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Spanish speech vs Mexican vs Cuban (1 Viewer)

Kirk Gunn

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As I get older, I've got an urge to learn a second language. Figure that Spanish (and it's variations) will be the most useful.

Since we travel to Miami and Texas frequently, I was wondering what the major differences are between Spanish, Mexican and Cuban speech ? Radically different, or just minor variations in theme ?

Hopefully they won't be as full of contrast as "British English" versus "California Surfer English" versus "Boston English" versus "Southern drawl", etc....
 

ChristopherDAC

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Major differences.

All the different Spanish-speaking countries have radically different dialects, to the extent that a normal word or construction in one dialect can be an insult in another. To make matters worse, everybody claims that they, and only they, speak the true Castilian Spanish. The Argentineans, for instance, omit all of the "polite" or "respect" forms of speech [such as 3d-person-with-"usted" instead of 2d person, or "nosotros" instead of "nos"]. The "Spanish" spoken on the streets in LA is very different from what passes for the same language in Miami, to the extent that there would be serious difficulties in understanding.

It's like putting a Scotsman from the Orkeny Islands in a room with a South Indian and a Gullah-speaking Black American [though technically Gullah is a separate language].
 

Lew Crippen

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I’ve never lived in Spain or Cuba, so I don’t really know that much about the differences that exist in countries about which you ask.

However I do know several people who speak (at least so I’ve been told) with a proper Castilian accent and I lived in Buenos Aries for a while and in Caracas (I understand that the accent there is very similar to Spanish as spoken in Cuba) for a longer period, so I do have some familiarity with regional differences.

As Christopher mentions, there are variations that exist in verb declination (for example you never hear vosotros in Venezuela) and differences exist in accents (though to my ear not so pronounced as the example given by Christopher) and slang usage.

In Venezuela (and Cuba), stay away from the word, papaya and use lechosa, as papaya refers to female genitalia. But if you are in Argentina, don’t use the Spanish word for shell, la concha for the very same reason.

But these things are very easy to pick up, as are many of the accents. Porteños (natives of Buenos Aries) pronounce the ‘ll’ as ‘sh’ instead of a ‘y’ sound in most other Spanish speaking areas. In Caracas, most natives swallow the last syllable of many words, especially those than end in ‘s’.

And I almost forgot the famous lisp of the Castilians.

Also Spanish as spoken by Mexicans, has borrowed a good many words (foods, for example) from the native Indian languages (most especially Aztec).

And some variations are just which (near) synonyms are in predominant use locally. For example where I live the most used word for small is chico, but I frequently say pequeño, because that is the usage I learned in Venezuela and everyone understands what I mean (even through my heavy accent).

And on and on.

But really, not that big a deal. Go ahead and learn one form or anothher. After all, you may wish to impress a Latina some day.
 

Kirk Gunn

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Thanks for the feedback. I will remember never to order conch fritters with a side of sliced papaya in any spanish-speaking nation !
 

D. Scott MacDonald

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You've clearly never spent time in Maracaibo, where they use Vos as slang for Tu. Como esta vos? or Quantos anos teneis vos? Of course they always drop the "s" sound, so it all comes out as "vo".

You are correct that almost all nouns used in Venezuela are unique to Venezuela.
 

Trey Fletcher

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While in high school, I was on a community service trip to Mexico with an exchange student from Spain. The exchange student was just as lost as those of us who were not studying Spanish.
 

Lew Crippen

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Actually I've spent some very limited time in Maracaibo. But not enough to have conversed casually.
 

Kevin Hewell

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I was taught in both high school and college (h.s. teacher from Ecuador, college teacher from Spain) that vosotros was only used in Spain.
 

Ricardo C

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Yes, yes, to Lew you listen ;) To make matters even more complicated, "una papaya" is also Venezuelan slang for a very easy task. "Papayita", too.

I disagree that our accent resembles the Cuban one. Cuban speech cadences are very distinctive, and easily spotted among Venezuelans.

Also, although "vos" is in wide use in Maracaibo (my hometown), it's very different from the Castilian and even the Argentinian form. You'll NEVER hear "vosotros" from a maracucho. Our use of "vos" is decidely more colloquial than the traditional form, and is considered wholly unacceptable in formal settings.

Good luck with your plans to learn Spanish :):emoji_thumbsup: It's a beautiful (if slightly maddening) language.
 

