Spain and its Regional Languages

Although Spanish is the official language of Spain there are other important languages that are used in the Iberian Peninsula.

In the North-East where Spain joins with France the region was traditionally called the Basque Country and in Castillian 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 but 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 that sits on top of Portugal is called Galicia and the language is galego, previously this was gallego.

Spain is joined to France by the mountain range called the Pyrenees or Pirineos and the other adjoining region is Catalunya on the Mediterranean coast and its language is catalá whereas in Castillian 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.

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 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 not many people are fluent in panocho any more 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.

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 Castillian pronunciation of c is like th in English but in Andalucía the c is pronounced like an s so Andalucía is pronounced Andalusía.

But there is another andaluz variation where the s is pronounced like the Castillian c or th. Hence the word for house would be pronounced something like catha or caza instead of casa.

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.

Similarily the ends of words are often shortened.

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

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