Andalusian Spanish

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Andalusian Spanish
EthnicityAndalusians, Gibraltarians
Early forms
Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Spanish Braille
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Andalusia highlighted. Area of seseo and ceceo in darker purple.

The Andalusian dialects of Spanish (Spanish: andaluz [andaˈluθ]; Andalusian: [ãndaˈluh, -ˈlʊ, æ̃ndæˈlʊ]) are spoken in Andalusia, Ceuta, Melilla, and Gibraltar. They include perhaps the most distinct of the southern variants of peninsular Spanish, differing in many respects from northern varieties, and also from Standard Spanish. Due to the large population of Andalusia, they are among the most widely spoken dialects in Spain. Within Spain, other southern dialects of Spanish share some core elements of Andalusian, mainly in terms of phonetics  – notably Canarian Spanish, Extremaduran Spanish and Murcian Spanish as well as, to a lesser degree, Manchegan Spanish.

Due to massive emigration from Andalusia to the Spanish colonies in the Americas and elsewhere, most Latin American Spanish dialects share some fundamental characteristics with Western Andalusian Spanish, such as the use of ustedes instead of vosotros for the second person informal plural, and seseo. Many varieties of Spanish, such as Canarian Spanish, Caribbean Spanish and other Latin American Spanish dialects, including their standard dialects, are considered by most to be based on Andalusian Spanish.


Andalusian has a number of distinguishing phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical features. However, not all of these are unique to Andalusian, nor are all of these features found in all areas where Andalusian is spoken, but in any one area, most of these features will be present.

Phonological features[edit]

Areas of Andalusia in which seseo (green), ceceo (red), or the distinction of c/z and s (white) predominate. Note that the city of Cádiz has seseo.

Most Spanish dialects in Spain differentiate between the sounds represented in traditional spelling by ⟨z⟩ and ⟨c⟩ (before ⟨e⟩ and ⟨i⟩), pronounced /θ/, and that of ⟨s⟩, pronounced /s/. However, in many Andalusian-speaking areas, the two phonemes are not distinguished and /s/ is used for both, which is known as seseo /seˈseo/. In other areas, the sound manifests as [] (a sound close, but not identical to [θ]), which is known as ceceo (/θeˈθeo/). Unless a specific dialect is transcribed, transcriptions in this article follow the standard pattern found in the syllable onset, so that the orthographic ⟨z⟩ and the soft ⟨c⟩ transcribed with ⟨θ⟩, whereas the orthographic ⟨s⟩ is transcribed with ⟨s⟩.

In still other areas, the distinction is retained. While the distribution of seseo, ceceo, and distinción has in the past been described as geographical, there is considerable sociological and even intra-speaker variation. Also, the idea that areas of rural Andalusia at one time exclusively used ceceo has been challenged, and many speakers described as ceceante or ceceo-using have in fact alternated between use of [s̟] and [s] with little pattern.[3] In addition to the typical ceceo, seseo, and distinction, Dalbor (1980) found that many Andalusians alternate between a variety of sibilants, with little discernible pattern.[4] Ceceo predominates in more southerly parts of Andalusia, including the provinces of Cádiz, southern Huelva, rural areas of Málaga and Seville (except the northern parts of both provinces and the city of Seville) and south-western Granada. Patterns of dialect levelling have been observed however in Western Andalusian places such as Huelva and Jerez, with the unmerging of traditional ceceo and adoption of the distinción norm.[5] A common stereotype about ceceo is that it is mostly found in backward rural areas, but the presence of ceceo in major cities such as Huelva and Cádiz is enough proof to refute this.

Seseo predominates in Córdoba, northern Seville and Málaga and western Huelva. The cities of Seville and Cádiz are seseante, but entirely surrounded by ceceo areas; the city of Cádiz is the only area in the entire province of Cádiz, along with San Fernando (La Isla de León), that is not ceceante. Distinción is mostly found in the provinces of Almería, eastern Granada, Jaén, and the northern parts of Córdoba and Huelva. See map above for a detailed description of these zones. Outside Andalusia, seseo also existed in parts of Extremadura and Murcia up to at least 1940.