Matt Stryker

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A lot of south american dialects omit the s at the end of words, so instead of mas o menos a Chilean is more likely to say mah o mehno. Generally native Cuban and Puerto Rican speakers speak more rapidly, although people from the coastal regions of Mexico may also do the same thing.

And of course vocabulary is tremendously varied, probably moreso than Australia/England is vs the US. Big ones that get visitors to Mexico are chaqueta (jacket in every other country, but here it means TO jack it :) ), any form of the verb coger, and buey/guey/wey (pronounced like that stuff that little Miss Muffet was eating). It can variably mean: dude, jackass, or castrated bull(the real meaning).
 

ChristopherDAC

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My uncle is a rural parish priest here in Texas, so of course about half of his congregation is Mexican in origin. They're nominally Spanish speakers, but sometimes I darkly suspect that they're actually speaking gutter Nahauatl. Anyway, he remarked once that he has trouble keeping his colloquial Spanish in order [as opposed to the sermons which he composes in advance], so he basically uses the simplest forms. He gets away with "tu" to anybody, because of the Roman collar. Not recomended for the general public! ;)
 

John Alvarez

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If your a gringo learning then people generally don't care as long as you are attempting. My wife is Cuban and the drop the s a lot and V is sounded as a B. It really screwed me up a lot when taking classes. My teacher is columbian and I hear they speak very proper spanish. They pronounce yo as jo.
 

Jacinto

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Native Peruvian here. I had never heard the vosotros tense until I took Spanish here in the States in high school in order to brush up on the fine points of grammar. I used to work at a place that employed a lot of Mexicans and many times I was called on to better communicate things from the front office staff to the floor workers and things went fine until they started throwing out slang, and a few of the guys I was trying to talk to spoke around 50% slang. I've never had any trouble understanding other South Americans (excluding Brasilenos) even with the slight differences in pronunciations on b's or v's or ll's -- it just takes a few minutes for your brain to realize what they're doing and then it's smooth sailing. Cubans though, that's another matter altogether. My mother-in-law came to the States from Cuba when she was 16, and I had a terrible time understanding her and her mother. It wasn't just that they dropped off the last half of every damn word, but they mumbled as well. I would sit there listening to them thinking "I am fluent in this language. Why can't I understand anything they're saying?"

I've found the biggest things to look out for in different countries is slang, of course, and food, especially fruits and vegetables. I can't count the times I've been reading the menu in a restaurant wondering what the hell came with the steak only to find out it was something basic like mushrooms.

What I find funny though, is that most Spanish-speaking nationalities feel they speak very proper Spanish, yet not only do they all sound different from each other, but they sound different from Spanish in Spain as well.
 

Michael Harris

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While I was stationed in Spain I got an interesting insight into how Spaniards view other forms of Spanish. I was going the mandatory indoctrination class and there a lot of American Hispanics in the class. One of my class mates said something to our Spanish instructor, who has been doing the indoctrination class for the U.S. Navy for about 25 years, and he responded "We don't speak that way!" It wasn't what he said the caught me by surprise but the extremely haughty tone in which he said it.
 

Matt Stryker

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Its funny, because after learning Latin American spanish, Castillian sounds extremely effeminate and unmanly with all the lisping. The urban legend I've heard for its origin is that a past Spanish royal had a lisp, and so his subjects copied him to keep embarrasment to a minimum...not sure of its veracity.

El pozo(the well) would sound like El Potho in castillian spanish.
 

Lew Crippen

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Agreed—I was sending a technician who worked in my organization to Spain for an extended period and he was determined to not stand out when he arrived. So he went around for a couple of months practicing the ‘lisp’.

It drove the rest of us crazy—and we all questioned his manhood. ;)
 

Peter Burtch

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Kirk,

As much as I value my experience conversing with speakers of peninsular (Iberian) Spanish, I have found less use for it in Chicago or when I travel to South Florida, or for that matter, Belize or Mexico. Although learning all of the proper verb forms is useful, IMO learning/understanding the Spanish of Mexico will take you a lot farther in most of the U.S. I've always compared it to speaking Tom Brokaw's (Ohio) midwestern U.S. English. More people will be able to follow you than if you retain a dialect with a stronger accent. YMMV. For example, I had a Portuguese instructor from college who spoke with a noticeable Rio de Janeiro accent. Little did I realize that I would not be as intelligible when trying to chat with someone from Portugal ;).

best,
Pete

 

Kirk Gunn

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Folks - thanks again for the great feedback.

I guess my dilemma now is to try and find a course to speak Mexican.... Google always returns Spanish as the language to learn for Mexico !
 

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