Spanish Language in Mexico;5 Facts You Must Know

The difference between Mexican Spanish and that spoken in Spain follows the evolution of the English language between England and the United States. Spanish arrived in America as the language of the Spanish conquistadors when Spain imposed its crown in the New World, a presence which in the case of Mexico has continued for more than 300 years. It should also be noted that the Spanish spoken today in Mexico is not a homogeneous language since indigenous influences have had a strong impact and have transformed it to a great extent. For example, the Spanish spoken in the Yucatan peninsula is different in pronunciation and vocabulary thanks to the influence of the Mayan language.

Other differences that can be found within the country can be seen along the border with Guatemala where there is the voseo (the use of vos instead of tu ) influenced by the Spanish of Central America. Nowadays Mexican Spanish is also the most widespread and accepted Spanish dialect in the United States , except for some areas where Cuban, Dominican or Puerto Rican predominates.

Mexican Spanish is characterized by its typically “singing” pattern , a trait derived from the influence of the Mayan, Náhuatl and Zapotec languages. This means that intonation plays a very important role in spoken communication, along with the prolongation of vowel sounds and the strengthening of consonant sounds. In the Mexican dialect are also used sounds that in Castilian are not very common, such as African consonates (for example the sounds represented by tl / y / tz) that we can find in words such as chipotle or quetzal. There is also the presence of fricative consonants ([∫] and [x]) used mainly in terms of indigenous origin but which we can also find in Castilian words, such as Xavier ([∫]) and México ([x]).

The second person of the plural pronoun (informal language) vosotros is not used in Mexico where instead the pronoun ustedes is used only (both in formal and informal language). Another interesting difference between Mexican and Castilian Spanish is the generalized use of the diminutive , even when it is not used to indicate some physical peculiarity, which is obtained by replacing the final vowel of some words with –ito or –ita (for example : papa / papito; mama / mamita).

The diminutive is also formed by adding cito / a or ecito / a at the end of the words depending on how they are constructed. Other forms of diminutive that we can meet are -illo / a, -ico / a, -ucho / a, -ín / ina, -uelo / a, -ete / a, -uco / a. But care must be taken to use the latter diminutives since some of them may have a derogatory connotation.

Although the diminutives are also used in Castilian Spanish, their use is wider in the Mexican context – in all social classes – and generally implies affection.

Another feature that differentiates the Mexican form of Spanish from Castilian is the use of por instead of during to indicate the duration of a period of time. In Mexico you are more likely to hear something like “Hay problemas when a politician goes to the prison for death ” (there are problems when a politician goes to prison for ten years for stealing, ndt ) while in Spain he will be told ” during diezanos “. There are also more complex grammatical differences, but what the listener will notice immediately is the difference in vocabulary, which is probably the difference that captures the most attention. Some typically Mexican words are güey(type) Guero (person Caucasian) pinche (kitchen boy or a much more vulgar epithet) popote (straw) chavo (boy).

Another notable difference is the ‘ slowest evolution of words in Mexican Spanish that you can clearly see in the next couple of terms anteojos / gafas (glasses, ndt ) tank / coche (car, ndt ), boleto / billete (ticket, ndt ) alberca / pool (pool, ndt ) and Mande? / Digame? (I help you? Ndt ). In all these couples the first word is the most archaic and is the one used in Mexico while in Spain it is preferred to use the second. There are also expressions that are used in Mexico and that are no longer used in Spain likese me hace ( me parece or creo ) or Que tanto …? ( Cuanto …?). The origin of these archaisms is not entirely clear and many studies have been carried out on the reason for their existence. There are theories that are based on the idea that change occurs faster from the center outward (Spain to America) than in the periphery. Another hypothesis is that the Spaniard who arrived in America was that of Andalusia or the Canaries and that from that moment onwards while the latter evolved together with the rest of the Castilian, the Spaniard of Mexicoit has retained those old features. Whatever the reason for this particularity, it is a very interesting difference for Spanish speakers.

Those who listen to Mexican Spanish will notice an accent very similar to that of Spanish spoken in the Spanish Canary Islands , but with a peculiarly Mexican vocabulary and grammatical structures. This linguistic variant of Spanish is the one we find all over Mexico and is the most widespread in the United States, for a total of 104 million people in Mexico and a good part of the 35 million Spanish-speaking individuals in the States.

by Abdullah Sam
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