South American Spanish Dialectology

Country Summaries

Argentina

Buenos Aires: porteños, Andalusian; interior: cuyanos, conservative.

    /ʎ/, /ʝ/ → [ʒ] (zheísmo) (porteño, south through Patagonia and east of a line running from Córdoba to Bariloche) /ʎ/, /ʝ/ → [ʃ] (sheísmo) (Buenos Aires) /ʎ/, /ʝ/ → [ʒ], [ʝ] (Santiago del Estero) /r/ → [r̥] (interior, North) /s/ → [h] before another consonant: esto → [ˈe̞ʰto] (popular speech) /r/ → [∅] when final in infinitive: mirar → [mira] (some areas, rapid speech)

Bolivia

Andalusian; very early in highlands, later type brought during late colonial period elsewhere.

    /ʎ/ ≠ /ʝ/: halla [haʎa] ≠ haya [aja] /s/ → [h] when syllable final (llanos) /x/ → [h] /r/ → [ʐ] (antiplano) V → [∅] (vowel reduction), in the unstressed syllable, following or preceeding primary stress, is very common: Potsí, ofsina, cochs /ado/ → ['ao] (llanos)

Chile

    /tʃ/ → [t͡s] /x/ → [ç] before e and i /r/ → [ʐ] /tɾ/ → [tʐ] /s/ → [h] /f/ → [ɸ]: fabla → [ɸabla] /ʎ/ → [ʝ] (yeísmo): cayó, calló → [kaˈjo] /k/, /ɡ/, /x/ palatalized before front vowel: queso → [ˈceːso]; guía → [ˈʝia]; jinete → [çiˈn̪eːt̪e] /ado/ → ['ao] (as in Venezuela, Cuba, Costa Rica and Colombia) /tʃ/ → [ʃ]: Chile → [ˈʃiːle] (lower-class) /tʃ/ → [t͡s], [t̪ˢ] (upper-class) [h]+[β̞], [h]+[ɣ̞] → [f], [x], after /s/ → [h]: resbaló → [rɛfaˈloː]; rasgó → [raˈxoː] /ɾn/ → [nn]: jornada → [xonˈn̪aː] /bl/ → [ul]: inolvidable → [in̪olˈβ̞jaːule]

Colombia

    /x/ → [h] /b/, /d/, /g/ → [b], [d], [g] (occlusive) after any consonant or after a semivowel: verde → ['βerde], not ['βerðe]

Eastern Cordillera

    /r/, /tɾ/, -/ɾ/ → [ʐ], [tʐ], -[ʐ] (by assibilation) /ʎ/ and /ʝ/ distinguished

Nariño

Similar to neighboring highland Ecuador.

    V → [∅] (vowel reduction), in unstressed syllables (partes[parts], etc.) /'ado/ ↛ ['ao] /s/ apicodental, tensely grooved, and strongly sibilant (cf. highland Mexico and Bolivia, and to some extent Peru) /s/ → [z] (word final before vowel, and even intervocalically, sometimes)

Antioquia

    /s/ → [ʃ] (apicoalveolar) (in many speakers) /ʝ/ so tense it is heard as an affricate [ʝ̂], intervocalically

Cauca-Valle

"Standard" Spanish.

    /r/ not assibilated /s/ not apicoalveolar /ʎ/ and /ʝ/ not distinguished lacks weak consonantismo of the coasts /n/ → [m] (word final before a pause or a vowel)

Coastal Colombia

Similar to Caribbean.

    /s/ → [h] or [∅] /n/ → [ŋ] when word-final before a pause or a vowel /r/ and /l/ → [r], [l], [ʎ] when word final /tʃ/ → [tʲ]

Costa Rica

    /t/ → [k] in diminutives: momentito → [momen'tiko] (also common in Colombia, Cuba) /r/, /tɾ/, -/ɾ/ → [ʐ], [tʐ], -[ʐ] (by assibilation) (except in Guanacaste and on Pacific coast) /n/ → [ɲ] when word final before pause or vowel: en amor → [eɲa'mor] /ʝ/ weakens or disappears when intervocalic /s/ → [h] (Guanacaste, Pacific coast) /r/ → [ɹ]

Cuba

    /s/ → [h] or [∅]: disfrutar → ['difrutar]; fresco → ['freco]; despues → [de'pue] /n/ → [ŋ] when word-final before a pause or a vowel, or simply nasalization of the preceeding vowel /r/ → [r̥] /tʃ/ → [ʃ] /r/ → -[l] when word-final /ado/ → ['ao] (as in Venezuela, Cuba, Costa Rica and Colombia) /t/ → [k] in diminutives: momentito → [momen'tiko] (also common in Colombia, Cuba)

Dominican Republic

    /s/ → [h] or [∅] when syllable final /x/ → [h] /n/ → [ŋ] when word-final before a pause or a vowel /ʎ/ → [ʝ] /ɾ/ → semivowel: carne → ['kaine] (in the north) /ɾ/ → [l]: carne → ['kalne] (Santo Domingo) /ɾ/ → doubling of consonent: carne → ['kanne] /r/ → [r̥] (as in Cuba) /r/ → [ʀ̥] tierra → ['tjeʀ̥a] (extreme Southeast)

Ecuador

Division between Costa and Sierra. Coast has usual features of costeño Spanish.

