Univision is headquartered in New York, where the majority of the Spanish-speaking population is of Puerto Rican descent. Similarly, it has production facilities in the Miami area, where Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominicans make up the majority of the Spanish-speakers.
So when watching Univision, which version of Spanish is most-used by the actors, announcers, newscasters, and so on? Is there a generic form of Spanish in the same way that the General American accent is the sort-of “default” accent in the majority of spoken American English in the media?
I’m not the best person to answer this, but nobody else has.
I took some Spanish in high school and college. I never got very fluent, and I’ve forgotten a lot; nevertheless, I do remember some things.
The over-all “shape” of Spanish is pretty standard among Latin American countries; there’s more of a difference between Latin America and Spain. Nevertheless, each country has some unique factors. There are generally a few words that vary from country to country. Also, once you get fluent enough, you can sometimes tell what country a native speaker is from just from the accent. I managed a little of that at my best.
I’ve never watched Univision, but based on what you’ve said about the staff, I can tell you that it would be a little different from the typical Spanish taught to students here in the US, which is based on a mixture of Mexican Spanish and Castilian (Spanish) Spanish.
Univision has a lot of different TV shows from different parts of the world, and so naturally, most of those accents are from wherever the TV show was produced. Although, that’s murky. A lot of Mexican productions film in Colombia, for example, so you have a mixing of accents. And Mexico is kind of a melting pot for other Latin Americans. And you have things from Brazil dubbed into Spanish in Mexico or in the United States.
Domestic production has American actors, but also actors from all over Latin America.
Thus you can’t really say that they have a standard accent.
I once had a supervisor who came from Colombia, and had the hardest time following the conversation in Miami, where they speak the Cuban dialect.
Me, I’m currently on a Spanish-upgrade kick. Although I interact with people from DR and Mexico all the time, my neighborhood (both locally with in NYC and geographically within the US) has influenced me toward all things Puerto Rican, including dialect and phonetics.
Any suggestions for telenovelas or regular content from the island? I’ve been scouring YouTube as well, and hear and there have hit on so,e goodies.
It’s been ages since I last caught anything from Univision other than short clips, but I’ve seen other Latin American programs with international castings and the rules seemed to be along the lines of “newscasters, talk show hosts and cultured characters speak in their accent and avoid dialectal expressions; one of the pointers that a character is of a low social class and not the protagonist* is that they use a lot of dialectal expressions.” So, basically the same thing that happens in work teams on both sides of the Atlantic: people generally know which of the words and expressions they use are more local and less, and if you’re dealing with someone from Far Away you avoid those. But you still have your accent, even if you may soften it somewhat; part of this is simply picking the more-standard expressions, word endings, etc. For example, which ending you use for your diminutives is a dialectal characteristic: people who know their own ending to be quite local will tend to use the more-spread versions when speaking to people from Away.
- the protagonist will speak “clearly” (where that is defined as “in a way that’s understandable by anybody fluent in Spanish”) no matter what social class they are. After all, you want people to watch…
Hi Nava–I’ve been thinking about you as I devour my new advanced grammar and idiom and dialect books, as I drop my s’s and d’s and swap r and l’s and hush my rr’s to a state of utter classlessness.
If only you could teleport to NYC…
ETA: Probably should’ve been a PM…
He must have been from the highlands. The Spanish spoken along the coast is more similar to that of the Caribbean Islands (Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic) and Panama.
I find that the dialect spoken here in Panama can be much harder to understand than others - very rapid, with a lot of letters dropped. Highland dialects in both Central and South America tend to be easier to understand because they are slower and more clearly enunciated.
Argentinians also have a quite distinct accent.
For many years the most popular show on Univision was Sabado Gigante, hosted by Mario “Don Francisco” Kreutzberger, who was from Chile.
How does that last name get rendered in spoken Spanish?
Kind of like Mexican coastal Spanish (and given Panama’s narrow breadth, is it all “coastal”?). I can kind of emulate it in not-quite-mocking fashion, but it’s hard to type an example.
That’s why everybody calls him “Don Francisco.”
I think the accent is most extreme in Panama City, less so as you get into the “interior” (as all the rest of Panama is called, even the coastal areas).
A long time ago I realized, in learning to speak with rhythm and intonation a new foreign language, how the idea of “mocking”/imitating the language is extremely helpful; it’s just hard not to feel like a shit doing it, even alone in your room. It works best using mostly gibberish words, but slathering on any tasty new consonants and vowel sounds that come to mind, as the whole rhythm of “a” sentence followed non-stop with another “sentence.”
Most of us have in our ear and memory the satirical (or real) version of the hyperbolic Spaniard or Italian, the caressing insinuating Frenchman, the insistent German, the shrugging up-and-down tones of the questioning Jew speaking Yiddish (perhaps not so much that last one, but your basic Jewish intonation English is in there, and has a weird presence in modern Hebrew).
As to discrete accents within those language, again, mockery can be the easiest engine of imitation.