Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flavors of Latin America: Tequila, Ron, or Pisco?

Each year, we commemorate the National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors speak the same language with different accents and came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Spanish is the national language of 19 countries and Puerto Rico. Each one has it own standard dialect flavor.

The most common Spanish dialect taught in the U.S. is standard Latin American. It is sometimes called "Highland" Americans’ Spanish since it is generally spoken in the mountainous areas of Latin America. (Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Bolivia)

This dialect is noted for its pronunciation of each letter and its strong "r" sounds. This Spanish was spoken in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was brought to the Americas by the early colonists.

The second major type of Spanish is spoken in the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Colombian Caribbean and some areas of Nicaragua), and in some cases in southern Spain. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the accent in Seville, Cádiz, and other cities in Andalusia, in Southern Spain, began to change. Speakers began to drop the final "s" on words. The settlers and traders of southern Spain took this dialect with them to the Caribbean and other coastal areas.

The third type of Spanish is in Central American spoken in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. In the South American Pacific comprise Chile, Ecuador and Paraguay.

A fourth type of Spanish has developed in Argentina and Uruguay. It is characterized by some out-of-date grammar, and a vocabulary and pronunciation heavily influenced by Italians who settled the area in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Generally in the Spanish world "tú" is the singular way of saying "you." In Argentina, however, "vos" is used instead. It is accompanied by a modified old Spanish verb form. It is as if part of the English-speaking world still used "thee" and "thou" in everyday speech.

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