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S-aspiration in Spanish

Many dialects of Spanish aspirate or “debuccalise” the phoneme /s/. In some cases this means realising the phoneme as /h/, but in other cases it means not pronouncing the phoneme at all. For me (a second-language learner of Spanish), this is the single most relevant feature for determining whether I can understand someone’s accent or not 😢

Dialects where S-aspiration is common:

  • Andalusian Spanish
  • Caribbean Spanish
  • Rioplatense Spanish
  • Chilean Spanish
  • Central American Spanish (except for Costa Rica)
  • coastal speech in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
  • eastern and southern Bolivian

Dialects where S-aspiration is uncommon or absent:

  • Castilian Spanish
  • Mexican Spanish (except some coastal areas)
  • Andean Spanish