How different is Spanish in Colombia from that spoken in Spain?

by | Mar 9, 2017 | English, Regional Linguistic Differences

Colombia – the homeland of Sofia Vergara and Shakira, with a coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea is a country in both South and Central America. Named after Cristopher Columbus, Colombia has around 45 million inhabitants and Bogota as its capital.

In 1821 the Republic of Colombia became independent from Spain with borders a lot bigger than today’s Colombia. These borders stabilized in 1922.

However, the country has been blighted by internal strife, firstly by the conflict between the Liberal and Conservative parties and more recently by the conflict between government forces, left-wing guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitaries.

The diversity of languages caused by the diversity of cultures

Colombia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world and this fact also explains the variety of spoken languages and regional dialects.

Among the languages spoken in Colombia are Vlax Romani (dialect of the gipsy ethicity) which is spoken by around 75,000 people; Islander Creole English in Providencia and San Andres and Palenquero (mix of Spanish and Creole) which is used in San Basilio de Palenque.

The beautiful Colombian island of San Andrés (Photo credit: Karl-Rafael Kubisch)

Spanish is the official language in Colombia. What is normally referred to as ‘Colombian Spanish’ is just one of the many regaional varieties and is in fact ‘Bogota Spanish’ which is also considered the country’s most elegant. It has an almost musical intonation and clear pronunciation, which is why considered by many to be the most beautiful form of Spanish in South America.

The most significant differences between European and Columbian Spanish

1. All Columbian dialects have one feature in common – the seseo or merging of /θ/ with /s/. So, for example, in Colombia cazar (“to hunt”) and casar (“to marry”) are homophones. Same goes to abrazar (“to hug”) and abrasar (“to roast”);

2. As in most Latin American dialects, also, Colombian Spanish has yeísmo (or merging of /LL/ into /J/). So they pronounce ll in the word Sevilla as same as y in the word yate (“yacht”);

3. A lot of people use usted (the second-person singular pronoun), which is considered too formal for European Spanish, instead of vos (the second-person plural pronoun) or tu (the second-person singular pronoun) while talking to family members, friends etc.;

4. Colombians like to use diminutive, pleasant forms of the words, as chocolatito (“chocolate”), gatito (“little kitty”), ay mi amorcito (“my sweetheart”), tomaste el chocolatito? (“did you take a chocolate?”).

Have you learnt or do you speak Colombian Spanish?  If so, what regional dialect exactly?  Write me your thoughts and experiences with these 2 different forms of the Spanish language in the comments section below. I read all comments I receive. 😀

¡En español aquí!

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