The top 10 cities where the best Spanish is spoken

Lucifer

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You have to become Aplatanado.
I can definitely be aplatanado, but only when the situation calls for it: hanging out at a colmadón, downing a few cold ones; hanging out with family members and close friends en el barrio; you know, if I'm en una chercha con los panas...
 

aarhus

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I can definitely be aplatanado, but only when the situation calls for it: hanging out at a colmadón, downing a few cold ones; hanging out with family members and close friends en el barrio; you know, if I'm en una chercha con los panas...
Sounds you are doing a better job of it than me.
 

Marianopolita

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I used to have a girlfriend from Bucaramanga and she spoke a very clear Spanish, but I wouldn't say she sounded Costa Rican. Some of the Colombian actors in the movies I've been watching have a nice and somewhat distinct accent that I'm told is from Medellin. I find Colombian speakers in general are fairly easy to understand.
Bucaramanga, Santander, also part of the Andean region (Cordillera) the Spanish will be quite clear there. As well, there is what I call a standard sound to a Colombian accent then the regional distinctions that most cities such as Medellín aka paisa accent have which is strong. Not only is the accent distinct but their speech patterns are typical of the region, Antioquia. They are also voseo dominant in Medellín and everything is pues…

Telemundo novelas now are Colombian actors. Anyone who watches Spanish TV during the day on Telemundo it is all Colombian.
 
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Marianopolita

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I have sometimes considered living there if I could. I like to say with language it’s almost the opposite situation for me in Miami than in Santo Domingo. In Miami the legal and business language and in the bank etc is English but often socially and in shops and restaurants Spanish is more useful which I then enjoy. In Santo Domingo the legal and business language and in the bank is Spanish but I often had English language friends so spoke English socially. I find it easier in Miami that way.

Yes, that sounds like Miami would be perfect for you then. I go to Miami often enough and I am always amazed at how there is very little English presence. Spanish is the expectation. Being able to speak the language definitely has reach and Spanish will continue to be dominant there. There’s no turning back.

The only aspect though is the Spanish is quite incorrect in many grammatical aspects but it’s okay there but not in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. You just need to be aware. It’s Miami.
 
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Marianopolita

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Unfortunately, Dominicans fall short on the "best Spanish scale."

Now, in an effort to sound "sophisticated" and well-traveled, some communicators and so-called influencers, and even corporations, include English words and phrases in their every-day engagements, thus relegating us to the back of the pack in the 'proper Spanish' spectrum.

Case in point:

I've heard El Pachá say that so-and-so "hizo un 'live' en vivo".
And ALL of the radio and TV personalities pronounce 'CInema' as 'ciNEma', with emphasis on the second syllable, when talking about Caribbean Cinema.
No one pronounces 'media' as it should be, but insist on pronouncing 'media' as in sock, when referring to Alofoke Media Group.
Folks are now asking that their orders con entrega a domicilio be delivered by "un delivery".

Haga sus pedidos. Tenemos entrega a domicilio.
"¡Oh! ¿Entonces no me la pueden enviar con un delivery?"


While this is not about me, I often find myself insisting on using Spanish while in the D.R.... even when I heard a couple of guys at a photo studio make fun of me... IN BADLY-SPOKEN, error-replete ENGLISH. My companion kept insisting I let them know I understood them. I didn't bother.

In an effort to show off their knowledge of a few English words, Dominicans are falling way behind in the proper Spanish category. We are probably the worst offenders, mistreating the language of Cervantes like a red-headed step-child.

You are correct Dominicans do fall short on the ‘best spoken Spanish scale’ but honestly, I don’t think anyone (who is knowledgeable about language) is expecting to see any Dominican city on the list. The question needs clarification though. Does the best Spanish mean the easiest to understand or does it refer to the best spoken grammatically and clarity of speech? Certain criteria might change the results a bit.

I agree with you the English words in Dominican speech today is trendy but most often incorrect and almost always used by those who have no knowledge of English. In the quest to sound ‘above average’ they are unaware of their incorrect usage of English. However, what is worse the improper English or Spanish which is the official language of the country?

