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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 at 11:28
    
A lo mejor te interesa este hilo spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/3477/… –  Adam Brown May 1 at 11:49
    
@AdamBrown Thanks, great link. –  Java Riser May 2 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 at 8:35

5 Answers 5

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).

So

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

I think this is true :)

Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seseo#Origins

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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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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 at 10:10
    
I deleted the guessing part. –  itziki Apr 30 at 6:51

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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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 http://spanish.stackexchange.com/a/3481/6817:

"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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