Castilian Spanish

Castilian Spanish

Castilian Spanish ( _es. español septentrional) is a term related to the Spanish language, but whose exact meaning can vary even in that language. In English "Castilian Spanish" usually refers to the variety of Spanish spoken in north and central Spain or as the language standard for radio and TV speakers. [cite book |title=Random House Unabridged Dictionary |year=2006 |publisher= Random House Inc. ] [cite book |title=The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language |year=2006 |edition=4th |publisher= Houghton Mifflin Company ] [cite book |title=Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary |year=1998 |publisher= MICRA, Inc. ] [cite web |url= |title=Encarta World English Dictionary |accessdate=2008-08-05 |year=2007|publisher=Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. ] The region where this variety of Spanish is spoken corresponds more or less to the Castilian historical region.

The Spanish language term "castellano" (Castilian) may refer to the Spanish language as a whole, to the dialects spoken in central and northern Spain or to the Middle Ages language which was a predecessor to modern Spanish.

The purpose of this article is to describe the features of the Spanish language spoken in Central and Northern Spain, especially in the way it contrasts with the Spanish varieties in the Americas.


The term Castilian Spanish can be used in English for the specific dialects of Spanish spoken in north and central Spain. Sometimes it is more loosely used to denote the Spanish spoken in all of Spain as compared to Spanish spoken in Latin America; however, there are several different dialects of Spanish as well as other official languages in Spain.

For Spanish speakers in academic contexts, "castellano" refers to some dialects of the Spanish language as spoken in the historical region of Castile, a former Kingdom in what is now Spain. In general usage, however, "castellano" can refer to the language as a whole, as a synonym of "español" (Spanish).

Accent particularities

The Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy or RAE) defines Castilian Spanish as a standard language, and many speakers accept RAE as the governing body of the language.

However, the sheer population of Mexico and its nearness to the United States gives Mexican Spanish significant weight within the United States. Furthermore, some traits of the Spanish spoken in Spain are exclusive to that country, and for this reason, in the United States, courses of Spanish as a second language often neglect them. While there is nothing comparable to American and British English spelling differences, grammar and to a lesser extent pronunciation can vary sometimes.

The most striking difference between dialects in Central and Northern Spain and Latin American Spanish is the pronunciation of the letter "z", and of "c" before front vowels "e" or "i", as a voiceless dental fricative /θ/, English "th" in "th"ing. Thus, in most variations of Spanish from Spain, "cinco" (five) sounds like English “theenk-o” as opposed to “seengk-o” in American Spanish. Additionally, all New World dialects drop the non-formal "vosotros" verb form for the second person plural, while retaining "ustedes", the formal "you"-plural.

Some other minor differences are:
* The widespread use of "le" instead "la" and "lo" as direct object, especially referring to men.
* In the past, the sounds for "y" and "ll" were phonologically different in many parts of Spain, compared with only a few parts of Latin America, but that difference is now disappearing in Spain.
* The formal use of the second person "usted" (equivalent to German "Sie" or French "vous") is becoming less common compared to the non formal "tú" (equivalent to German "du" or French "tu").
* The classical Spanish diphthongization of latin "o" is more common than in Latin America: "fuertísimo" instead "fortísimo".


The meaning of certain words may differ greatly between both dialects of the language: "Carro" refers to Car in some American dialects, but to Cart in Spain. Sometimes there also appear gender differences: "El PC" ("personal computer") in Castilian Spanish, "La PC" in American Spanish, due to the widespread use of the galicism "ordenador" (from l'ordinateur in French) for computer in Castilian Spanish, which is masculine, instead of the American preferred "computadora", that is feminine, from the English word "computer". Also, speakers of the second dialect tend to use words and polite set expressions that, though recognized by the RAE, aren't widely used nowadays (some of them even deemed as Anachronism) by speakers of Castilian Spanish. For example, "enojarse" and "enfadarse" are verbs with the same meaning (to anger), being "enojarse" much more used in the Americas than in Spain, and "enfadarse" more in Spain than in the Americas.

1many of the vocabulary examples are used throughout Spain and not necessarily specific to just Castilian Spanish
2Latin American Spanish consists of several varieties spoken throughout the Americas. The examples may not represent all the dialect but are meant to show constrast

Inside Spain, there are many regional variations of Spanish, which can be divided roughly into four major dialectal areas:
* Northern Spanish (northern coast, Ebro and Duero valleys...). This dialect is sometimes called "Castilian Spanish", but in fact it excludes quite a large area in the historical region of Castile and includes areas not in it.
* Transitional area between North and South (Extremadura, Murcia, Madrid, La Mancha...).
* Andalusian Spanish
* Canarian Spanish


*cite web
title =
url =
author = WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University.
accessdate = 2008-04-21

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