¿Parece el acento andaluz "un chiste"? Does the Andalusian accent sound like "a joke"?

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This sounds rather weird coming from a Spanish native and seems to be an attack on the language itself. But this was said yesterday by a parliament member about another minister who is from Andalusia. She lessened her for speaking in andaluz.

Montserrat Nebrera, por haber criticado el acento andaluz "que parece un chiste" de la ministra de Fomento, Magdalena Álvarez.

I am bringing this up as I was asked by a friend on this forum the other day if our friend Lazarus , who is from Andalusia, spoke with an accent and which were the characteristics of this accent. I told him that certain letters were pronounced differently and that some endings were sort of "cut off". He was surprised that a scholar like Lazarus should "talk that way", thinking he should have a "good accent" like the Castilian.

This is widely misunderstood. In Spain we have lots of accents and all of them are equal in "quality". I understand that this does not occur in English. In Britain at least People are judged by their accents and only well educated people have a "good" accent.

Any thoughts on this topic?

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updated FEB 6, 2009
posted by 00494d19

15 Answers

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The cause for snobbery begins here: Standard English (for example) is what is taught in schools, both nationally and internationally. It follows that anyone who speaks regional English either didn't bother to attend or opted not to pay attention, and is therefore judged by snobs to be an idiot. Furthermore, just as one would expect someone who speaks standard English, the national language of government, education, and commerce as spoken by national media figures to have national concerns, one would also expect someone with international concerns to speak multiple languages. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, it is the assumption of snobs that a speaker limited to regional English is limited to parochial ideas and concerns.

The case for snobbery falls down insofar as it fails to appreciate the full spectrum of pronunciation and vocabulary of a living, growing language.

That said, as Henry Higgins of "My Fair Lady" would agree, it is lamentable to witness the inability of native speakers to know the standard forms of their own languages. My fellow estadounidenses are among the worst. We have a broad range of regional accents. I lived for three years in Germany, and spoke fluent German--I noticed that the Germans have the same richness in variety of local accents and dialects. But here is the difference: when I expressed to, for example, a Bavarian that I was having trouble understanding him, he was able to drop his accent like a cloak and commence speaking in the perfect standard German of a radio announcer. Most Americans are unable to do this.

There's an old joke about Americans, by the way: What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What about someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual. And what do you call someone who only speaks one language? An American.

updated FEB 6, 2009
posted by Jaimito-Angulo
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Dropping the S sound, as in "Ehpaña" is common in Cuban Spanish as well. For a great movie in Cuban Spanish, see "Viva Cuba."

updated FEB 6, 2009
posted by Jaimito-Angulo
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It's similar to what Lazarus said, but a bit different.
There are three general types of accents, ceceo, seseo, and distinction.
"Ceceo" is the type of spanish that uses the spanish "z", which, as he said is like the "th" in "thin". This sound is used for "z", "s", "ci", and "ce". This is spoken in the southern part of Andalusia, in provinces like Huelva, Sevilla (minus the capital sevilla), Cadiz, Malaga, and Granada.
"Seseo" is the type of spanish that uses s's. For the "z", "s", "ci", and "ce" they are all pronounced like the normal s. Seseo is used in the city of Sevilla and the north of the province Sevilla, the city of Almeria, and Cordoba.
"Distinction" uses both s and z. For the "s", it's pronounced as an s. And for the "z", "ci", and "ce", it's pronounced as the spanish "z". This is used in the north of Huelva, Cordoba, Jaen, and parts of Granada and Almeria. This is also used in every capital city, but only has a very small population of speakers in the capital cities of Sevilla and Almeria.

updated FEB 6, 2009
posted by elle3
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A classic example of the aspiriated 's' sound is 'mas o menos', commonly pronounced 'mahomeno' in Adalusia.

I learned spanish in Madrid, but my wife's family is from Córdoba. There is a clear difference noted, but I can still understand both. I actually think the Andalusian accent is cute, especially when coming from a pretty Andalusian girl wink.

I would equate the Andalusian accent to the U.S. southern accent - different and not considered as refined as the standard Castillian accent.

In a nutshell, I think the Castillian accent spoken by Madrileños is a harder more aggressive way of speaking. Where the Andalusian style is softer, more down home.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by Mark-W
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No, the H in "Ehpaña" sounds close to the English H, clearly aspirated.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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Ok. I wasn't aware that I was implying the two where from different countries. I'm curious, the H in "Ehpaña" is it pronounced anything like the "th" sound in "that or the"'

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by ChuckJR
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ChuckJR said:

I'm very interested in hearing the differences between the native Spanish accent and an Andalusia accent.