The realization of these sibilants also varies according to sociological factors. The standard distinction which predominates in Eastern Andalusia is now to be heard in many cultivated speakers of the West, especially among younger speakers in urban areas or in monitored speech. The influence of media and school is now strong in Andalusia and this is eroding traditional seseo and ceceo.[6]

  • Yeísmo, that is the merging of /ʎ/ into /ʝ/, is general in most of Andalusia. In Western Andalusian, /ʝ/ is an affricate [ɟʝ] in all instances, whereas in standard Spanish this realisation only occurs after a nasal or pause.
  • Intervocalic /d/ is elided in most instances, for example *pesao for pesado ('heavy'), *a menúo for a menudo ('often'). This is especially common in the past participle; e.g. he acabado becomes *he acabao ('I have finished'). For the -ado suffix, this feature is common to all peninsular variants of Spanish, while in other positions it is widespread throughout most of the southern half of Spain. This is the continuation of the tendency of lenition in Vulgar Latin which developed into the Romance languages. Compare Latin vīta [ˈwiːta], Italian vita [ˈvita], Brazilian Portuguese vida [ˈvidɐ] with a fully occlusive [d], European Portuguese vida [ˈviðɐ], Castilian Spanish vida [ˈbiða] with an interdental [ð] (as in English ⟨th⟩ in "this"), vivaro-alpine Occitan viá ['vjo] and French vie [vi], where the /d/ is elided as in Andalusian (vida [ˈbi.a] 'life').
  • Similarly, intervocalic /ɾ/ is also elided, although this tends to occur only in certain environments. For example, parece becomes *paece ('it appears'), quieres becomes *quies ('you want') and padre and madre may sometimes become *pae and *mae ('father' and 'mother', respectively). This feature can be heard in many other parts of Spain, too (such as para → *pa 'for').[citation needed]
  • Obstruents (/b d ɡ p t k f s x θ/) and sonorants (/r m n l/) often assimilate the place of articulation of the following consonant producing gemination (or debuccalization);[7] e.g. perla [ˈpehla]~[ˈpelːa] ('pearl'), carne [ˈkahne]~[ˈkãnːe] ('meat'), adquirí [ahkiˈɾi]~[akːiˈɾi] ('I acquired'), mismo [ˈmihmo]~[ˈmĩmːo] ('same'), desde [ˈdɛhðe]~[ˈdɛðːe] ('from'), rasgos [ˈrahɣɔh]~[ˈræxːɔ] ('traits'). In Andalusian and Murcian Spanish syllable-final /s/ is very unstable; often assimilated to [ɸ] before /b/ (/sb/ → [hβ] → [hɸ] → [ɸː]), as in desbaratar → *effaratar [ɛhɸaɾaˈta]~[ɛɸːaɾaˈta] ('to ruin, to disrupt') and to [x] before /g/, as in rasgo [raxːo] 'feature',[8] or to [ɹ] (where ceceo or distinción occur) before /θ/ (/sθ/ → [ɹθ]),[9] as in ascensor [aɹθẽnˈso] ('lift').
  • Utterance-final /s/, /x/ and /θ/ (where ceceo or distinción occur) are usually aspirated (pronounced [h]) or deleted. In Eastern Andalusian dialects, including also Murcian Spanish, the preceding close or mid vowel is also lowered, whereas the preceding open vowel is fronted.[10] Thus, in these varieties one distinguishes casa [ˈkasa] ('house') and casas [ˈkæsæ] ('houses') by a final deleted or aspirated /s/ and front vowels in the latter word, whereas northern Spanish speakers would have central vowels in both words and a terminal alveolar [s] in casas.

As a result, these varieties have five vowel phonemes, each with a tense allophone (roughly the same as the normal realization in northern Spanish; [ä], [e̞], [i], [o̞], [u], hereafter transcribed without diacritics) and a lax allophone ([æ], [ɛ], [ɪ], [ɔ], [ʊ]). In addition to this, a process of vowel harmony may take place where tense vowels that precede a lax vowel may become lax themselves, e.g. trébol [ˈtɾeβol] ('clover, club') vs tréboles [ˈtɾɛβɔlɛ] ('clovers, clubs').[10] S-aspiration is general in all of the southern half of Spain, and now becoming common in the northern half too.[11]