    /s/ ↛ [h] or [∅] when syllable final; pronounced with deliberate tenseness (serrano, as in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru) V → [∅] (vowel reduction), in unstressed syllables: oficina → [of'sina]; accidentes → [aksi'dents]; pase usted → [pas'sted] (serrano) /ʎ/ → [ʒ]: valla → ['βaʒa]; opposed to /j/ = [j] (central core) /s/ → [z] when word final before vowel: las aguas → [laz 'aɣwas] (central core; almost unique in America) /s/ → [h] or [∅] when syllable final (lowlands) /ɾ/ → [r](lowlands) /ado/ → ['ao] (lowlands)

El Salvador

Phonology lies between the highland conservatism of Mexico, Colombia, and the Andes, and the lowland "relaxed" trends of coastal Spanish America.

    /b/, /d/, /g/ → [b], [d], [g] (occlusive) after any consonant or after a semivowel: verde → ['βerde], not ['βerðe] /x/ → [h] /x/ → [∅] intervocally in emphatic expressions: pendejo → [pen'deo]; México → ['meiko] /s/ → [h] or [θ] when syllable final /ʎ/ → [ʝ] (yeísmo)

Guatemala

Resembles Costa Rican more than El Salvadoran.

    /r/, /tɾ/, -/ɾ/ → [ʐ], [tʐ], -[ʐ] (by assibilation) /x/ → [h] /ʝ/ weakens or disappears when intervocalic: capilla → [ka'pia] /s/ tensely grooved and strongly sibilant (cf. highland Mexico and Andes)

Honduras

    /b/, /d/, /g/ → [b], [d], [g] (occlusive) after any consonant or after a semivowel: verde → ['βerde], not ['βerðe] /ʝ/ weakens or disappears when intervocalic: capilla → [ka'pia] /x/ → [h] /f/ → [ɸ] (most of population) /ɾ/ → [l] when syllable final (some areas in interior) /l/ → [ɾ] when syllable final (some areas in interior) /n/ → [ɲ] when word final: en amor → [eɲa'mor] /s/ → [h] before another consonant: esto → [ˈe̞ʰto] /s/ → [h] when word initial after a vowel: la semana → [la'hemana] (many areas) /s/ → [h] when intervocalic within a word: presidente → [prehi'ðente] (many areas) /s/ → [θ] (some speakers)

Mexico

Intonation, tendency to lengthen the articulation of /s/, general preference for the consonant over the vowel.

    /s/ → [h] or [∅] /e/ in closed syllable more open than the peninsular vowel V → [∅] (vowel reduction), in the unstressed syllable, following or preceeding primary stress, is very common: trastos → [ˈtɾasts]; pesos, pesas, peces → [ˈpesᵊs]; pastas, pastes, pastos → [ˈpasts] /x/ (jota) prepalatal or postpalatal depending on vocalic environment /x/ → [h] (Southern Coasts) /x/ → [χ] (Oaxaca, Mayan influence) /ʎ/ and /ɣ/ leveled to one phoneme /ʝ/ weakens or disappears when intervocalic: bella → [beja], capilla → [ka'pia]; sometimes becomes [ʒ] /ʝ/ → [ʒ] when intervocalic: caballo → [kaβ'aʒo] (Oaxaca, elsewhere) /n/ → [ŋ] before a pause or an initial vowel in following word (Southern Mexico, Yucatán) /r/ → [z̺] (uncommon, perhaps attitudinal) /ɾ/ has retroflex variant [ɽ] (Yucatán) [t͡s], [t͡ɬ], [ʃ] due to influence from local languages like Nahuatl: tlapalería → [t͡ɬapaleˈɾia]; Xola → [ˈʃola] /tʃ/ → [ʃ]: (Northern Western Mexico, and variants influenced by Mayan languages)

