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Guide to Andalusian Spanish

I overhear a Mexican family having a conversation at the airport. Having just returned from living in Seville for six months, I’m shocked by their Spanish.

“Wow,” I think to myself. “There are so many sounds in those words!”

“Los andaluces se comen las palabras,” is often used to explain Andalusian Spanish, or andaluz as it’s called in Spain. “Andalusians eat words,” meaning that fragments of sound never make it out of their mouths.

It can be confusing to piece sentences together and fill in the blanks. But it’s not random or nonsensical. Even los andaluces live by rules.

PRONUNCIATION

The Letter “S”

Andalusians have a habit of dropping the “S” from the ends of words and between a vowel and a consonant.

Andalusians speak in sentences that would make your Intro to Spanish teacher’s skin crawl:

Tú habla mucho y tú lo sabe.
Las cosa son buena.

The letter “S” is one of the most essential in Spanish. It’s how verbs are put in the tú form, and how singular words are made plural.

It’s not always clear who the subject of the sentence is or how many things are being talked about. In order to clear up confusion, Andalusians simply include the subject of the sentence more often than other Spanish speakers do.

More confusingly, the “S” drop is a habit, but not an every time occurrence, so sometimes you will hear “Muchas gracias” and other times “Muchas gracia” and still other times “Mucha gracias” and also “Mucha gracia.”

Because some Andalusians pronounce “Z” the same way they pronounce “S,” the “Z” is also sometimes dropped from the end of words, as in: Badajo’, andalu’, feli’.

The Letter “D”

Andalusian Spanish also tends to drop the letter “D” at the end of words and between vowels, creating words like:

supermerca’o
to’o
Madri’

Combined with the “S” drop, this creates sentences like:

To’o U’te’e’ han i’o a E’paña.
Entonce’ tú ya sabe’ que no tenemo’ na’a de hela’o pa’a vosotro’.
Hay gente por to’o lo’ la’o’.

“R” and “L”

Another common Andalusian habit is to switch the “R” and the “L” in words, or to cut off the “R” altogether at the end of words or between vowels.

The big joke in Seville is that “mi alma” and “mi arma” are indistinguishable. “Mi alma” literally means “my soul,” and is a sweet way to refer to a person, similar to “honey” or “darling” in English. But with the Andalucian accent, it is often pronounced “mi arma” which means “my weapon.”

The “R” is also dropped between between vowels and at the end of words, creating sentences like:

Bueno’ dia’ mi arma, que tal e’t’a’?
Tú va’ a llama’ al aboga’o.

“C,” “S,” and “Z”

In most parts of Spain, the letter “S” is pronounced as /s/, the same way English speakers pronounce it in the words “sand” and “cats.” The letters “C” (before “E” and “I”) and “Z” are pronounced as /θ/, the same as the unvoiced “Th” sound English speakers use, such as in the words “thing” or “north.

In Andalusia, some speakers keep the same distinction that most Spaniards do.

However, other Andalusians speak with the “ceceo” or “seseo,” which are fancy words meaning that  the letters “C” (before “E” and “I”), “S,” and “Z” are all pronounced the same way.  Seseo speakers pronounce all three letters as /s/, and ceceo speakers pronounce all three letters as /θ/. So for example, ceceo and seseo users make no distinction between the words “casa” and “caza.” 

  Ves Vez Cita Queso
Most Spaniards Ves Veth Thita Queso
Ceceo Veth Veth Thita Quetho
Seseo Ves Ves Sita Queso

As many jokes as Spaniards get about their “lisp,” you’d think they’d be totally tolerant of the ceceo users who utilize the /θ/ on everything resembling the letter “S,” but that does not seem to be the case. Many Spaniards, including other Andalusians, see the ceceo pronunciations as hilarious, and more of an uneducated, backwoods type of speech. 

Word Combining

Andalusians often speak quickly, sometimes creating Frankenstein-like words that are actually entire sentences:

Sentence Meaning
Tu’ma’echo.
Pue’na.
S’a’ca’o.
Tú me has hecho
Pues, nada.
Se ha caido.

EXAMPLE

Let’s take a look at some lyrics sung by the Andalusian, seseo-using rapper Mala Rodriguez to help put it all together.

