Mar 1, 2005, 8:48 PM
Post #9 of 16
A couple of thoughts cam to mind.
1. Venezuelans would never admit Colombians did anything better than Venezuelans. That old neighborly rivalry often rears its head. And what are the two countries probably most competitive about? Not soccer, because although Colombians are soccer fanatics, Venezuelans play baseball more, which is insignificant in Colombian. No, anybody who has watched Miss Universe knows that Miss Colombia and Miss Venezuela are usually in the final 10, and beauty pagents are also national obsessions. :-)
2. As you noted, many Venezuelans have a typical Caribbean pronunciation. That is, the final S's are almost non-existent, and often S's in the middle of a word are dropped too. I have to admit that the Caribbean regions of Colombia do this too. I returned from Colombia saying "ma o meno" instead of "mas o menos." I have always said that there is a bank on some island in the Caribbeanwhere all of those unused S's are stored, and one day the vault is going to burst open and all we're going to hear from that part of the world is SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
3. When I studied in Peru and lived with a family there, I was told by Peruvians that Colombians speak the purest Spanish in South America and that Peru was #2. However, Peruvian Spanish (or Castellano as they called the language there) has infiltration from the native languages like Quechua, much like Mexican Spanish has from the native languages, especially Nahuatl.
4. I think referring to the language is as Castillian, or Castellano, is just a difference in vocabulary, not necessarily trying to to elevate one's language above Spanish. I encountered the same thing in Peru, and once in awhile in Colombia.
5. Colombian Spanish does not have influences from native languages that I can tell. Each region does have its accent and regional vocabulary, but I do think that it is one of the easier versions of Spanish to understand when spoken. I find Cuban Spanish very difficult because of all the dropped S's.
6. All of that said, as a Spanish teacher I believe every form of Spanish is equally valid and acceptable as long as it communicates. Of course the differences in vocabulary can lead to misunderstandings, sometimes very funny or embarrassing. I found myself on various occasions being the translator between my Colombian husband and Mexicans, both here in the US and in our travels in Mexico. But usually those things were involved around a single word. For example: tinto in Colombia is a black coffee, whereas tinto in Mexico would be a red wine. That vocab difference led to a confusing moment for our Mexican hostess when my husband requested a "tinto" just like he had at her home the day before. She didn't remember that she had served wine the day before. I, the gringa, had to explain to both of them what the other was thinking. Sometimes it is the non-native speaker, who has had more chance to travel or interact with Spanish speakers from various countries, who is more aware of the many varieties Spanish can come in than the native speaker who has not had the same experiences.
For me learning all these differences between Spanish (or Castellano, if you prefer) in one place and another is lots of fun. I do have to stop and think sometimes which word I need to use before I open my mouth or I end up doing something like I did in Ajijic in December when I used the word "mona" to refer to myself. I'm sure my listener was thinking "female monkey?" when I meant "blonde." Whereas Mexicans use the word "güero/a" to refer to a blond/e, Colombians call them "monos/as." (I understand güero/a comes from a Nahuatl word meaning foreigner/stranger.) I understand Venezuelans use the word "catiro/a" for blond/e. But the word "rubio/a" is understood by all of these native speakers, though it may not be what they commonly used. In Colombia a "mico/a" is a monkey and he had a real hard time calling Micaela, the Argentine exchange student at my school, Mica because it always felt to him like he was calling her a monkey.
Thanks for your reply. As I said, I find language fascinating and hope to learn more from this forum