Spanish (also known as Castilian) is the most widely spoken of the Rom­ance languages, with an estimated 483 million native speakers in 2019, according to the Instituto Cervantes, and at least 75 million second-language speakers. It is an official language of 20 countries.

The main dialect groups of Spanish are:

  • Peninsular Spanish
    • Castilian Spanish
    • Andalusian Spanish
  • Mexican Spanish
  • Central American Spanish
  • Caribbean Spanish
  • Andean Spanish and Pacific Spanish
    • Colombian Spanish
    • Peruvian Spanish
    • Bolivian Spanish
  • Chilean Spanish
  • Rioplatense Spanish

Historically, and perhaps extremely marginally to this day, there was also Philippine Spanish.

There are a number of other schisms within the Spanish-speaking world that don’t align so neatly with these boundaries:

  • Voseo, tuteo, ustedeo
  • S-aspiration in Spanish (common in southern Spain, the Caribbean, the Cono Sur, and other parts of coastal South America)
  • Yeísmo and lleísmo (and variations in the pronunciation of the ⟨ll⟩ digraph, whether merged or not with ⟨y⟩)

I started learning Spanish when I started at university, and I persisted with it so long that I ended up making Spanish Studies my major (and did an honours year too!). I’ve continued to work at it, incrementally, in the years since then, although I have to admit I’ve done a lot more reading than writing, speaking or listening. By the CEFR scale, I would estimate my reading ability to be C1 level (I can read novels, and back during my honours year I read a looooot of academic papers in Spanish), my writing to be B2, but my speaking and listening to be B1. I find it a lot easier to chat to people whose accents don’t aspirate ⟨s⟩ than people whose accents do 😛 I also feel I have a much larger passive vocabulary than active, so (if I understand the accent) I can understand more than I can say, at least fluently/off the cuff.

Did you know? I’ve posted other content tagged ‘Spanish’! If you want to see what else I’ve written on this topic, you can do so here.