----- Original Message -----
From: "Trebor Jung" <[log in to unmask]>

> How different are the Arabics spoken in Morocco, Iraq, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia
> etc., the Germans spoken in Germany, Switzerland, Austria etc., the Frenches
> spoken in France, Canada, French Guiana etc., and the Spanishes and Portugueses
> spoken around the world?

AFAIK the dialects of Spanish differ as follows...


1) According to their treatment of the palatal approximants (the
ones written "y" and "ll"), which merge almost everywhere into a
sound that may be palatal or postalveolar, voiced or unvoiced,
approximant or fricative.

2) According to their treatment of the dental and alveolar
fricatives, which have been merged almost everywhere into
alveolar /s/ (dialects of European Spanish preserve the /T/ - /s/
distinction). European Spanish also has an apical /s/, while the
rest have a laminal /s/. Influence from Basque apical /s/?

3) According to the pronunciation of the phonemical voiced stops,
especially in rapid speech. Between vowels /b d g/ are taken to
be fricatives [B D G], but most dialects have something more like
approximants; the degree of friction varies. Many drop them
altogether. For example, I hear Mexican Spanish with lots of
friction, while Central American and Caribbean varieties soften
or elide their intervocallic voiced stops in certain positions.

4) According to their treatment of syllable-final /s/, which some
dialects keep and others turn into [h] or drop completely.

5) According to their pronunciation of the trill and the flap
(/r/ and /4/). Rioplatense tends to drop the flap word-finally
(or morpheme-finally, when it's part of the infinitive verb
ending). Some dialects fricativize /r/, at least word-initially;
in Argentina's northern provinces it sounds like a coarticulation
of /r/ and /Z/, sometimes even with a short aspiration (/t_hrZ/
-- with an alveolar /t/, not dental). I've heard /r/'s in other
South American dialects pronounced with a distinct sibillance
(like /r/ plus an apico-alveolar fricative, often devoiced).

7) Others: Chilean Spanish tends to deaffricate "ch" /tS/ into
/S/, and conversely, they sometimes pronounce borrowed /S/ as
/tS/. European Spanish, IIHC, keeps the velar quality of /x/, or
at least doesn't front it as much as other dialects, when a front
vowel follows ("gitano" is [xi'tano] in Spain, [Ci'tano] over


Two major splits here.

1) European Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish on the issue of
the second person plural pronoun and the corresponding verb
forms. Spain has "vosotros" with a second person plural verb,
while Latin America has "ustedes" with a *third* person plural

2) Various LA dialects on the issue of the second person singular
pronoun (and verb forms). There are dialects that use the pronoun
"tú" as in Spain, and others (most notably Rioplatense) that use
"vos" with a different verb form (resembling the plural form used
with "vosotros" in Spain). [I was delighted to hear _CNN en
espaņol_'s Glenda Umaņa (Colombian?) let out a "vos" the other

European Spanish also uses the object pronouns "le", "les" for
verb objects that refer to male people, reserving "lo", "los" for
masculine non-personal objects and "la", "las" for feminine
referrents and female people. Latin American Spanish only
distinguishes gender, not animacy, so only "lo(s)" and "la(s)"
are used for direct objects, while "le(s)" is used for INDIRECT
objects of any gender.


Lots of variation, of course. I haven't travelled so I can't tell
much. I know that I needed subtitles to understand some of
Benicio del Toro's *Spanish* in "Traffic", and sometimes news
anchors from Spain are similarly unintelligible when they're
speaking fast...

--Pablo Flores