Native Spanish accent? Both the Castillian and the Andalusian accents are natives from Spain. One is from the north of Spain, and the other from the south of Spain.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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I'm very interested in hearing the differences between the native Spanish accent and an Andalusia accent. I would suppose it would be a very subtle difference to my ear having no real connection with the differences between the two. But, public officials I believe are meant to embrace differences in their cultures rather than attack them. Then I suppose anything of effect depends on the people's reaction to the parliament member's criticism of the prime minister. It doesn't have to be a threat to oust the parliment member from office. One could make an example of the public official's attitude.

And, It doesn't necessarily follow that an accent shows lack of intelligence. Usually it's whether a person is able to pronunciate and enunciate words properly that gives away their ability to use a language well. A person can have a southern accent and still speak intelligently. Of course in spanish if I say "aqui" with an english accent then I may sound generic or not serious about getting the right inflection on the word.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by ChuckJR
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LadyDi said:

I must admit, I'm totally unfamiliar with the Andalusian accent, but how bad could it be? Would the 'average' Spanish speaker be able to understand it?

The Andalusian accent is characterized by several features, but not all of them can be found in all parts of Andalusia, and they vary from speaker to speaker. Some books have analysed the differences from region to region, but it is too much detail for a post here.

The famous "seseo" (pronounce the z in "zapato" like the English "thin") is typical from Andalusia, and the fact the ships left to America for two centuries from Sevilla (in Andalusia) is the accepted explanation why everyone in America uses "seseo". Not everyone has this "seseo" in Andalusia. For example, I never use it, not even spontaneously.

Some people -but this is less frequent- do the opposite: pronounce some "s" as if they were Castillian "z", saying, for example, "sol" as "zol". Sometimes, this "ceceo" is mixed with "seseo" in a rather unpredictable manner.

Most past participles, and many words with similar endings, omit the "d", so instead of "cerrado", we'd say "cerrao".

The final "s" (and other "s") is not pronounced, and instead is replaced by a particular type of aspirated "h", which is -interestingly- hard to imitate for anyone who is not from Andalusia. We pronounce "niños" as "niñoh", and "España" as "Ehpaña", with the kind of "h" that characterizes us.

Words tend to be pronounced faster and when several vowels are consecutive, they are fused into simpler and less definite sequences. Sentences like "Me importa un pimiento" would sound like "Min portaun pimiento".

An extreme example (I don't speak this bad) could be:

Me vian ca'n selmo. (Me voy a casa de Anselmo)

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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So, this might explain why I was unable to understad a word that begun with the letter F, I thought the characters in a Spanish movie with Spanish actors,were saying pollár, to make it worse the subtitles in Spanish sometimes translated the word begining with F as tirar.The word with the letter F describes an amorous act.The name of the movie is Los Días de Fútbol. It is a great comedy.

Here in the US, there are a lot of diferent accents,(not counting the people from different countries) one can almost tell what country a person is from by his accent )New Yorkers have their Brokling accent, New Englanders have theirs and of course there is the southern accents.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by 00769608
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I must admit, I'm totally unfamiliar with the Andalusian accent, but how bad could it be? Would the 'average' Spanish speaker be able to understand it'

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by LadyDi
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That's amazing. Most elected officials don't let themselves say things such outrageous things when they know they can be heard.

Heidita said:

This is an outrageous case though. member of parliament calling another member of parliament's accent "a joke...". I am sure this will have consequences.

>

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by The-Steve
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This is an outrageous case though. member of parliament calling another member of parliament's accent "a joke...". I am sure this will have consequences.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by 00494d19
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In the US southerners have a serious problem with this sort of attitude also. Nevermind that Faulkner, capote, Tennessee Williams, McCarthy and countless other writers and speakers hail from there. Many people lose their accents not to be understood, but to be taken seriously.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by The-Steve
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I have to say that I wouldn't use my Andalusian for a public speech, though. I switch to standard Castillian accent whenever my audience can potentially have problems understanding me, and I use my day-to-day accent with people who understand me perfectly. Not everyone can understand my regional accent, and that's why I avoid it whenever necessary. I always use the Castillian accent with my students, unless they are advanced ones.

updated ENE 11, 2009
posted by lazarus1907