Languages in Latin America

Languages in Latin America

The main language spoken in Latin America is Spanish, since the Spanish colonized most of the area.

Portuguese is spoken in Brazil; French, English and Dutch can be heard in the Caribbean.

There are also a great number of indigenous languages which are still spoken throughout Latin America.

Latin America

Latin American Spanish

Latin American Spanish is different to European Castilian Spanish and is particularly noticeable in its spoken form, not to mention colloquial expressions. It is not dissimilar to the differences between American English and British English.

The most common difference between the languages is the word you – Tu, Usted, Vosotros and Ustedes. In Latin American Spanish the vosotros form is not used, Ustedes is used for both plural forms of you. Often too, Vos is used instead of Tu.

In Spain ‘z’ and ‘c’ can be pronounced as a ‘s’ or ‘th’ sound (th is particularly used in Andalusia in the south of Spain). In Latin America, it is almost always a ‘s’ sound, so doce (twelve) sounds like dossay, rather than dothay.

Spanish

Many Latin Americans sound very soft and song like when speaking compared to Europeans and the Argentines in particular have a distinctive accent, whereby they use a ‘juh/sh’ sound to replace ‘ll’ and ‘y’, so playa (beach) sounds like plarzjah.

You will also hear that some Latin American countries drop certain sounds in the middle and at the end of words.

Finally, different Latin American countries and indeed different regions or cities, can use different words. A computer is an ordenador in Spain, but computadora in most Latin American countries. Coche is a car, but in Argentina and Central America it means baby buggy.

Many verbs have different meanings in Latin American Spanish with sexual or rude connotations so be sure to check which words they are before you visit. Coger and pisar are two common examples of this.

A short stay studying at a Spanish school in Latin America will help you to learn Spanish understand local expressions and recognize different accents.