Castilian Spanish sometimes refers to the variety of
Peninsular Spanish spoken in northern and central
Spain or as the
language standard for radio and TV speakers. In Spanish,
the term castellano (Castilian) usually refers to the Spanish language
as a whole, or to the medieval
Old Spanish language, a predecessor to
2 Regional variations in Spain
3 Difference with Latin American Spanish
4 See also
6 External links
Map of languages and dialects in Spain.
Main article: Names given to the Spanish language
Castilian Spanish can be used in English for the specific
varieties of Spanish spoken in north and central Spain. Sometimes it
is more loosely used to denote the Spanish spoken in all of
compared to Spanish spoken in Latin America. There are several
different varieties of Spanish, which should not be confused with the
other official and non official languages in Spain, of which Castilian
is only the most prominent because it is the only one official
throughout the whole national territory.
The term in Spanish for varieties spoken in Northern and Central
Spanish would be castellano septentrional ("Northern Castilian").
Español castellano, the literal translation of Castilian Spanish,
while not being a common expression, would be understood literally and
it would only refer to varieties found in Castile itself, so the
varieties found for instance in
Navarra would be excluded
even though they are a part of castellano septentrional.
Regional variations in Spain
Inside Spain, there are many regional variations of Spanish, which can
be divided roughly into four major dialectal areas:
Northern Spanish (northern coast, Ebro and Duero valleys, upper Tajo
and upper Júcar valleys). The dialects in this area are sometimes
Castilian Spanish (only in English), but in fact it excludes
quite a large portion in the historical region of Castile and includes
areas not in it.
Transitional area between North and South (Extremadura, Murcia,
Madrid, La Mancha). The dialects in this area have traits which are
often popularly associated with Andalusia, such as implosive
s-aspiration (systematic or conditioned by context).
Murcia are often lumped into a Southern variety with Andalusian rather
than being considered a part of the transitional area, since Southern
traits are more pervasive there.
Difference with Latin American Spanish
See also: Spanish dialects and varieties
Real Academia Española
Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy or RAE) defines
Castilian Spanish as a standard language, and many speakers accept RAE
as the governing body of the language.
However, some traits of the Spanish spoken in
Spain are exclusive to
that country, and for this reason, courses of Spanish as a second
language often neglect them, preferring
Mexican Spanish in the United
European Spanish is taught in Europe. Spanish
grammar and to a lesser extent pronunciation can vary sometimes
The most striking difference between dialects in central and northern
Latin American Spanish
Latin American Spanish is distinción (distinction), that
is, the pronunciation of the letter z before all vowels, and of c only
for e and i, as a voiceless dental fricative /θ/, English th in
thing. Thus, in most variations of Spanish from Spain, cinco (five) is
pronounced /ˈθinko/ as opposed to /ˈsinko/ in Latin American
Spanish, and similarly for zapato, cerdo, zorro, Zurbarán.
Distinción also occurs in the area around Cusco, Peru, where [θ]
survives in a few words like the numbers doce, trece and, with some
people, in the verb decir.
Additionally, all Latin-American dialects drop the familiar (that is,
informal) vosotros verb form for the second person plural, using
ustedes in all contexts. In most of Spain, ustedes is used only in a
formal context. Some other minor differences are:
The widespread use of le instead of lo as the masculine direct object
pronoun, especially referring to people. This morphological variation,
known as leísmo is typical of a strip of land in central
includes Madrid, and recently it has spread to other regions.
In the past, the sounds for "y" and "ll" were phonologically different
European Spanish subvarieties, compared with only a few
dialects in Latin America, but that difference is now disappearing in
Peninsular Spanish dialects, including the standard (that is,
Castilian Spanish based on the
Madrid dialect). A distinct phoneme for
"ll" is still heard in the speech of older speakers in rural areas
throughout Spain, but most Spanish-speaking adults and youngsters
merge "ll" and "y". In Latin America, "ll" remains different from "y"
in traditional dialects along the Andes range, especially in the
Peruvian highlands, all of Bolivia and also in Paraguay. In the
Philippines, speakers of Spanish and Filipino employ the distinction
between "ll" /ʎ/ and "y" /ʝ/.
