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I am referring to the sounds of "z" and the soft "c".

Latin America learned Spanish from Spain. So why do they not lisp consonants, having learned from Spanish people? Did Latin America somehow decide at some point to start pronouncing "z", "c", and "s" the same way? Or did Spain begin speaking that way after Latin America was already speaking Spanish?

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It's the same way why UK and US english are so different on their coloquial pronunciation, because same languages evolve differently when different communities use them for centuries. – Bardo Apr 15 '14 at 11:28
A lo mejor te interesa este hilo… – Adam Brown May 1 '14 at 11:49
@AdamBrown Thanks, great link. – Java Riser May 2 '14 at 3:18
In Spain, in some regions, consonants are lisped. In Canarias and Andalucía they do it most prominently. Plus, the version of Spanish first introduced to Latin America dates from 6 centuries ago, so it's normal it evolved differently across continents. – Rorok_89 May 6 '14 at 8:35
I've heard that the Andalucian part of Spain came to Latin America (in Andalucia, they speak like Latins without the lisp) – Boruch Oct 28 at 18:29

6 Answers 6

This is related to readjustment of the sibilant consonants that took place during the XVIth and XVIIth century, giving the origin of the consonantal current system of the Spanish language. The [s] advanced his point of joint towards the interdental fricative deaf sound (/θ/). Some dialects didn't change this sound (Andalucía, Canarias, America).


Or did Spain begin speaking that way after Latin America was already speaking Spanish?

I think this is true :)


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Debido a la expansión después de la reconquista (1492) hacia el sur por parte de Castilla, mientras que la Corona de Aragon lo hacia al mar Mediterráneo (conquista del Reino de Napoles en 1504) recuerdo el papel de los Andaluces en Sudamerica.

Como se comenta en otra respuesta el seseo es un rasgo y presente en la comunidad Andaluza y Canaria.

Hay una entrada en la wikipedia que debate la influencia del Andalucismo, véase Anti-andalucismo

Añado la cita que encontré en esa entrada que defiende su influencia, el libro es de 1688:

"Los nativos de la tierra, mal disciplinados en la pureza del idioma español, lo pronuncian generalmente con aquellos resabios que siempre participan de la gente de las costas de Andalucía" Historia general de las conquistas del Nuevo Reino de Granada, libro III, cap. III;Google Books

Mientras que el Antiandalucismo defiende la influencia de las lenguas propias de Sudamérica como el Maya, Náhuatl, Guarani, Quechua,...

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There is a theory that is slightly mentioned in the answers (Andalucismo). I my opninion it's the simpliest and much more logical than the others. It's also explained in the thread linked by Adam Brown.

This is the theory: in XVth century Spain, in the south (most Andalucía) people pronounced s, c and z as /s/. The people who wanted to go to America had to ship from Cadiz and they lived there for months until they could take the ship. By the time they left Cadiz, they all spoke like people from Cadiz, because this dialect is very easy to acquire. And the rest is pure logic.

Here is a quote from ¿Por qué la diferencia entre s y z/c solo se da en España?:

En cuanto a las causas del seseo en América, solo hay que ver lo mucho que se parecen hablando un canario y un cubano, o un andaluz a un chileno, para intuirlas.

En Canarias predomina el seseo porque los colonizadores españoles eran sobre todo andaluces, y en América pasó otro tanto, de modo que allí donde los andaluces no llevaron directamente su típico seseo, lo hicieron los canarios (fundamentalmente por el Caribe).

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This is an obvious one to me. Though I have no sources to back it up, I trust my theory.

Before the Nuevo Mundo, everyone spoke the King's Spanish, the Catholic Spanish, the Spanish that was forced into the culture and criticized to the extent of punishment. After the discovery and voyage to the New World, the strict Spanish-speaking rules did not apply. Only the Conquistador would have been able to enforce the King's Spanish, and honestly, I don't believe the conquistadores would have had enough time to be worried about the strict Spanish-speaking etiquettes.

Latin American Spanish is just the bastard language child of the King's Spanish. U.S American Espaglish is the bastard language child of Latin American Spanish. The examples are endless, especially when you consider how many bordering countries there are in the world that speak different languages. (i.e, Belgium & France, German & Polish, Russian & Ukranian)...

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As a story is cool, but i dont think the king cared much about a peasant using "z" or "s" sound, mainly because the south of spain have always used "s" instead of "z" and they're still alive – JesusS Oct 30 at 9:10

La pregunta es un poco "ingenua": supongo que no se habla inglés igual en todo el mundo.

No por nada en EE. UU. se dice "mom" y en el Reino Unido "mum". Así mismo, las formas de hablar varían entre países, y modismos locales, por la historia, etc.

Y no es que aquí seamos indios que aprendimos español de los españoles, es que somos descendientes de ellos, heredamos su idioma.

El tema con la S, la C, y la Z, viene desde la misma España: en regiones como Castilla y Madrid, se usa mucho la "distinción"; en otras zonas de España como Andalucía y las Canarias se usa el "seseo", y en otras regiones el "ceceo". Así mismo ocurrió en América, no es nada del otro mundo.

The question is a little "naive", I guess the same is not English speakers around the world ...

It not for nothing in USA "mom" is said and UK "mum", also, the ways of speaking vary between countries and local idioms, the story ...

Not that here we Indians learned Spanish, Spanish, is that we are descendants of them inherited their language.

The issue with the S, C, and Z, comes from the same regions in Spain ... as Castilla and Madrid, is widely used the "distinción" in other areas of Spain as Andalusia and the Canary Islands using "Seseo" and in other regions the "ceceo", also happened in America ... is not no big deal.

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Maybe "naive" works better than "innocent" in this context? – Diego Oct 30 at 16:01
Totalmente, si queda mucho mejor. – Lobo-Eze Oct 31 at 2:01

I've always thought that the language evolved differently in each country, depending on the languages spoken in Latin America before Spanish.

Taken from this link

El español llevado a América por los conquistadores evolucionó de distinto modo según las regiones y las zones de influencia de las lenguas indígenas. Todo dependió también del nivel de cultura de cada región: así no se puede comparar la región de Río de la Plata, de escasa cultura, con las altas culturas de los mayas y de los aztecas en Mesoamérica o la de los incas en los Andes.

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Not trying to be a smart aleck or anything, but I don't think answers that are just guesses are very constructive. In fact, if your guess is wrong, it could lead to the proliferation of incorrect information. – neizan Apr 16 '14 at 10:10
I deleted the guessing part. – itziki Apr 30 '14 at 6:51

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