Friday, April 25, 2008

the Spanish of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville

Many people may not know that besides Spanish, Spain has other languages such as Basque, a language isolate, and Catalan and Galician, other Romance languages. Catalan is spoken in eastern Spain, in cities such as Barcelona. Galician is spoken in northwestern Spain, in cities such as Vigo. In addition to these languages, Spain has many dialects of Spanish. Residents of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville all speak distinct varieties of Spanish.

Many residents of Barcelona are bilingual speakers of Spanish and Catalan. Their Spanish can be characterized as Catalan Spanish. Speakers of Catalan Spanish have a patal lateral, a sound which was once common in Spanish. They use a palatal lateral in words such as "llamar" (to call) and "silla" (chair). Other Spanish speakers use a palatal approximant in such words. Also typical of Catalan Spanish are the velarized alveolar lateral in words such as "sal" (salt), "sol" (sun) and "alto" (tall) and the devoiced dental plosive in words such as "Madrid" (Madrid) and "sed" (thirst). For other Spanish speakers these words are pronounced with a voiced interdental fricative. Note that the devoiced dental plosives occur word-finally.

Residents of Madrid use a pharyngeal fricative in words such as "jalea" (jelly), "jefe" (boss) and "general" (general). The "s" is either apico-alveolar or apico-dental as in northern and central Spain. The Spanish of Madrid is classified as Castilian Spanish and is considered standard.

Residents of Seville do not use the voiceless interdental fricative. In words such as "gracias" (thanks), "feliz" (happy) and "cielo" (sky), they use a lamino-alveolar or lamino-dental fricative as in Latin America. However, residents of the province of Seville who are not from the city of Seville use only the voiceless interdental fricative in all cases. For example, they pronounce the word "gracias" with two voiceless interdental fricatives. Residents of the city of Seville use a voiceless lamino-dental or lamino-alveolar fricative in this word. In other parts of southern Spain, speakers use a voiceless interdental fricative followed by a voiceless lamino-dental or lamino-alveolar fricative in the word "gracias", maintaining a distinction between the voiceless interdental fricative and the lamino-dental/alveolar fricative. In central and northern Spain, speakers also preserve a distinction but it is between the voiceless interdental fricative and the apico-dental/alveolar fricative.

Residents of Seville are known for the elision of intervocalic "d" in words such as "lado" (side) and "todo" (everything). The "r" is often elided word-finally as in "flor" (flower) and "mar" (sea). The pharyngeal fricative of northern and central Spain is realized as a velar fricative in words such as "jalea" (jelly), "jefe" (boss) and "general" (general). Also, the syllable-final "s" in words such as "fresco" (fresh) and "costa" is often pronounced as a glottal fricative or deleted. In word-final position such as "semanas" (weeks) and "restaurantes" (restaurants), the "s" is very likely to be deleted, especially if it sentence-final.

Spain is a country of many varieties of Spanish. As a result of this variety, it is often easy to tell which part of Spain a person is from. Residents of Barcelona, Madrid and Seville usually speak with accents which are relatively different from one another. Thus, the Spanish of Spain is spoken in many dialects.

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