Dare to Ask: Do Spaniards view Latinos as butchering
the Spanish language?
By Phillip Milano
The Florida Times-Union
Do Spaniards view Latinos as butchering the Spanish language?
Ridley, 22, white male, Chambersburg, Penn.
I don't think South Americans are butchering Spanish, but I find it
irritating when South Americans refer to themselves as "Spanish."
Jade, 16, Spanish, Australia
I'm from Venezuela, and when we talk to North Americans or Europeans, we
never refer to ourselves as Spanish; actually, we hate when somebody says we are
"Spanish" -- we say Venezuelan or Colombianos, etc.
Monica, 15, Caracas, Venezuela
There is a big difference in Castilian Spanish and the various dialects in
Latin America, and even within Spain. Just like in the United States with a
person from New York trying to talk to a person from New Orleans.
Frank, 34, Hispanic, Denver
Unfortunately, some folks from Spain do think that Latin Americans don't
speak properly. But the same thing happens within Spain.
Spaniards, especially ones using the Castilian dialect, sound like Elmer Fudd
[Editor's note: make that Daffy Duck] to me. They use a "th" sound in place of
all the "s" sounds: Buenath diath thenor. Sometimes it's hard for me to keep a
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian male, Phoenix
You're wrong. In the "Castilian" dialect as you call it, no one says Buenath
diath -- not only because dia is masculine and so would take buenos -- but also
because the "th" sound is only used for "z" and "c" when followed by "e" or "i."
Maria, Hispanic, United Kingdom
Some Spaniards do tend to look down on Latin Americans -- even using the
nasty racial slur sudaca to refer to South American immigrants, said Professor
Dan Greenberg, director of Latin American Studies at Pace University in New
York. Some of the mistreatment comes from being confronted with people perceived
as "different," and often "what marks you is the way you talk."
"There is a lot of mean harassment," he said. "Spaniards in general have
always taken a superior attitude toward Latins. ... Spain has moved forward
culturally, but old attitudes die hard."
Some of the language differences are because Spanish evolved as its use grew
in Latin America. For example, Mexicans use a more syncopated rhythm when they
talk, Greenberg said. And Lunfardo, a street slang that started with the poor,
underworld and prostitutes, is spoken in places like Buenos Aires and can be
hard to grasp for an average Spanish speaker.
As far as jabs about Spaniards talking "funny": In Castilian Spanish, spoken
in central and northern Spain, they do pronounce "c" and "z" as "th."
"Some think they have a lisp problem, but they are just correctly pronouncing
those letters that way, in that language," Greenberg said.
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