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Mexican Spanish vs. Castilian Spanish

Thursday, Jul 25th, 2013

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Did you know that when big hits such as the Harry Potter films are dubbed for the Spanish-speaking market, three or more different versions are always released?

On this note, we are often asked if all Spanish is the same. Similar to English, there are different varieties based on where you live. There are nine major regional variations of the Spanish language.

  • Castilian, or the variety spoken in northern and central Spain
  • Andalusian, or the variety spoken in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia
  • Canarian, or the variety spoken in the Canary Islands
  • Caribbean, or the variety spoken in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, and northern Colombia
  • Mexican, or the variety spoken in Mexico, although there are various sub-regional variations
  • Central American, or the variety spoken in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica
  • Andean, or the variety spoken in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and southern Colombia
  • Chilean, or the variety spoken in Chile
  • Rioplatense, or the variety spoken in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay

Today, we will compare two: Castilian and Mexican Spanish.

Grammar: In last week’s blog, we looked at the different words for “you,” but there are other small differences.

In Mexican Spanish, it is both common and acceptable to add -ito/-ita, a diminutive suffix, as an affectionate gesture. One may often hear of someone going to have a cafecito (coffee) with their amiguita (friend). However, this would sound odd to the Castilian ear.

Pronunciation: The most striking difference is the pronunciation of “z.” For example, in Mexican Spanish, casar, or “to marry,” would sound the same as cazar, or “to hunt,” which may make for an awkward misunderstanding unless you are hunting for a bride!

Vocabulary: Mexican Spanish has been influenced by various indigenous languages and English, so many words are different from Castilian Spanish. For instance, “car” is coche in Castilian Spanish but carro in Mexican Spanish. For a longer list of words, click here.

Despite all these differences, this not to say that a speaker of Castilian Spanish and a speaker of Mexican Spanish would not understand each other if put in the same room. If a form of media is published in Mexican Spanish, it will not be “translated” into Castilian Spanish. Readers in Spain, or anywhere else for that matter, will understand the original version of the document.


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