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The Spanish Language is spoken in so many countries, some of them so far apart (Chile and Cuba, for instance) and others receiving very little Spanish cultural influence these days, that it's just natural that a few varieties of the Spanish language should have developed. Some of them even with dialects of their own.

The English Language has several well recognized varieties - BrE, AmE, AusE, SAE, CanE, etc. The Portuguese Language has European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, which differ a lot in several aspects. Not to mention the African and Asian varieties. So, my question is: what are the main varieties of Castillan Spanish in the world? I don't expect a long discussion about each variety as I understand it would be completely off-topic here.

Si tú eres más competente en español, tienes libertad para responder como quieras. Yo comprendo muy bien.

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One of my favorite things about Spanish is that, unlike English or Portuguese which are effectively bicentric languages — two primary standards, with any other dialects exerting very little influence on the language and generally relatively unknown and unexperienced by native speakers of the main two — it is highly pluricentric.

While many tend to think of Spanish bicentrically as being either Peninsular (Spain) or Latin America (everywhere else), it's actually a pretty terrible way to break things up. Most broadly speaking, we can identify the following major dialect regions:

  • Spain Spanish
  • African
  • Caribbean
  • Mexican
  • Central American
  • Andean
  • Rioplatense

Chilean Spanish is an interesting one that I don't really feel comfortable categorizing entirely separately nor with Rioplatense or Andean, though it shares characteristics of each. African Spanish, being generally a non-native language for its speakers, could be broadly grouped with the Peninsular variety. Philippines Spanish is effectively extinct, and of the few audio clips I've heard of it, could probably be also folded into Peninsular. The Caribbean region includes both the insular regions (D.R., P.R. and Cuba) and the continental Caribbean, that is, those coastal parts of the Americas that touch the Caribbean.

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    Good answer. Would you know a good reference where I can read about the characteristics of each variety ? Where would you place canarian, andorran, and lliviense Spanish? – Centaurus Oct 9 '16 at 22:27
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    Good answer! Two comments: 1. In Spain there are several different accents: e.g. Andalusians pronounce z as s, and omit lots of final sounds. 2. As a Chilean (though possibly biased) I feel ours is separate from the others: although we have more pronunciation in common with Rioplatense, we also have lots of autochthonous slang (even with special verb conjugations), fossil meanings, specific imagery and a very fast speech, at the point that some movies have needed dubbing when presented in other Latin American countries – Rafael Oct 10 '16 at 0:23
  • Interesting answer and question from @Centaurus. Are we considering differences in vocabulary or in grammar as being necessary to say they are distinct? – mdewey Oct 10 '16 at 11:19
  • @mdewey there's no hard definition of what constitutes a dialect (likewise, for a language). It's really a combination of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. – user0721090601 Oct 10 '16 at 11:48
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    @Rafael Well, I did say I wasn't sure where to place it. Perhaps it does go on its own. In Spain there are indeed different accents, but accent alone doesn't define a dialect (but could lead to eventual sound shifts that can start modifying grammar or vocabulary — for example, making subjects explicit in Caribbean Spanish, especially in questions, rather than omitting them as would generally be expected elsewhere) – user0721090601 Oct 10 '16 at 11:57

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