer Peruvian. Not many prefer Chilean, but that’s another matter…

    So let’s not label dialects “high-class” or “low-class” just because YOU think it is – and as a non-native speaker, to top it all off! Chilean Spanish itself has different dialects, some of which are related to highly educated people and others to the uneducated population. The same is true for Spain. So context is key. Using ceceo does not in itself signify anything other than you speak with the accent typical of central and northern Spain. It’s not THE proper Spanish, it’s A proper Spanish.

    * Although we – however gifted a linguist we may consider ourselves to be – cannot actually say what is right or wrong because it will always be just an opinion/preference, the RAE, by definition, can. It states that both ceceo and seseo are officially recognised and correct forms of pronunciation, the former more common in central and northern parts of Spain while the latter more common in some areas of southern Spain, and over all Hispanic America. In fact, RAE specifies that seseo is considered the correct (“proper”) form for the “cultured classes” in Hispanic and Meridional Spanish. It is not considered a modern-day evolution; this has been recognised by the RAE since at least 1771, if not earlier.

    Therefore it is also incorrect to say that Latin Americans are the odd ones because they do not use ceceo (as suggested by the original poster); in Spain (by Spain, though not necessarily by all Spaniards), both ceceo and seseo are officially recognised, neither categorised above the other as “proper”.

    What you personally prefer is a completely different matter… and why seseo is more common in Latin America may have to do with southern-Spain Conquistadores or perhaps (in my opinion, more likely) with the Francophilic Spanish Jesuits who arrived en masse to Latin America to evangelise and, therefore, teach the language “to the people”. No-one actually knows why, but the question is – does it actually matter?

    Comment by Alex on October 29, 2011 @ 11:08 pm
  57. I’m from Spain and most of the people I’ve met in my travels around the country understand that Z and Ci/Ce. S is always S. The article mentioned “GraThiaS.” That is accurate.

    However, in Seville, they tend to overdo it. In Seville, you might hear people use “Th” for the letter “S.” My neighbor moved from Seville, and he is not an exception to this.
    However, as far as the “ceceo” goes, I’m very certain that this comes from the “Ç.”

    But it is not a lisp. Think about English for a minute. When you say “nation” you pronounce it as “nashion” do you not? Nobody says “NaTion.”
    “Nashion” is thus the correct pronunciation of “Nation.” Even though you could say that that is “lisp-like.”
    Spanish is similar to this. When you say “Nación,” (naThión) you are preserving a distinctive pronunciation, that is supposed to be there.
    And I don’t want to sound like an elitist, but it just makes more sense to use the proper pronunciations of Z/Ci/Ce. Mostly because of spelling. If you hear “el Nariz” here, you will know that it is spelled “Nariz” and not “naris.”
    Or that vez is not ves.

    But it really comes down to one thing. Since I know nobody likes to admit that there is an improper pronunciation of Spanish, consider this: Would you correct someone in English when they said NaTion instead of Nashion? Would you correct someone in English when they said “oF” instead of “ov” (otherwise, you would get “of” and “off” confused)?

    And in Spanish, wouldn’t you correct someone who said “OJalá” (with an English/French “J”)?

    The same way that ll and j have proper pronunciation, z, ci, and ce have proper pronunciation. And since ci/ce likely comes from the ç, you really shouldn’t just assume it should sound like an S… In the same way you shouldn’t assume that the T in “Nation” sounds like a “T.”
    Think about where the English word “nation” comes from. It is Latin derived, by way of French.
    In fact, most English words that end in “tion” use their specific pronunciation because of their origin (Latin).
    English-speakers in both the U.K. and the U.S. have kept the correct pronunciation of those words.

    But Latin Americans have not maintained the similar standard of pronunciation. I keep seeing where the differences between “American” and “British” are compared to the differences between “Latin American” and “Castilian.” That is not accurate. The difference between between the U.K. and the U.S. is primarily in accent. The difference between a country like (for example) Mexico and a country like Spain is that Mexico is fundamentally different, linguistically. It is not just an accent, it is something more. Latin Americans are basically creating entirely new pronunciations for letters that already have their own specific pronunciation.

    Not that this makes them wrong. Andalusians are not “wrong.” It just is not standard in any way. (In Italian, do you pronounce “ciao” as “si-ow” or “chao”?) If you used a French “J” for all “J” sounds, it wouldn’t make you “wrong”–it would just make you completely non-standard. Likewise if you pronounced the “ll” like in the English word “collar.”
    It is exactly the same thing.

