Sunday, January 09, 2005

"It's not in Spanish, it's in South American"

First, a disclaimer: I love Spain; it's one of my favorite places in the entire world, I've had some of the most fun times of my life there, I love the people, history, culture, food, etc., and I have dear, dear friends there.

That said, I have to say that the attitude of many Spaniards towards the Spanish of Latin America is something that strikes me, and not always in a positive manner.

Whereas Latin Americans seem to realize that there are many regional variations of Spanish, all of which are "correct" in their own countries, many of the Spaniards I know seem to feel that there is only one real or correct Spanish, and that is the Spanish of the Real Academia Española.

So, according to the RAE and many of my friends from Madrid, it is wrong to use ustedes instead of vosotros when you are addressing a group of friends or family; it is wrong to use the preterite tense (¿Comiste?) instead of the present perfect (¿Has comido?) to refer to something that has happened within the past 24 hours; it is wrong to pronounce the word for "hunt" (caza) the same way you would pronounce the word for "house" (casa). I could go on.... and they most certainly do.

I'm used to this, and as I've said before, I love the heated discussions it engenders. But I still was surprised when the 14-year-old daughter of our friends from Madrid came to stay with us this summer, and went to watch the DVD of Finding Nemo on the Spanish setting. I asked her how she liked it, and she said,

"Well, I thought it was going to be in Spanish. But it wasn't in Spanish, it was in South American."

That was so fascinating to me, and I'm still thinking about it. In addition to reflecting the youthful innocence of a young teenager first coming into contact with other parts of the world, I think it also reflects the larger question of "What is Spanish." Everyone will have their own opinion on that. And every opinion will, in its own way, be correct.


Aleksu said...

Uh oh, don't even get me started on this one.

Lets say that you're being nice and polite when addressing the issue.

Nayeli said...

That is so weird...I've seen that kind of attitude from the English towards American English, but never from the Spanish toward Mexican Spanish. Maybe it's because my family is pretty cool. For us, it actually is the other way around! My Spanish aunts always say we speak so well, and we can't believe how much our Spanish relatives "mess up" the language. I was reading a letter my aunt wrote and I thought it was a grammatical nightmare, from a standard grammar point of view, in any case. I wish I had it on hand for a sample....