Nicaragua

    /d/ → [∅] when intervocalic in many contexts /x/ → [h] /x/ → [∅] when intervocalic, especially between non-front vowels: trabajo → [tra'βao] /ʝ/ → [∅] when intervocalic with /e/ and /i/: gallina → [ga'ina]; sello → ['seo]; calle → ['cae] /i/, /e/ → [ij], [ej] (hypercorrection): María → [ma'rija]; vea → ['veja] /b/, /d/, /g/ → [b], [d], [g] (occlusive) after any non-nasal consonant: algo → ['algo], not ['alɣo]; alba → ['alba]; arde → ['arde] /n/ → [ɲ] when word final at end of syntagma (muy bien) or before vowel (bien hecho) /s/ → [h] or [∅] when syllable final or word final (very widespread in all but most formal contexts) /r/ → [ɾ] (speakers for whom Spanish is a second language) /ɾ/, /r/ → [ɹ] (speakers for whom Spanish is a second language)

Panama

    /tʃ/ → [ʃ]: muchacho → [muʃaʃo] especially when not word-initial (Panama City; less educated speakers) /d/ → [∅] when intervocalic /d/ → [t] or most often [∅] at end of syntagma /n/ → [ɲ] when word final at end of syntagma (muy bien) or before vowel (bien hecho) /ɾ/, /l/ → [∅] when syllable final, especially /ɾ/ at end of infinitives (/r/ more so than /l/) (lower classes, countryside) /ɾ/, /l/ → [h] (or less frequently [∅]) before a consonant (/r/ more so than /l/) (lower classes, countryside) /s/ → [h] or [∅] when syllable final or word final (uniform except in some careful, professional speech) /d/ → [ɾ] when intervocalic: adobe → [aɾobe] (afro-antillanos) /b/, /d/, /g/ → [b], [d], [g] (occlusive) after any consonant or after a semivowel: verde → ['βerde], not ['βerðe] (afro-antillanos)

Paraguay

    /ʎ/ and /ʝ/ distinguished /ʎ/ → [ɟ͡ʝ] when intervocalic (frequently) /tr/ → alveolarized ??? /r/, /ɾ/ ↛ [ʐ] C → [∅] in word final position (mostly) /t/, /d/ → [tᵞ], [dᵞ](frequency unclear) /d/ → [t] (or sometimes /ɾ/) when syntagma-final: amistad → [amistat] /b/, /d/ → [∅] when intervocalic /b/ → [v] (including when word-initial) /x/ → [ç] /s/ → [h] when syllable-final and word-final (in almost all cases) /s/ → [∅] when syntagma-final (mostly) /n/ → [ŋ] (only sporadically) C#V → C[ʔ]V

Peru

    /ʎ/ ≠ [ʝ] (highlands of the south, Cuzco, Puno) /ʎ/ → [ʝ] (highlands of the north, especially among urban, well-educated class) /n/ → [ŋ] (highlands) /tʃ/ → [ʃ]: (sometimes) /r/ → [ʐ] /r/ → [ʒ] mirar → [miʒaʒ] (south, from Cuzco to Puno) V → [∅] (vowel reduction), in the unstressed syllable, following or preceeding primary stress, is very common: Potsí, ofsina, cochs /b/, /d/, /g/, /y/ ↛ [∅] entre vocales(Cuzco) /b/, /d/, /g/, /y/ → [∅] entre vocales: trabajo → [tra'ajo]; cansada→ [kans'aa] mantequilla → [mante'kia]; rodilla → [rod'ia]; brillo → [br'io] (strong tendency in Lima) /s/ ↛ [h]

Puerto Rico

    /x/ → [h] /n/ → [ŋ] when word final /s/ → [h] or [∅] when syllable final /r/ → [l] when syllable final (lambdacismo): verdad → [βelda] (30% in San Juan; lower classes, rural speakers) /b/, /d/, /g/ → [b], [d], [g] (occlusive) after any consonant or after a semivowel: verdad → [bel'da] (tendancy) /tʃ/ → [tj] noche → [notje] (except parts of southwest) /r/ → [ʀ̥] tierra → ['tjeʀ̥a] (practically all of the country)

United States


Uraguay

    /ʎ/, /ʝ/ → [ʒ] → [ʃ] ([ʃ] not as common as in Buenos Aires) /s/ → [h] when preconsonantal (except in careful speech) /n/ → [ŋ] when word-final (uniformly) /d/ → [∅] when intervocalic (frequently, in all registers) /x/ = [x]

Venezuela

For the most part same as Caribbean.

    /x/ → [h] (as in all of Colombia) /s/ → [h] or [∅] /r/ and /l/ → [r], [l], [ʎ], or doubling of following consonant, when word final /ado/ → ['ao] /ʎ/ → [ʝ] (yeísmo): cayó, calló → [kaˈjo] /t/ → [k] in diminutives: momentito → [momen'tiko] (also common in Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic) voseo (Zulia and some parts of Falcón and Trujillo)

Táchira, Mérida, and Trujillo

The articulation is more like highland Colombia.

    /s/, /l/, and /r/ when syllable-final are distinguished and clearly pronounced.