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Thursday, October 6, 2011 (read 2300 times)
The Elusive Andalusian Accentby Chloe Bustin
At the age of 14, I embarked on my first trip to Spain. Having only studied Spanish for a matter of months, and desperate to escape the dreariness of England, I decided the perfect destination to fully immerse myself in the Spanish language and its vibrant culture, was the southernmost region, Andalusia.
Guide books stated that Andalusia was known for its colorful culture from flamenco and bullfighting to the stunning medieval Islamic architecture. I became captivated by the enthralling image that was so vividly depicted, where I’d be surrounded by fascinating sights, and everyone around would speak in the meticulously annunciated, highly anglicized Castilian that I was so accustomed to.
My first stop was Seville. Home to the mesmerizing Alcazar and amazing Plaza de España, it definitely did not disappoint on the cultural front, and I would undoubtedly recommend it to anyone considering a visit. I was, however, slightly bewildered when faced with the seemingly important task of communication. When asking the elderly lady I was living with, what time would be best to return for lunch, responses such as “a la do” left me utterly confused.
My initial response was one of panic, concerned that she wasn´t speaking Spanish, but a rare Andalusian language. But, never did it cross my mind before I left that the Andalusians would speak any differently to my very English, Spanish teacher.
It turns out, however, that Andalusian Spanish has some very distinct traits. While Castilian Spanish uses what is called ‘distinción’ where the ‘s’ sounds and ‘z’ sounds are differentiated, Andalusians tend not to, and instead words such as ‘casa’ and ‘caza’ ending up sounding identical. Other tendencies include the softening or dropping of consonants, such as ‘comprado’ becoming ‘compra’o’; or omitting the final ‘s’ from words, which confusing when taking plurals into account, or in my case establishing times.
The unique accent was definitely a shock to begin with. However, I was sadly only in Seville for 2 days, as an introduction to Andalusia, before heading off to Granada to do a 2 week course at don Quijote Spanish School. Perhaps, in hindsight, starting in Granada would have been a better idea, my Spanish improved more in those 2 weeks than I ever expected. My experience in Andalusia only served to ignite my enthusiasm for Spanish, and now 3 years into a Spanish degree, and living in Salamanca- where the accent is perhaps a little easier to decipher- the sheer panic in Seville seems a distant memory. If you want to explore Andalusia, whether it’s in Seville, Granada or Cadiz, or want to improve your Spanish by taking a Spanish course, then I would wholeheartedly recommend the experience to anyone, just be prepared for the accent!
Keywords: spain, spanish language, andalusia, andalusian accent, andalusian spanish, castilian, spanish culture, seville, granada, spanish course, don quijote spanish school