    In short, all the different pronunciations are fine, but when it comes down to it, the Z/Ci/Ce are supposed to be pronounced the way they are in standard Castilian, just like J and LL are supposed to be pronounced the way they are in standard Castilian.
    And there’s nothing “arrogant” about correcting another person’s pronunciation. If you would correct someone for saying “nation,” “of,” “cliché,” or “facade” (which, of course, the c is not a hard sound, it makes the “s” sound) wrong in English… Then why wouldn’t you do it for Spanish?
    There are standard rules for every language. You don’t say the K in “know” or “knight,” for example. Likewise, there are rules for the standard Spanish that is Castilian.
    Just because these standardized rules are not followed in Latin America or much of Andalusia doesn’t mean that Latin American or Andalusian pronunciations are correct.

    Comment by Francisco on December 4, 2011 @ 1:50 pm
  58. It occurred to me that perhaps the prevalence of the “th” sound (ceceo)in Castillian Spanish is due to early contact with the Moors and the Arabic language, which I believe also has a “th” sound. Could this be? I read on another site that “The Latin dialect that eventually became Spanish was highly influenced by the invasion of the Arabic-speaking Moors in 711.”

    Comment by Aviva on January 7, 2012 @ 12:49 am
  59. Seriously, with the situations Martin was describing, I don’t even think he had ever been in Spain or maybe he adorned it with a bit of imagination… because those situations are so strange and illogical!

    EVERYBODY in Spain understands the words “Menu”, I’m from Madrid , you can say Menu and Carta and EVERYBODY (and of course, in a restaurant…) will understand you. Maybe they said Carta not to be rude but to be sure you were refering to the “Menu”/Carta (with all the dishes, drinks… that the restaurant offers) and not to “Menu DEL DÍA” (I think in english is set menu).

    And “CABINA” de información turística? I have never heard that, oficina, just as Martin said, completely understandable.

    “Fui a Londres” as a sentence which needs “clarification” in Spain? Yeah, whatever…

    “Se pilla antes a un mentiroso que a un cojo”.

    Comment by Adriana on January 27, 2012 @ 12:59 pm
  60. This has been discussed many times, but a lot of people still don’t have these concepts clear, or they are unaware of some facts.
    Note:I will use the IPA phonetic transcriptions for accuracy.
    The Medieval sounds evolved a lot between the 14th and 16th century. For example, /ʒ/ (like S in measure) and /ʃ/ (like SH in ship) combined to form /x/, a sound that nowadays is written with a J in Spanish.
    One of the reasons for these changes was that there were four sounds (/z/, /d͡z/, /s/, /t͡s/) that often caused misunderstandings, because they were too close to one another, so eventually the system became simplified.
    The Medieval sounds /z/ (like in zoo) and /s/ merged into a single /s/, so that /z/ does not exist in Spanish any more. However, the sounds /dÍ¡z/ (similar to a z in Japanese) and /tÍ¡s/ (like TS in tsunami) resulted in /θ/ (like TH in thin) in the northern parts of Spain, and /s/ in Andalusia (south of Spain). In other words, the north simplified 4 sounds into two (/s/ and /θ/), and in the south they simplified 4 sounds into one (/s/). This last simplification was named “seseo” for obvious reasons.
    Seseo was originally a perfectly accepted way of speak among educated people in Spain, but later, the government tried to impose the distinction between /s/ and /θ/ to everyone in Spain, and those accustomed to just one sound, probably found it difficult. The seseo still persists in many parts of Andalusia, but maybe some speakers got a bit confused when forced into making the distinction (see next paragraph).
    Some speakers in the south of Spain, especially in some rural areas, only use the /θ/ sound (the opposite of seseo)ËŒ and others mix /s/ and /θ/ in a seemingly random fashionËŒ pronouncing some S correctly, others like /θ/ËŒ sometimes pronouncing the Z like /θ/ (like in the north of Spain), and sometimes like /s/. I remember hearing a person read “El sol y los zapatos” like /Eɾ θoː i loh sapato/ (“sol” pronounced with /θ/ and “zapatos” with /s/; the opposite of people in the north of Spain)
    While the simplification of the system could have theoretically happened simultaneously in Latin America and the south of Spain, it is worth noticing that all ships going to America after the “discovery” from Columbus left from Sevilla, where “seseo” was the norm, and that the records suggest that most of the people who travelled to the Americas were form Sevilla or lived there for a long time, so it is to be expected that “seseo” is the norm over there too.
    Summing up:
    No seseo, or differentiation between Z and S: The standard pronunciation in the north and centre of Spain, where these two letters are pronounced as /θ/ and /s/ respectively.
    Seseo, or no differentiation between Z and S: The standard pronunciation in the south of Spain, Canary Islands and Latin America. Both Z and S are pronounced as /s/.
    Ceceo, or pronouncing the S like a Z in the north of Spain, or lisp: It only happens in the south of Spain, and it is stigmatised as incorrect pronunciation or a defect of speech. Spanish words like “sin” are pronounced almost like “thin” in English in these cases. Some speakers mix the /s/ and /θ/ pronunciation for both S and Z almost randomly.

