Guatemalan Spanish/Spanish dialect?

My housekeeper is from Guatemala. My Spanish is limited as is her English but we rub along mostly fine, with an assist from Google Translate when necessary.

She’s an intelligent woman, but I suspect without a lot of formal education. Her Spanish is to me (again, not much of a speaker) rather non-standard. “Gracias” is always rendered as “grasias,” and “voy” as “boy.” There are other examples that confound Google Translate which I could dig out if desired.

Is this her own spelling/usage, or is it typical of Guatemalan Spanish? Is it a sub-dialect of Guatemalan Spanish, or are the spelling/pronunciation changes I’m describing actually more widespread in Central America than just in Guatemala?

Thanks for any insight.

I’m not sure what difference you think there is in gracias and grasias. Gracias is pronounced with the soft c in all versions of Spanish I’ve heard. C’s are soft in Spanish in front of e’s and i’s.

Many dialects of Spanish pronounce b’s and v’s quite similarly. In fact the name of the letter v is “be chica” meaning “little b”.

Guatemalan Spanish is distinctly its own dialect, I assume because the native indio population vastly outnumbered any Spaniards who settled there. I had a crew of Guatemalans in doing some work in my yard and they spoke a very soft, slurred version of Spanish with some definitely odd pronunciations. My nephew, who attended a Spanish immersion elementary school and is pretty much bilingual as a result says he can follow Guatemalan Spanish (he travelled there on a buying trip for the coffee roaster he worked for) but has to listen very carefully to make sure he’s understanding what’s being said, but never has any problem with Mexicans or Spaniards (aside from the lisp, but I think that weirds out everyone who isnt from Europe).

In all Spanish dialects other than sometimes Argentinian, “v” is pronounced exactly the same way as “b”. There was a pronunciation shift and V (which in Spain we call “uve” pronounced “ube”) is now a leftover.

As for pronouncing gracias as grasias, that’s sort of a “standard variant” of Spanish, we call it seseo and it’s how most current speakers speak (big source of spelling troubles, sadly). Here, more than you ever wanted to learn about seseo :slight_smile:

SmartAleq, you just got given homework: read all those threads. Every single post. Then write 1000000 times “I will not refer to standard Spanish pronounciation as a lisp.”

Thank you for the responses. I wasn’t clear in my initial post–I was referring to our TEXT communications, where boy=voy and grasias=gracias. Obviously I understand the spoken word gracias (however mentally spelt) when she says it, and if I’m working my way through a verbal conversation I might get from context what she meant by “boy.”

However Nava if I understand you correctly, and sorry to be plodding about this, but in pretty much all Spanish variants “v” is pronounced as the English “b”? EG, if I say “es la verdad” I ought to pronounce it “berdad”?

Sorry, mang, but to a Left Coast American used to Mexican Spanglish–that’s a lisp! It may be correct, but it ain’t from around here. :wink:

Yep. And to make things more fun, that final -d tends to get lost when talking quickly, so it would easily be berdá.

A lisp is an inability. Someone with a lisp can’t pronounce the /s/. For example, this Mexican lady misses her Ss sometimes (beso becomes /beθo/). Someone who speaks standard Spanish can pronounce the /s/ just fine - and also another foneme /θ/ which in seseo dialects is totally or partially lost, not due to an inability (some of those seseo speakers turn foreign /s/ into /θ/) but in the same way as English has rhotic and non-rhotic variants. But if you want to go on giving a great impression of someone who can’t understand when his or her comprehension of another culture has gone from “looking stupid” to “it’s my hole and I’ll keep digging”, go ahead.

Also I’m not sure what is mang supposed to mean. If it’s man, you’re off by a whole chromosome.

Thanks Nava.

“mang” is something I’ve heard in LA and in NYC from native Spanish speakers for the English word “man”–not really a hard G but kind of a swallowed stop. I couldn’t tell you what the spectrum of dialects is except that generally in NYC it’s Puerto Rican/Dominican/Mexican and in LA it’s Mexican/diverse Central Americans.

Also FWIW, I have a relative from NE Italy (that’s most of my heritage) who also pronounces English words ending with N with a slight “g.” The first time I spoke with her as an adult I thought, “she sounds Puerto Rican.”

We have a few Guatemalans where I work and the Mexicans and Americans who speak Spanish do not notice anything different, I know because the building hired two cleaners from El Salvador, and all of our Spanish speakers say they are very difficult to understand. I am always fascinated at how different dialects of the same language can be.

