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All languages have dialects, but there tend to be "major" dialects (e.g. For English, Canadian/American, a few of the British accents could be considered as the main dialects to consider learning (there are others, this is just an example)).

With Spanish, it seems like there are many more major dialects. For that matter, it just seems like there are more dialects in general. That said, is proper pronunciation really that important, given that so many people speak in so many ways, all of which are native to different regions? Along these lines, is it incorrect to combine features and 'make up' a dialect (e.g. pronounce 'll' the way Argentinians do and 'z' the way Spaniards do)?

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There is no problem in pronounce 'z' in Spain as /th/ or /s/. Some Spanish accents (specially in Southern Spain) use /s/ sound for 'z'. –  pferor Jan 2 '12 at 14:24
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It depends on what correct means and in which circumstances.
In a Spanish exam, you'll certainly fail with the example you gave, but if all you want is to be understood by native speakers, you'll mostly be alright as we all spanish speakers can understand each other no matter what dialect each one speaks.

This being said, I'm Argentinian and once in Mexico, I called the operator to make a phone call back home and I said: quiero hacer una llamada, with the typical Argentine pronunciation of ll as you say, which sounds pretty much like english sh and the operator kept saying ¿samada? and she coudln't possibly understand what I was saying, until I corrected myself to /iamada/

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"In a Spanish exam, you'll certainly <missing word?>" –  Flimzy Jan 4 '12 at 5:19
    
Sorry, I accidentally the word fail. –  Petruza Jan 4 '12 at 14:16
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