    Comment by Lisandro on January 27, 2012 @ 9:02 pm




    Comment by TOO EAZY on February 13, 2012 @ 3:48 pm
  62. Writing in all caps and using improper English rather weakens the argument. If you’re a troll, you’re not a good one. If you’re serious, I pity you.

    Comment by Dan on February 13, 2012 @ 4:02 pm
  63. Well, this was an interesting read. I’m from the northern part of Spain (León, to be more precise). I don’t have a lisp, I just speak in the way people speak around these parts. I do use both the “th” and “s” sounds when speaking, as in that example of “gracias -> grathias”.

    If I wanted, I could speak using only the “s” sounds and ditching the “th” (same deal the other way around), but that’s just not how I want to speak, as using both sounds is what comes naturally to me.

    As explained in other posts, some people do speak with all “th” or “s” sounds, but not both at the same time. What irritates me is when people think *everyone* in Spain speaks exclusively with the “th” sounds and label us as having a lisp. That’s not true. And I can’t help but feel some people think of us as vulgar when thinking that way. Ridiculous. Spanish is a very rich language with many variations across many, many countries, and the RAE, as far as I know, recognizes many of those variations as legitimate and correct ways of speaking Spanish. So lisp or no lisp, I can speak for myself and say I don’t have one, as I differentiate the two sounds… and you can bet your ass you won’t find me having a lisp when speaking English (although you will notice the Spanish accent, naturally, and some words coming out “weird”, but that’s lack of practice). There’s no absolute “correct” way of pronunciation when it comes to Spanish anymore.

    I do have the belief my way of speaking Spanish is closest to the “original”, but that’s besides the point and might be incorrect, anyway.

    Comment by Ivan on February 14, 2012 @ 5:23 am
  64. @Ivan That Spanish uses both the ‘th’ and ‘s’ sounds was the whole point of my original post. Spanish doesn’t have any more of a lisp as English speakers do. The comments have become quite verbose and varied, discussing all sorts of other issues with dialects and countries. Thanks for bringing the discussion back to the original post.

    And I’d just like to add that after reading through the comments again, there are probably more long comments here (many longer than the original post) than on any other post on the site. It’s nice to see folks with strong feelings about something ;)

    Comment by Dan on February 14, 2012 @ 11:12 am
  65. I can guess that the story of the lisp could have come from a feeling of animosity that exists throughout Latin America against Spaniards, because they were “the conquerors who looted the land, raped and killed” But how many cultures have invaded the Iberian peninsula to do the same, like the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, where Napoleon’s brother Joseph Bonaparte, took all the gold and silver the Spanish had taken from the American continent, and the French troops looted killed and raped like in every war, but you don’t seem to find animosity against the French in Spain except for the typical comments that everyone else around the world makes about the French arrogance.
    But the lisp story could also have come from the Angle Saxons either English of American, for certain people in the Angle Saxon world they could never get over the fact that Spaniards got to the American continent before them, and explored, mapped and circumnavigated the world before anyone else. By the time the Pilgrims got to America the Spaniards had built a city in Florida, had explored most of the American continent in a time record, including most of what is now the United States and had outposts all throughout the States, but there is a denial in the Spanish history and heritage of United States, and whenever Spaniards are a subject matter, is the same old comments about how they massacred the Indians and stole all the gold. Ronald Reagan is known to have quoted that not to have killed all the Indians was the biggest mistake the Spaniards made in history. Who ever acknowledges the fact that the only thing that you could call “American culture” the cowboy, comes from Mexico? where the Spaniards first brought cattle and horses and the cattle herding culture of the “vaquero” or cowboy.
    no surprise that the black legend still around, the gold thirsty greedy Spaniards were so evil next to those righteous forbearing goody goody pilgrims, come on wake up people, there is no lisp there is only the manipulation of your beliefs. A

    Comment by Pablo on March 1, 2012 @ 3:01 pm
  66. The wikipedia article explains it quite well.

