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Spanish Newsletter

Welcome to Vol. 83 of the Spanish Online Newsletter! Part of the Spanish Learning Blog - your weekly lessons with mp3 files, as well as links to Spanish travel spots and more. This week we take a look at Spanish from Spain - something you don't find much about on my websites, as I've lived in several countries in Latin America, but have only visited Spain as a turista. One bizarre thing about Spain is that several of the regions also speak languages OTHER than Spanish! (ay yay yay, as if the vosotros form isn't enough of a curveball...) Another thing that seems strange is that people in Spain don't call their language "Spanish" or Español - they call it "Castellano" - or Castilian (this is also true in Argentina). So beware, you may be asked "¿hablas castellano?" - to which you'll answer, ¡sí!

The podcast isn't quite finished so this is a non audio newsletter, but you'll find the full audio on the podcast page when it's done sometime this week.

I also posted a new piece of software, called the Musical Spanish Animated Videos, Games, & Puzzles. It's an expansion of the animated videos showcase, and adds several new interactive activities. There's a free demo here, and a coupon below for $5 off. The demo is PC only but the program is available for Mac as well.

   


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Short History of the Spanish Language in Spain

The Spanish language first originated as a dialect of Latin in the Northern region of Spain. It became the official language of the kingdom of Castile during the reign of King Alfonso in the 1200's, and from there spread out to become the language used for government dealings in the region, which is why many people still call it "Castellano" instead of "Español." In addition, many Spaniards are from regions of Spain that speak other languages as well, and can seem a bit offended at the idea that "Español" would be the name of the language, when in fact they speak Gallego or Catalán as a first language (an interesting related fact is that in Argentina, a common term for Spaniards is "Gallego" - or a person from Galicia, because of the large numbers of Galicians that emigrated to Argentina.) The other 3 official languages recognized in Spain are Catalán, Gallego, and Basque.

Catalán - spoken in Catalonia where Barcelona is located, as well as Valencia, the country of Andorra and a few other places - approx 11 million speakers

Gallego - spoken in Galicia above Portugal - approx 3 million speakers

Basque - spoken in Basque Country, N. Spain - approx 600,000 speakers

Key Points about the Spanish Spoken in Spain

Pronunciation

As many of you already know, they pronounce many words with what sounds like a lisp in Spain. For z, ci, and ce, they use a "th" sound. Instead of pronouncing words like cielo SEE-YEH-LOH and cemento SEH-MEN-TOH, they pronounce them with a TH or like THEE-YEH-LOH and THEH-MEN-TOH. Instead of SEH-ROH for zero, it sounds like THEH-ROH. The first word you'll probably hear like this is gracias, which will sound like "gratheeas". Latin Americans tend to ridicule this pronunciation a bit, but keep in mind that they believe this to be the true pronunciation of the language in Spain.

Grammar

Use of the vosotros verb tense is the standard in Spain for informal "YOU" plural, whereas in Latin America, ustedes is used. This can take some getting used to. When I was first in Spain a friend and I were traveling with some Spanish guys, and one of the guys turned to ask me, "tenéis mil pesetas?" For a moment I gave the guy a blank stare, not able to make the connection to what this guy was asking me. Then it hit me that he was using the vosotros form, asking me if we had money to help out with the gas. For somebody expecting either "tienes" or "tienen" to be forms of tener that could apply to me or us, the vosotros form threw me off. I remember having to memorize and recite the vosotros tense for all verbs when I took Spanish back in high school. I don't really recommend this - but you should know the present and preterite vosotros form for key verbs and be able to spot it and use it when necessary. The simple formula for converting to the vosotros (which works most but NOT all the time!), is to take the 2nd person or tú form, and end the word in "is". For example:

present tense

tú            tienes
vosotros   tenéis

preterite tense

tú            tuviste
vosotros   tuvisteis

imperfect tense

tú            tenías
vosotros   teníais

You'll find this verb tense very useful in Argentina too, where it's used with vos, which they commonly use instead of . The spelling is different (for example, the present tense is vos tenés - but it does sound almost the same.

Another item mentioned in linguistic articles about Spain is that they use the present perfect frequently instead of the simple preterite - for example, instead of saying "lo hice" they will say "lo he hecho."

Vocabulary

This is not a very comprehensive list - just a few words I remember or saw mentioned in our forum (gracias guys!)

habichuelas - beans
cocina eléctrica - stove
ordenador - computer
cheveré - cool
chulo - cool
mono - handsome/good looking
currar - to work
correo electrónico - email
vale - ok, good
tía, tío - girl or guy
echar de menos - to miss, as in "I miss you"
aparcar - to park
zumo - juice

For people who speak some Spanish and are familiar with Mexican Spanish, this link has many more vocabulary differences. Here's one for Argentine Spanish. One interesting note about vocabulary is that some Latin American countries use more vocabulary you'll find popular in Spain, such as the use of the word "habichuelas" and others in the Dominican Republic. Linguistic theory suggests that since the D.R. was the first point where the Spaniards settled in the New World, more of their vocabulary words stayed in their original form rather than mutating.

voice your view on our forumclick here to discuss this week's newsletter online in our forum

Worksheet/Activity: Spanish from Spain

Quiz: Spanish from Spain

Related Article: Castilian or Spanish? from About.com

Related Article: History of Latin American Spanish (contains info about Spain too)

Related Article: Castilian Spanish and the History of the Spanish Language

Spanish Learning Product of the Week:

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Musical Spanish Animated Videos, Games, and Puzzles

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Spanish Travel Spot Week
 

Famous Mexican Painter and Muralist Diego Rivera


San Sebastian, Spain

This enchanting former fishing village in the far Northern Basque region (also known as el País Vasco) of Spain is known for its beautiful beaches and the seemingly bizarre Euskera or Basque language spoken by some 35 to 50% of the residents, despite the fact that the language was officially banned by the Franco regime in the 1930s. Don't worry, you can still practice your Spanish plenty there! This is a quaint, clean city with a historical district that is fun to walk around. It's one of my favorite places in Spain. Some good image gallerys can be found here.

 

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© Spanish Online 2007, Newsletter Volume 83, 6/23/07

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