Andean Spanish

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Dialectal map of Peru and Ecuador. Andean Spanish is in red.

Andean Spanish is a dialect of Spanish spoken in the central Andes, from western Venezuela, southern Colombia, with influence as far south as northern Chile and Northwestern Argentina, passing through Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. It is influenced principally by Castilian, Canarian and Andalusian Spanish, which is favoured in the cities, while in rural areas and some cities, there is influence of Quechua, Aymara, and other indigenous languages.

Notable phonological characteristics[edit]

  • In Andean Spanish, the /s/ is never aspirated in the final position, that is, it's pronounced [s] and not [h]; this [s] is sometimes pronounced apical rather than laminal [1] (a trait characteristic of northern Spain), a sound transitional between [s] and [ʃ], this phonetic trait (unique in the Americas) is to be associated with a large number of northern Spanish settlers in Andean region.
  • As in all American dialects, Andean Spanish has seseo (traditional /θ/ merges with /s/). That is, casa ("house") and caza ("hunt") are homophones. However, in Cusco many speakers realize /s/ as [θ] in some words, particularly in once, doce, trece.[1] Seseo is common to all of America, the Canary Islands, and several areas in southern Spain.
  • Especially in the Ecuadorian variant, coda /s/ is often voiced to [z] before a voiced consonant (including sonorants) or a before vowel. In the Peruvian variant, it is palatalized before /i/.
  • In Bolivia, Ecuador, and southern Peru, /ʎ/ and /ʝ/ do not merge (lack of yeísmo).
  • Often the vowels /e/ and /i/ or /o/ and /u/ are merged, due to the influence of the tri-vocal system of Quechua and Aymara.
  • /r/ and /ɾ/ are assibilated to [] and [ɾ̞], respectively. This[all three? one of them?] is only found in Ecuador and Bolivia.
  • /x/ is velar [x] rather than glottal [h]
  • /f/ is realised as bilabial [ɸ], the same one that adds an epenthetic /w/ is often confused with /x/.[clarification needed]
  • It gives emphasis to the consonants while weakening the vowels, with even less on unstressed syllables (like in Mexico, but not as marked).
  • The stress is, or tends to be, penultimate.

Influence on nearby areas[edit]

In northwest Argentina and north Chile today, it is possible to say that there is a certain fusion in the dialects of those respective countries but noting that more dominant are the local dialects. The Andean dialect can be seen northeast with respect to the pronunciation and lexicon. While the Rioplatense dialect provides some of the pronunciation, a variety of modes and the Argentine dialect replaces the Andean use of "tú" as the second person singular familiar pronoun with "vos". It is very similar in Chile, but "tú" and "vos" are both used as the singular familiar second-person pronoun. Additionally, there is influence of Chilean Spanish and some of Andean Spanish.


  1. ^ a b Lipski, John (1994). Latin American Spanish. New York: Longman Publishing. p. 320. 


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