Intially, and after m or n, b/v are pronounced much as English “b.” In other situations it is not quite the same; to my ears it is somewhat intermediate between English b and v (but b and v are still pronounced the same).

It sounds like a lisp only if you are not paying attention. Most Spanish dialects (mostly from Spain) that recognize a distinction only pronounce soft c and z as “th.” Unlike a lisp, s is still pronounced as “s.”

Perhaps I’m not making myself clear–I’m from the left side of the US and the only time I hear Spaniards speaking with that distinctive Castilian pronunciation is on TV or in a movie and I’m sorry, but it sounds weird to my ear considering the types of Spanish dialects I’m used to hearing, which are all Latin American/Caribbean. I’m also taking the piss a bit, in case THAT was unclear. Y’all need to loosen your drawers a bit–I mean, I’m not getting shirty that Europeans and Central Americans don’t know how LA Hispanics talk now, am I? Because “mang” is basically the Spanglish version of “dude,” which is gender neutral. And “Barthelona” and “Ibitha” are never going to stop sounding weird to my ears.

This is GQ. You didn’t just post that it was a lisp, you reasserted it when you were corrected. Like Nava said, when you’re in a hole, it’s best to stop digging. If you’re going to be so defensive about being corrected, be more careful about what you post, and certainly don’t keep reiterating mistakes after people have provided the correct information.

So all these years ordering chile verde (“chee-lay vair-day”) I should be ordering “chee-lay bair-day”:smack:? Ignorance fought. Now go ahead and destroy my pronunciation of “chile”.

Oh - you meant WRITING Spanish incorrectly! Yes, you’ve got it – those without much formal education sometimes write “b” for “v” and vice versa, and “s” for (soft) “c” and vice versa. These mistakes are a little more common in Spanish than in English, BECAUSE Spanish speakers are used to “one sound=one letter” for everything EXCEPT these instances – whereas English speakers are used to “any sound=who the heck knows which letter, you just gotta learn it case by case!”.

The Spanish “b/v” sound is typically between a typical English “b” and a typical English “v,” in terms of lip location. (ETA: Colibri beat me to it.)

Mrs Iggy is Colombian and makes these same sorts of b/v misspellings all the time. I often need to think of the phonetics of what she writes to understand correctly.

But her Colombian paisa Spanish is very understandable. Sure the b and v letters make identical sounds, but as Nava mentioned that is pretty much standard Spanish enunciation.

An couple of videos with Spanish-speaking Americans talking about how the various accents of Latin America sound to them.

Spanish speakers shouldn’t have a problem understanding this, since they don’t distinguish between the sounds.

I’m interested in hearing from Nava or other native Spanish speakers as to how an English speaker pronouncing “v” in Spanish like English “v” is perceived. Is this something that’s viewed as part of an English accent in Spanish, or do Spanish speakers even notice the difference?

That second one is pretty hilarious.

As mentioned, Colombia alone has several different accents. In the coastal areas they speak Caribbean-type Spanish (which also includes Panamanian, Dominican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican), which is very fast and drops half the letters, while in the highlands they speak a highland type of Spanish which to my ear is much easier to understand. In general, I find highland Spanish as in Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru the easiest to understand. Argentinian might be the most distinctive American accent on several counts.

I’m a dialect freak and I usually barely notice it. You have several situations:

  • Anglo who’s learned something he believes to be Spanish and which may actually be American English. By the time he’s finished RRRRRRRRRRRolling the “soft” Rs, butchering every vowel, doing unnameable things to the dipthongs and elongating that -owww into which he turns any final -o, lots of people have gone beyond “can I strangle him on his own RRRRR now” and onto “sir, I know what you mean, please finish already so I can answer”. Vs that sound almost like F can be noticeable but are minor compared with anything else that’s “wrong”.

  • Anglo who’s got Spanish as a second language and pronounces the Vs as if they were English. OK, so his Vs sound almost like Fs. We may occasionally correct him si hay confianza (if we trust each other enough), same as we’d correct a native speaker who’s making a repeated mistake or commiting dictionary rape. No big deal. The Rs are also likely to always be pronounced like the English R (I mean the English-R which is pronounced, not the English-R which is a modification of the previous vowel), again no big deal; the R thing will usually not get pointed out because we’re conscious ours can be a bitch for foreigners, but the V may because we know foreigners can usually pronounce B.

  • Person who learned English before he learned Spanish. Yeah, sometimes he pronounces funny. Your mother pronounces funny too, as does mine. Big fucking deal.