From what I know, the "th" sound (like the th in thick) is written C before I and E and Z before A, O and U in European Spanish. However, in other regions, they are realized as [s] which is also written S. Why is there no th sound in Latin American Spanish? Is that th sound too hard to pronounced or what?

  • I think rather than written with an S, they are pronounced as an S, but the writing is both in European Spanish and Latin American Spanish following the rules you mentioned before.
    – R18
    Commented Jan 16 at 7:54
  • You should provide examples of what you mean.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 16 at 16:51
  • @Lambie: My main question was, why are C and Z both pronounced [s] in Latin American Spanish as opposed to their [th] pronounciation in ES. Why is [th] realized as [s] in Latin American Spanish? Commented Jan 16 at 17:01
  • You need to give sample words. Anyway, it's all explained here: juntadeandalucia.es/averroes/centros-tic/18008841a/helvia/aula/…
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 16 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


The rules for written language are the same for Spanish everywhere. However, there is a phonological variation in the pronunciation of the phonemes /s/ and /θ/. It is called a seseo when speakers do not distinguish between these sounds, pronouncing /s/; and it is called a ceceo when they do not distinguish between them and pronounce something more like /θ/. On the map below you can see the geographical distribution of this phenomenon.

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The reasons for the seseo can be traced back to the different evolutionary courses followed by the complex system of sibilants in pre-17th century Spanish, which was modified in different ways in the northern and southern regions of Spain. Until then, a distinction was made between four phonemes.

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