Salvadoran Castilian

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Linguistic variations of Central American Spanish.

Salvadoran Castilian or Salvadoran Spanish is geographically defined as the form of Spanish spoken in the country of El Salvador in Central America. El Salvador is the only country in North and Central America to use the term Castellano or Castilian as oppose to Spanish or Español. The Castilian dialect in El Salvador shares many similarities to that of its neighbors in the region, but it has its stark differences in pronunciation and usage. El Salvador, like most of Central America, uses voseo Spanish as its written and spoken form, similar to that of Argentina. Vos is used, but many Salvadorans understand tuteo. Vos can be heard in television programs and can be seen in written form in publications. Usted is used as a show of respect, when someone is speaking to an elderly person.

Second person singular pronouns[edit]


An examination of the dominance and stress of the voseo dialect in Central America. Data generated as illustrated by the Association of Spanish Language Academies. The darker the country, the stronger its dominance.

"Vos" is the dominant second person singular pronoun used by many speakers in familiar or informal contexts. Salvadoran Vos comes from Medieval Gothic Spain, and was brought to El Salvador by militaristic Spaniards who owned the land. Its counterparts are French Vous, Portuguese Você and English Thou. Voseo is most commonly used among people in the same age group in addressing one another. It is common to hear young children address each other with "vos." The phenomenon also occurs among adults who address one another in familiar or informal contexts. "Vos" is also used by adults in addressing children or juveniles. However, the relationship does not re-occur when children address adults. Children address adults with "usted;" regardless of age, status or context. The conservation of Voseo in Salvadoran Spanish was thanks to El Salvador's ties to the United States and Great Britain. When El Salvador became independent, it discontinued to have trade links with Spain unlike other tuteo countries. El Salvador's main trading partners were the United States and Great Britain, thus Spain did not influence El Salvador's language anymore as Spain changed to tuteo. In turn English words influenced El Salvador's spanish and voseo was conserved.

Conjugations with the Vos Pronoun[edit]

See Voseo

The conjugations with the vos second person form vary in comparison with its tuteo counterpart.

Affirmative Imperative[edit]

See Voseo Affirmative Imperative

The use of the imperative in Salvadoran Spanish is emphatic, with particular emphasis on the final letter of a given verb. The emphasis also removes the need for additional words that establish a given command. For example, ¡Ven aca! or ¡Ven aquí! becomes ¡Vení!


"Usted" is the formal second person singular pronoun in Salvadoran Castilian. "Usted" is used in addressing foreigners formally, for acquaintances, and in business settings. Unlike nearby Costa Rica, "usted" is not the dominant second person pronoun for addressing a person.


"Tú" is hardly used; the use of tú is limited strictly to foreigners. It is used in addressing foreigners familiarly and when writing correspondence to foreigners (again in familiar contexts).

Further reading[edit]

  • Aaron, Jessi Elana (University of Florida) and José Esteban Hernández (University of Texas, Pan-American). "Quantitative evidence for contact-induced accommodation: Shifts in /s/ reduction patterns in Salvadoran Spanish in Houston." In: Potowski, Kim and Richard Cameron (editors). Spanish in Contact: Policy, Social and Linguistic Inquiries (Volume 22 of Impact, studies in language and society, ISSN 1385-7908). John Benjamins Publishing, 2007. Start page 329. ISBN 9027218617, 9789027218612.