Question regarding American versus Continental Spanish

Hi
I do not speak Spanish but glancing at American Spanish I can follow it much more easily that Continental Spanish (if that is the correct word).

If I were to look at a parallel text of Spanish (American and Continental) and English, I can easily follow the American variety. The Continental Spanish is much wordier from what I can tell.

My main question is this though:
When South American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote their works in Spanish , do they try to emulate Continental Spanish or write in their own vernacular? I assume he wrote in his native Columbian dialect.

I look forward to your feedback.
davidmich

Huh? Grammar and orthographic rules are the same everywhere, they are standard in Spanish based on the Academies. Each Spanish-speaking country or region has its own Academia de la lengua españoa, and the members get together and agree on changes and what will the standard be.

What you may have noticed is difference in style, for example, in some literary movements/fields they tend to be wordier than others (post-modernism, I’m looking at you). I mostly read news reports in Spanish, and those are so standard that I can’t find difference between one region or another.

At the written level, the difference is mostly vocabulary, which, and this is important, in most cases it is** completely accepted and considered correct** for the region/country. But anyone from any Spanish-speaking country can read a book from another region with little difficulty other than maybe dictionary to get the slang (if not understood by context). Not unlike you do when you read a book in English written in another region or historical era.

And what exactly do you mean by emulate? Use their words? Why would a Colombian, Venezuelan, Mexican, Cuban, or Puertorrican use words that are not native/common to their region to write novels that are about their countries? They’ll write properly, but use the words common to them.

Again, just to repeat: Each Spanish-speaking country/region has its own correct Spanish variant (yes, it also has its slang and street vocabulary and what not). There is no reason for them to emulate any other Spanish variant because every single variant is nowadays accepted and correct and considered lengua culta. No reason why GGM has to emulate Spain’s Spanish anymore than he has to emulate Mexican Spanish.

If you go online websites will tell you that there isn’t much difference between the Spanish from Spain and that of the Americas. Based on my observations I don’t accept that.

I can only go on what I have observed and my direct dealings with South Americans and Spaniards. Stylistically I have seen the same content translated from English into Continental and Latin American Spanish (one version written by a Spaniard, another by an Ecuadorian). Stylistically they were substantially different. The Latin American version, much easier to read. It almost followed an English syntax. The translation from the Spaniard on the other hand was much more difficult to follow. Spaniards have told me there is a standard Spanish that apply worldwide. They told me the rules emanate from Spain. I can’t vouch for that. Was the Spaniard more educated that the Ecuadorian? Is that why the Spanish versions differed so much? I don’t know.

Perhaps what I saw were stylistic differences. But they were stark differences. Both translators I was referring to were university graduates. The Ecuadorian even told me that South American Spanish was closer to English syntax. But that is all I can say on the matter.

http://www.ldldproject.net/languages/spanish/spoken/syntax.html

The following example illustrates how one expression may have different meanings and emphasis simply by changing the word order.

Spanish English
Version one: La niña caminó hacia la oficina. The girl walked to the office.
Version two: Caminó la niña hacia la oficina. Walked the girl to the office.
Version three: Hacia la oficina la niña caminó. To the office the girl walked.

There isn’t much difference. The headquarter of the Academies is in Spain, but the rules are set by all the Academies. Perhaps the translation was different because the style was different, but the rules should be the same. Was one of them a professional translator and the other one wasn’t? Or the words the Ecuadorian used seem more familiar to you because that is what you learned? When it comes to style, perhaps you see a difference, but grammar, sentence structure, syntax, verbs, these are all standard. Yes, there is a standard Spanish, but that standard Spanish can have many acceptable variants in style in some cases, and I wonder if that is what you saw.

OK, so you’re talking about one translator using one versus the other version. They are stylistic differences. And I’ll admit, for a native speaker, they are not stark.

Going back to your original question. The writers write in the variant they are from, usually.

What I saw may have seen a combination of the use of different vocabulary and a difference in style. I have not learned any Spanish to speak of. The words used by the Ecuadorian seemed closer to English. The words used by the Spaniard were not. That is all I can tell you.

Yes, you likely saw a combination of different preferred vocabulary and difference in style.

And to repeat the answer to your main question, no, writers write in the variant they are most comfortable with. And again, proper Colombian (or Ecuadorian, Cuban, or Venezuelan) Spanish is as proper as proper Spanish from Spain. Emphasis on proper. There is no reason to emulate because they are all accepted variants.

Some examples from the Spaniard’s translation(Sorry I don’t have the Ecuadorian’s translation to hand:
Eachplayerhastofollowthesuitofthecard.
Cada jugador tiene que seguir el palo de la carta.
IfIthrowdowna2ofdiamonds,youmustthrowdowna2oradiamonds.
Si lanzo un dos de rombos, tienes que lanzar un dos o una carta de rombos.
Unlessofcourseyouwanttochangethesuit.
A menos que quieras cambiar el palo de la carta

All I can tell you is that the Ecuadorian’s translation was far easier to follow.

Yes, it was a combination of words. The syntax is fine, but I think the Ecuadorian translation may have used different words. I’m accustomed to calling the diamond suit not rombo, but diamante, for example.

It is not necessarily a case of “one was more educated than the other” but “both use different words to describe the same things”. Just like words change between British and American English.

Thanks Karl Grenze. You’ve been very helpful.
davidmich

OTOH, the English in the above examples is a bit . . . uh, … dense.