In most of Latin America, usted is used more often than in mainland
Spain; however, in Latin America, this tendency is less common among
young people, especially in Caribbean dialects.
In Castilian Spanish, the letter j as well as the letter g before the
letters i and e are pronounced as a stronger velar fricative /x/ and
very often the friction is uvular [χ], while in Latin America they
are generally guttural as well, but not as strong and the uvular
European Spanish are not reported. In the Caribbean,
Colombia, Venezuela, other parts of Latin America, the Canary Islands,
Extremadura and most of western Andalusia, as well as in the
Philippines, it is pronounced as [h].
Characteristic of Spanish from
Spain (except from
Andalusia and the
Canary Islands) is the voiceless alveolar retracted sibilant [s̺],
also called apico-alveolar or grave, which is often perceived as
intermediate between a laminal/dental [s] and [ʃ]. This sound is
prevalent also in Colombian Paisa region, and
Andean Spanish dialects.
Debuccalization of syllable-final /s/ to x, [h], or dropping it
entirely, so that está [esˈta] ("s/he is") sounds like [ehˈta] or
[eˈta], in different degrees and contexts, occurs in Castile–La
Mancha (except North-East) and Madrid; this is most common in southern
Spain (Andalusia, Extremadura, Murcia, Canary Islands, Ceuta, and
Melilla), and some parts of Latin America.
Words containing these three letters together -atl- are pronounced in
a different way in
Castilian Spanish as compared to Mexican Spanish.
In Spain, words like Atlántico and atleta are pronounced according to
the syllabication At-lán-ti-co and at-le-ta. Instead, in Mexico, the
pronunciation follows the syllabication A-tlán-ti-co and
a-tle-ta.[dubious – discuss]
The meaning of certain words may differ greatly between both dialects
of the language: carro refers to car in some Latin American dialects
but to cart in
Spain and some Latin American dialects. Sometimes there
also appear gender differences: el PC (personal computer) in Castilian
Spanish and some Latin American Spanish, la PC in some Latin American
Spanish, due to the widespread use of the gallicism ordenador (from
l'ordinateur in French) for computer in Castilian Spanish, which is
masculine, instead of the Latin-American-preferred computadora, which
is feminine, from the English word computer (the exceptions being
Colombia and Chile, where PC is known as computador, which is
Also, speakers of the second dialect tend to use words and polite-set
expressions that, even if recognized by the RAE, are not widely used
nowadays (some of them are even deemed as anachronisms) by speakers of
Castilian Spanish. For example, enojarse and enfadarse are verbs with
the same meaning (to become angry), enojarse being used much more in
the Americas than in Spain, and enfadarse more in
Spain than in the
Selected vocabulary differences
Latin American Spanish2
bien (universal), listo (Colombia), dale (Argentina, Chile)
anteojos/lentes (mean spectacles or lenses in Spain), gafas (Mexico)
papa (fem.) (also in Andalusia, the Canary Islands,
potato (papa also means poppet or child)
judía, alubia, etc.
chévere/chido/piola/bacán (depending on country)
head (of an apparatus)
1Many of the vocabulary examples are used throughout
Spain and not
necessarily specific to just Castilian Spanish.
Latin American Spanish
Latin American Spanish consists of several varieties spoken
throughout the Americas so the examples may not represent all
dialects. They are meant to show contrast and comparing all variants
of Latin America as a whole to one variant of
Spain would be
impossible as the majority of the vocabulary will be reflected in
Standard Spanish - the standard form that is very different from the
medieval Spanish language-base
^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Random House Inc. 2006.
^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.).
Houghton Mifflin Company. 2006.
^ Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 1998.
^ "Encarta World English Dictionary". Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 2007.
Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
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