  • Mainly in Western Andalusia, /s/-aspiration can result in post-aspiration of following voiceless stops,[12][13] as in /resto/ pronounced [ˈretʰo].[12]
    • As a likely related change, -/st/- may be pronounced as an affricate [ts]. This change is recent, being led by young women, and is present at least in Seville and Antequera.[14]
  • Intervocalic /p/, /t/, /k/ are usually voiced, especially in male speech, and can even become approximants.[15]
  • As in standard Spanish, phonetic vowel nasalization occurs for vowels occurring between nasal consonants or when preceding a syllable-final nasal. However, contrary to standard Spanish (where syllable-final nasal consonants are retained), in Andalusian varieties utterance-final nasals are often deleted, e.g. bien [ˈbjẽ] ('good').
  • Final consonants are dropped in many instances. This does not cause the previous vowel to lower or front; e.g. comer [koˈme] ('to eat'), comercial [komerˈθja] ('commercial'), pared [paˈɾe] ('wall'). This often gives rise to a situation where two different words sound exactly the same, as with the infinitive cortar ('to cut'), the imperative ¡cortad! ('cut [it]!') and the feminine past participle cortada, ('[a] cut thing'); which are all pronounced [korˈta]. The geographical extent of this consonant drop is variable, and in some cases, like final ⟨d⟩, common to most of Spain.
  • /tʃ/ undergoes deaffrication to [ʃ] in Western Andalusia, including cities like Seville and Cádiz, e.g. escucha [ɛˈkuʃa] ('s/he listens').
  • /l/ may be pronounced as /r/ in syllable-final position, as in [ˈarma] instead of [ˈalma] for alma ('soul') or [er] instead of [el] for el ('the'). The opposite may also happen, i.e. /r/ becomes /l/ (e.g. sartén [salˈtẽ] 'frying pan'). Because of this variation, transcriptions in this article follow the distribution found in Standard Peninsular Spanish.
  • /x/ is usually aspirated or pronounced [h] except in some eastern Andalusian subvarieties (i.e. Jaén, Granada, Almería provinces), where the dorsal [x] is retained. This also happens in most of Extremadura and parts of Cantabria.
  • Before [h] (Western Andalusian), /r/ can be pronounced in two ways: it may be elided, thus leaving only the [h] or it may be retained. Thus, virgen ('virgin') becomes either [ˈbihẽ] or [ˈbirhẽ].
  • Words of Latin origin starting with ⟨h⟩ (originally ⟨f⟩) in writing (that is, that have kept the etymological ⟨h⟩ in writing) are sometimes pronounced with an initial [h] sound, e.g. Latin fartvs 'stuffed, full' → harto [ˈharto] (standard Spanish [ˈarto] 'fed up'). This also occurs in the speech of Extremadura. However, this characteristic is limited to rural areas and the flamenco culture.

Morphology and syntax[edit]

  • Subject pronouns

Many Western Andalusian speakers replace the informal second person plural vosotros with the formal ustedes (without the formal connotation, as happens in other parts of Spain). For example, the standard second person plural verb forms for ir ('to go') are vosotros vais (informal) and ustedes van (formal), but in Western Andalusian one often hears ustedes vais for the informal version.

  • Object pronouns

Although mass media have generalised the use of le as a pronoun for the substitution of direct objects, many Andalusians still use the normative lo, as in lo quiero mucho (instead of le quiero mucho). Laísmo (the substitution of indirect pronoun le with la, as in the sentence la pegó una bofetada a ella) is typical of central Spain and not present in Andalusia. Though not prescriptively correct according to the RAE, it is frequently heard on Radio and TV programmes.

  • Verbs

The standard form of imperative, second person plural with a reflexive pronoun (vosotros) is -aos, or -aros in informal speech, whereas in Andalusian, and other dialects, too, -se is used instead, so ¡callaos ya! / ¡callaros ya! ('shut up!') becomes ¡callarse ya! and ¡sentaos! / ¡sentaros! ('sit down!') becomes ¡sentarse!.

  • Gender

The gender of some words may not match that of Standard Spanish, e.g. la calor not el calor ('the heat'), el chinche not la chinche ('the bedbug'). La mar is also more frequently used than el mar. La mar de and tela de are lexicalised expressions to mean a lot of....


Many words of Mozarabic, Romani and Old Spanish origin occur in Andalusian which are not found in other dialects in Spain (but many of these may occur in South American and, especially, in Caribbean Spanish dialects due to the greater influence of Andalusian there). For example: chispenear instead of standard lloviznar or chispear ('to drizzle'), babucha instead of zapatilla ('slipper'), chavea instead of chaval ('kid') or antié for anteayer ('the day before yesterday'). A few words of Andalusi Arabic origin that have become archaisms or unknown in general Spanish can be found, together with multitude of sayings: e.g. haciendo morisquetas (from the word morisco, meaning pulling faces and gesticulating, historically associated with Muslim prayers). These can be found in older texts of Andalusi. There are some doublets of Arabic-Latinate synonyms with the Arabic form being more common in Andalusian like Andalusian alcoba for standard habitación or dormitorio ('bedroom') or alhaja for standard joya ('jewel').


