Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is an officially gendered language, for every noun and adjective is either male or female. ‘Neutral gender’ is a nonexistent concept (much as is trying to keep our sentences short). It is spoken as an official language in most of Latin America from Mexico to Argentina, whit the exception of Brazil, Surinam, and a few others (an explanation of this follows). Yet, believing that Chilean Spanish, Colombian Spanish, and Mexican Spanish are the same is far from truth.
Of course we can carry conversations between nationalities most of the time (ask a Chilean). After all, we do work with the same raw material: the beautiful Español. Spanish came to Latin America about 500 years ago when Spain conquered most of the continent, and as conquerors do, imposed its language as the official sole way to communicate. Portugal did the same for Brazil with the Portuguese language and so on. But as history has proven us time and time again nothing involving humans is that simple.
If we take Ecuador as an example, we can appreciate how native languages become remained in everyday use and in turn became part of our identity. In the Andean region of my country is difficult to carry on a conversation without someone using ‘Quechuismos’ (introducing Quechua words into Spanish). It is a sort of Spanglish, but instead of English we use the Inca’s language. Besides Spanish and native languages, we Ecuadorians and Latin Americans have been influenced by other linguistic influences such as African, for during the time of Spain’s domination slavery was still a practice.
No place in Latin America speaks ‘official Spanish’; on the contrary thanks to our diversity we now have more than three ways of saying popcorn (that I know of) and who knows how many ways of cursing when something goes wrong. Every country has found their way to make use of Spanish as their own official Spanish. In a now ever changing world where we are more connected then ever, it is fascinating to wonder where our language will go next.
By Denisse Sarzosa