No seré yo
La que dise adió’
M’a’ hecho vení’
M’a’ hecho bajá’
M’a’ hecho caé’
M’a’ hecho sudá’
M’a’ hecho desí’
M’a’ hecho callá’
Pobre corasón ha’ta cuando yo
Tendré que subí’
Tendré que bajá’
Tendré que desí’
Tendré que callá’
Todo porque sé que
Tú no ere’ má’
Que un pobre corasón
No seré yo
La que dice adiós
Me has hecho venir
Me has hecho bajar
Me has hecho caer
Me has hecho sudar
Me has hecho decir
Me has hecho callar
Pobre corazón hasta cuando yo
Tendré que subir
Tendré que bajar
Tendré que decir
Tendré que callar
Todo porque sé que
Tú no eres más
Que un pobre corazón

INFLUENCE

Let’s take a look at some more lyrics:

Planta tu’ pie’
Como do’ raise’
Con ese tumba’o
Puede que me hechise’
Cuida’o que no te pise
Mamita con cautela
Sacude la tela
En el nombre de tu abuela
Mi canelita
Mi asucarita
Mi linda sara
Mi tormentita huracanada
Mi santa clara
No vo’a dejar que
Te pise ninguna cosa rara
Vo’a prender la’ vela’ pa’a que
No te pase nada
Planta tus pies
Como dos raices
Con ese tumbado
Puede que me hechizes
Cuidado que no te pise
Mamita con cautela
Sacude la tela
En el nombre de tu abuela
Mi canelita
Mi azucarita
Mi linda sara
Mi tormentita huracanada
Mi santa clara
No voy a dejar que
Te pise ninguna cosa rara
Voy a prender las velas para que
No te pase nada

This is classic Andalusian Spanish. Seseo is used, the “S” is dropped, the “D” is cut out. But these lyrics are from Puerto Rico, not Andalusia.

After the Spanish conquest many “S” dropping, “D” ignoring, “L” and “R” swapping, word-combining, seseo-using Spaniards flocked to the Carribean and coastal areas of the Americas. In fact, some linguists theorize that the reason Latin Americans speak with seseo is because of the large migration of Andalusians and Canary Islanders to the new world.

Andalusian influence on Latin American, and specifically Caribbean Spanish, happened in two stages:

  1. Andalusian Spanish influenced Canary Island Spanish.
  2. Andalusians and Canary Islanders immigrated to the Caribbean and brought their accent with them.
¡Que no' vamo' a La' I'la' Canalia'!

¡Que no’ vamo’ a La’ I’la’ Canalia’!

This is why you hear similar (though certainly not identical) accents in Andalusia, The Canary Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, even coastal areas of Latin America such as parts of Veracruz.

STATUS

It’s difficult to say that one way of speaking is objectively better than another, but Andalusian Spanish has a bit of an inferiority complex.

Andalusian Spanish is Spain’s southern accent, and just as in the US southern speech is often seen as messy, dim-witted, and vulgar. Andalusians often “clean-up” their Spanish or “hablar fino” (“speak in a refined way”) in professional situations or when talking with non-Andalusians.

Let’s listen to the Andalusian comedian Dani Rovira discussing los andaluces-

He makes an interesting analogy that I think accurately describes how many Spaniards feel about Andalusian Spanish. It roughly translates to:

“I don’t mean to say that we Andalusians are better or worse than anybody. We Andalusians are different. Like if you say, ‘My dog walks backwards,’ your dog isn’t better or worse. Your dog is weird.”

As we know, an Andalucian dog is the epitome of weird.

After all, an Andalusian dog is the epitome of weird.

 

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9 Responses to Guide to Andalusian Spanish

  1. Trevor Huxham October 27, 2013 at 10:35 PM #

    Hahahahahaah I LOVED this post…because it is so so accurate :D Your “Entonce tú ya sabe que no tenemo naa de helao paa vosotro” made me laugh, and that Malagueño comedian was HI-LAAAAAA-RIOUS. Wow. Thanks for this super-comprehensive post!

    • Kate Peregrina October 28, 2013 at 1:16 PM #

      Thanks!!

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  3. Jenny January 12, 2014 at 6:51 PM #

    Hey Kate! Just discovered your blog, it’s really entertaining. I’m an auxiliar in Bilbao right now, but studied for a year in Granada so this post cracked me up!! I took a course at the University of Granada called “Hablas Andaluzas,” about all the different phenomena that occur in Andalú, which was really interesting. Only problem was that the professor had THE THICKEST acento andalú himself, so I only caught about half of what he was trying to teach….Needless to say, the Spanish in Bilbao is like a breath of fresh air coming from the constant comprehension struggle in the south, but I always get excited when I hear Andalú, since it reminds me of the great times I had in Graná :)

    • Kate Peregrina January 15, 2014 at 12:45 AM #

      Thanks! I’m always shocked when I go to the north by how different the Spanish is.

  4. guido Del February 16, 2014 at 4:18 AM #

    Is it possible to get a phrase book in andalusian spanish

  5. Carlene May 2, 2014 at 10:20 PM #

    I’m planning a trip to Tarifa, Spain and would like to know which dialect I should learn. This is all so very confusing.

    • Kate Peregrina May 3, 2014 at 11:06 AM #

      Well, Tarifa is in Andalucia.

  6. Hillary December 23, 2014 at 6:08 AM #

    I am laughing about this as I just returned from studying in Seville! I didn’t understand a word my señora said the first two weeks… And then it clicked all of a sudden. I now speak like them… Talking about my Christmas holidays as “vacathiones de navida'”. So so funny :-)

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