Some words pronounced in the Andalusian dialects have entered general Spanish with a specific meaning. One example is juerga,[16] ("debauchery", or "partying"), the Andalusian pronunciation of huelga[17] (originally "period without work", now "work strike"). The flamenco lexicon incorporates many Andalusisms, for example, cantaor, tocaor, and bailaor, which are examples of the dropped "d"; in standard spelling these would be cantador, tocador, and bailador, while the same terms in more general Spanish may be cantante, músico, and bailarín. Note that, when referring to the flamenco terms, the correct spelling drops the "d"; a flamenco cantaor is written this way, not cantador. In other cases, the dropped "d" may be used in standard Spanish for terms closely associated with Andalusian culture. For example, pescaíto frito ("little fried fish") is a popular dish in Andalusia, and this spelling is used in many parts of Spain when referring to this dish. For general usage, the spelling would be pescadito frito.

Llanito, the vernacular of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, is based on Andalusian Spanish, with British English and other influences.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2020. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-third edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2022). "Castilic". Glottolog 4.6. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  3. ^ Brogan (2018:16, 84)
  4. ^ Dalbor (1980:6)
  5. ^ Ruch, Hanna (2018). "Perception of speaker age and speaker origin in a sound change in progress: The case of /s/-aspiration in Andalusian Spanish". Journal of Linguistic Geography. Cambridge University Press. 6: 41. doi:10.1017/jlg.2018.4.
  6. ^ Santana Marrero, Juana (December 2016). "Seseo, ceceo y distinción en el sociolecto alto de la ciudad de Sevilla: nuevos datos a partir de los materiales de PRESEEA". Boletín de filología (in Spanish). 51 (2): 255–280. doi:10.4067/S0718-93032016000200010.
  7. ^ Mondéjar Cumpián, José. (2001). Dialectología andaluza : estudios : historia, fonética y fonología, lexicología, metodología, onomasiología y comentario filológico. Pilar Carrasco, Manuel Galeote ([Rev. ed.] ed.). Málaga: Universidad de Málaga. ISBN 84-95073-20-X. OCLC 48640468.
  8. ^ Obaid, Antonio H. (March 1973). "The Vagaries of the Spanish "S"". Hispania. 56 (1): 60–67. doi:10.2307/339038. JSTOR 339038.
  9. ^ Recasens (2004:436) citing Fougeron (1999) and Browman & Goldstein (1995)
  10. ^ a b Lloret (2007:24–25)
  11. ^ Penny (2000:122)
  12. ^ a b Ruch, Hanna (April 2018). "Perception of speaker age and speaker origin in a sound change in progress: The case of /s/-aspiration in Andalusian Spanish". Journal of Linguistic Geography. 6 (1): 40–55. doi:10.1017/jlg.2018.4. ISSN 2049-7547.
  13. ^ Torreira, Francisco (2007). "Pre- and postaspirated stops in Andalusian Spanish". Segmental and Prosodic Issues in Romance Phonology. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. 282: 67–82. doi:10.1075/cilt.282.06tor. ISBN 978-90-272-4797-1.
  14. ^ Moya Corral, Juan Antonio; Baliña García, Leopoldo I.; Cobos Navarro, Ana María (2007). "La nueva africada andaluza" (PDF). In Moya Corral, Juan Antonio; Sosiński, Marcin (eds.). Las hablas andaluzas y la enseñanza de la lengua. Actas de las XII Jornadas sobre la enseñanza de la lengua española (in Spanish). Granada. pp. 275–281. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  15. ^ O'Neill, Paul (2010). "Variación y cambio en las consonantes oclusivas del español de Andalucía" (PDF). Estudios de Fonética Experimental. XIX: 11–41. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  16. ^ Juerga in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
  17. ^ Huelga in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.

External links[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Alvar, Manuel: A vueltas con el seseo y el ceceo (Alicante)
  • Guitarte, Guillermo L. (1992): "Cecear y palabras afines" (en Cervantes Virtual)
  • Herrero de Haro, Alfredo; Hajek, John (2020), "Eastern Andalusian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association: 1–22, doi:10.1017/S0025100320000146, S2CID 229484009
  • Ropero Núñez, Miguel (1992): "Un aspecto de lexicología histórica marginado: los préstamos del caló" (en Cervantes Virtual)