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What Is Castilian Spanish?

Are you eager to study Spanish and wondering what the differences might be between Castilian Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish? If you're asking, "What is Castilian Spanish, anyway?" you've come to the right place.

Just like how we speak English slightly differently in the United States versus how they speak English in Australia, location impacts the Spanish language as well. With that being said, it's possible that if you visit Mexico but learned Castilian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish, there may be certain words or things that don't translate the same as they would if you were to visit Spain and converse with native speakers there.

A Brief History on Castilian Spanish

Castilian Spanish refers to what is called Peninsular Spanish, and is the primary language spoken in Northern and Central Spain. Due to political reasons, in the 13th century King Alfonso X of Spain was a huge proponent of having historic documents translated into the dialect of Northern and Central Spain, with Castile being a part of this region. This particular dialect was known as Castilian, and is based off Vulgar Latin. This political move helped Castilian Spanish become the official language for the government. Castilian was also solidified by a book called "Arte de la Lengua Castellana," by Antonio de Nebrija. This book is considered the first textbook on the Spanish language. Despite Castilian's "official language" status, there were still other Latin-based languages in the surrounding regions. And with that said, whether you choose to learn Spanish, the Spain (Castilian) dialect or Spanish, the Latin America dialect, just know that there are, in certain instances, differences between the two regarding:

  • Accents
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary & Slang

Whichever you choose, Rosetta Stone makes it so you learn more than a few Castilian Spanish words—you learn the language. Our Dynamic Immersion® method teaches new words and phrases based on the context in which they're used, so you'll be prepared to thrive in real-world conversations that don't follow a script. We also help you develop your accent and pronunciation with our speech recognition technology, TruAccent®, that will help you fine-tune your pronunciation in real-time. Because there's no point in knowing the words if people can't understand what you're saying, whether you're in Spain or Mexico.

Are There Special Castilian Spanish Words?

Now that you understand that location, politics, and history shaped the differences in the Spanish language, with unique differences between Castilian Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish, here are some of the differences between the dialects. This is not, however, an exhaustive list of the differences:

  • "Vosotros": Latin American dialects do not use the informal "vosotros" pronoun for the second person plural; Instead, these dialects use "ustedes."
  • "Ustedes" in Spain: Castilian Spanish only uses "ustedes" in a formal manner.
  • Distinction: Castilian Spanish, or what is called European Spanish, will pronounce the c that comes before i and e as a "th" sound. Z is also pronounced as a "th" in all instances. However, Latin American Spanish does not use this particular sound.
  • "Leísmo": Unlike Latin American Spanish, Castilian uses "le" instead of "lo" as the masculine direct object pronoun in reference to people.
  • ATL: If a word contains the three letters "atl," it is pronounced differently in Castilian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish.

There are other unique distinctions between these two dialects but overall, you will find many commonalities, no matter where you are traveling.

Eager to get started? Let's get you talking. Discover why millions have used Rosetta Stone to speak another language with confidence. Through repetition and teaching you patterns of the language, you'll learn new material—and revisit some you've already covered–at just the right intervals. We help you make connections between what you're seeing and what you're saying. Don't hesitate—if speaking another language has intrigued you for a long time, don't leave it on your bucket list with a big question mark. Our program is accessible on all devices, so whether you're on the go or at home, there's never a bad time to practice your accent and conversational skills.

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