Spain and its Regional Languages

Table of Contents

The subject of this article is Spain and its regional languages.

Castilian Spanish is the official language of Spain.

But there are other important languages and people do actively speak these.

Respect for Spain and its regional languages

In this article I discuss variations of Spanish spoken in Spain.

I am writing this article with maximum respect for all of the languages and dialects that are spoken in Spain.

Although I do not have a political position myself, I am aware that regional cultural identity is of upmost importance to some people in Spain.

I neither agree or disagree.

As a translator my ethic is to respect the meaning and faithfully translate it.

My love and passion is Spain and all of its varied culture.

That passion is an important part of the reason why I work with the Spanish language.

Perhaps you might also enjoy our page on Spanish Translators, where I discuss the skills needed to be able to accurately translate the Spanish language.

Examples of regional languages in Spain

In the North-East where Spain joins with France the region was traditionally called the Basque Country and in Castilian Spanish el País Vasco.

But now it is known as Euskadi and the language spoken there is no longer referred to as vasco but as euskera.

Note that in all Spanish languages the place is written with a capital or upper- case letter as in Madrid.

Conversely the person or language from that place is written with a lower case or small letter as in madrileño.

If we travel along the northern coast going west the region neighbouring with Portugal is called Galicia.

Their language is galego, previously this was gallego.

Recently some people prefer to say Galica and galego, repectively.

Spain meets France at the mountain range called the Pyrenees or Pirineos.

Catalunya and its language

The other neighbouring region on the Mediterranean coast is Catalunya. 

Its language is catalá whereas in Castilian Spanish one would have traditionally said Cataluña and catalán.

Close to Catalunya are several other regions with their own dialects or languages.

Valencia is neighbour region and has valenciano as its official language which is a little similar to catalá.

Next to Valencia and going south along the Mediterranean coast is Alicante and its language is alicantino.

Las Islas Baleares or in English Balearic Islands comprise Palma de Mallorca and Menorca and their language is mallorquín.

The dialects of Asturias and Cantabria

Asturias is next to Galica and although they speak Castillian Spanish they also speak a long- standing traditional dialect called bable.

In Cantabria the ending uco or uca is very usual, for example, in the word casuca instead of casita (little house) and the informal pronoun tú is more usual than usted.

The Dialect in Murcia

The region of Murcia could be seen to lie between Alicante to its north and Andalucía to its south and the typical dialect of Murcia is panocho.

Perhaps very few people are still fluent in panocho but there are other linguistic characteristics that are common in all speakers throughout the region of Murcia.

For example, the diminutive ico is used instead of ito.

Thus, in castellano you would say pajarito (little bird) but in Murcia it is pajarico and even when not using the diminutive you would say bonito (pretty) in castellano but bonico in Murcia.

Andalusian dialect and characteristics

Andalucía is in the deep south and has a very specific pronunciation.

It is not easy to represent this in writing without using complex linguistic symbols but two typical pronunciation variations are known as seseo and ceceo.

This means that the c is pronounced differently to castellano.

For example, someone from Madrid might pronounce Andalucía as Andaluthia, that is to say the Spanish Castilian pronunciation of c is like th in English.

However, in Andalucía the c is pronounced like an s so Andalucía is pronounced Andalusía.

But there is another Andalusian variation where the s is pronounced like the Castilian c or th.

Hence the word for house would be pronounced something like catha or caza instead of casa.

Comparing Castilian and Andalusian

So, in castellano you could make up a little joke like this:

Se va de caza para cazar un conejo para traérselo a casa porque mañana se casa.

This means:

He is going hunting to hunt a rabbit to take home because tomorrow he is getting married.

But in the dialect of Andalucía this might be said as:

Ce va de casa pa casar un conejo pa traércelo a caza porque mañana ce caza.

Note that para is pronounced pa.

Similarly, the ends of words are often shortened.

For example, casado (married) becomes casao and cansado (tired) becomes cansao.

Spain, a country with a diverse richness in languages and culture

In conclusion Spain has great diversity and inclusivity of languages and culture.

My work as a translator is inspired by my passion for these Spanish qualities.

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