    “Standard” European Spanish pronunciation would be:
    ca, co, cu = ka, ko, ku
    ce, ci = ze, zi
    sa, sa, si, so, su = sa, se, si, so, su

    “Seseo” (American Spanish, some parts of Spain)
    ca, co, cu = ka, ko, ku
    ce, ci = se, si
    za, ze, zi, zo, zu = sa, se, si, so, su

    “Ceceo (lisp)” (Some parts of Spain)
    sa, se, si, so, su = za, ze, zi, zo, zu

    I hope this example can help: a song sang by two different singers, Miguel Rios (the one who starts singing), sings with a “seseo” (like an american spanish speaker would), while Manolo Garcia (starts singing at 1:17) uses the “standard” spanish pronunciation:

    You can notice the difference in the first verse: “¿Dónde estabas entonces, cuando tanto te necesité?”

    Here’s the full lyrics:

    Comment by Elena on June 6, 2012 @ 5:37 am
  67. Actually saying that it’s like Americans telling English people they speak funny is incorrect. In reality, English people developed the accent they have only recently due to the industrial revolution which allowed many lower class people to move up in the social ranks. After moving up, many of these people wanted to distinguish themselves from the “commoners” below them and so picked up the accent. Our forefathers actually spoke with an accent much closer to ours. So technically, yes, English people do speak funny.

    Comment by Sam on January 24, 2013 @ 3:35 pm
  68. As someone whose first language is English and who has been studying Spanish, to the point where I can travel and interact with people in Mexico without a problem, I have to say I find this whole argument to be completely ridiculous. It almost makes me want to stop studying Spanish because of how hateful so many of you are to each other. To those of you who are from Spain and call the folks on the American continent everything from uneducated to worthless, have you thought to think for a moment that for some reason their ancestors left your beloved continent to find a BETTER LIFE somewhere else? Sorry, but this says to me that things weren’t so great there or they wouldn’t have left. And if you’d expect a language to stay stagnant across generations, an ocean, and the influence of indigenous and other European languages, then you know nothing about languages. They evolve with time and distance. If the original Romans were around, they’d probably be flabbergasted at your (and French, Portuguese and Italian’s) horrible bastardization of their pure language. Seriously. And being from the United States, with close friends from England, I might tease them a little (or vice versa) at their pronunciation of vitamin or garage, but ultimately it is endearing and a part of the things that make our different cultures unique and beautiful. I honestly have NEVER heard any Brits tell me with such hatred that my English is wrong, nor would I ever even consider saying such a thing to them. I might ask them what they mean when they say “boot” and then from then on, I’m actually smart enough to remember that that is where we’ll put our cooler when we leave on a day trip together.

    As far as how the different Spanish accents sound to me, an unbiased outsider, I personally LOVE the northern Mexican accent with it’s sing-song quality and clear consonants. And here’s news for you–I cringe at the ‘pure’ Spanish from Spain because to my ear, all those “th” s sound affected, like surely people are making it up to sound pretentious, and it’s nearly impossible for me to understand what they are saying beneath all those extra sibilants. And when I watch movies made in Argentina, their Spanish honestly sounds more like French to me, with all those “j”s and “zzhh”s. I have to really struggle to believe it’s actually Spanish and I SHOULD be able to understand it.

    That said, I would NEVER tell a friend (Like my friends in New York who immigrated from Spain 10 years ago) that their Spanish sounded awful to me. (I’ve politely suffered through the whole “You should be learning Castilian Spanish” lecture without whispering a peep of what I really wanted to say, which was, ” But I HATE the way it sounds.”) WHY? Because they are my friends, and more than that, I RESPECT them and their culture. Maybe I DON’T love the Castilian accent. But lots of people do, and lots of people were born in a home where that is the way their mama talked to them. It would be incredibly rude and insensitive of me to put down their speech. And I am happy to keep my thoughts (which in the end are only an OPINION) to myself in order to be kind to my fellow human beings.

    Why can’t you give up this ridiculous fight that no one else on the planet really cares about and that makes ALL of you hispanohablantes seem petty, childish and less than civil? The more people brag about how much better THEIR Spanish is, the more I become pretty sure that I don’t want to visit their country. Except for Argentina, I’ll still go there (despite their clear attitude of superiority), but only to visit the penguins, who, last I checked, don’t speak any variation of Spanish and couldn’t care less.

    Comment by Chrissie on September 6, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

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