What I don’t like in the DR is the usage of the apostrophe. The Spanish language does not use the apostrophe in any words but you see it in the DR especially the name of stores. If the original name has one then that’s okay because it’s a foreign word or name but to use an apostrophe in a Spanish word is incorrect.

Dominican Spanish is considered a challenge to understand for native, bilingual and foreigner Spanish speakers alike. It is a variation of ‘the language of Cervantes’, part of the Caribbean classification of Spanish and quite removed from the standard form. However, one will meet Dominicans that have a good command of Spanish and in my experience the command is always tied to their level of education.
 

Lucifer

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Interesting article, Marianopolita. Who, rather than where.

I remember listening to the late Wisconsin senator, Paul Wellstone, during his anti-war speech prior to the Kuwait conflict, and getting goosebumps at his eloquence. Same goes for the late Christopher Hitchens. I guess I can be just as mesmerized listening to a Cuban or Chilean speak properly, rather than conclude that Colombia has the best version.
 
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aarhus

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Yes, that sounds like Miami would be perfect for you then. I go to Miami often enough and I am always amazed at how there is very little English presence. Spanish is the expectation. Being able to speak the language definitely has reach and Spanish will continue to be dominant there. There’s no turning back.

The only aspect though is the Spanish is quite incorrect in many grammatical aspects but it’s okay there but not in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. You just need to be aware. It’s Miami.
Well yes but maybe it’s just regarding language Miami suits me better. English is the professional language and then it’s very useful and fun to need Spanish more day to day socially.
 

cavok

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Bucaramanga, Santander, also part of the Andean region (Cordillera) the Spanish will be quite clear there. As well, there is what I call a standard sound to a Colombian accent then the regional distinctions that most cities such as Medellín aka paisa accent have which is strong. Not only is the accent distinct but their speech patterns are typical of the region, Antioquia. They are also voseo dominant in Medellín and everything is pues…

Telemundo novelas now are Colombian actors. Anyone who watches Spanish TV during the day on Telemundo it is all Colombian.
Yes, that's exactly what I noticed from the actors that I thought were from Medellin - the use of the voseo. I didn't know what it was at first. A lot of verbs are pronounced/conjugated differently. For example, instead of saying "entiendes?", they say "entendes'? with the accent on the last syllable. It was used a lot.
 
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cavok

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Yes, that sounds like Miami would be perfect for you then. I go to Miami often enough and I am always amazed at how there is very little English presence. Spanish is the expectation. Being able to speak the language definitely has reach and Spanish will continue to be dominant there. There’s no turning back.

The only aspect though is the Spanish is quite incorrect in many grammatical aspects but it’s okay there but not in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. You just need to be aware. It’s Miami.
You mentioned this in a previous post, but the Cubans(way more likely than any other Spanish group) are constantly mixing English words and phrases in with their Spanish. Also, I've overheard many conversations where they will switch back and forth during the conversation from Spanish to English. In these cases, their English was really fairly good. They were bilingual.
 
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Marianopolita

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Interesting article, Marianopolita. Who, rather than where.

I remember listening to the late Wisconsin senator, Paul Wellstone, during his anti-war speech prior to the Kuwait conflict, and getting goosebumps at his eloquence. Same goes for the late Christopher Hitchens. I guess I can be just as mesmerized listening to a Cuban or Chilean speak properly, rather than conclude that Colombia has the best version.

Exactly. Through my sociolinguistic studies and decades of observation of the Spanish language in all its facets, I moved away from the generalization that all Colombians speak well. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan and I think the average Colombian speaks well compared to the average speaker from another Spanish-speaking country but it should be noted that Spanish speakers from other countries too speak very well meaning pronunciation and grammar. They represent the Spanish that you will hear from their compatriots.

I liked the perspective of the article in my post #26. It presents the other side of the coin which is worth consideration. The blogger presents a lot of valid points. Regarding Cuban Spanish, the good speakers are out there. People go by what they hear in Miami or New York which is not the only brand. I also look at literature. Countries that have a big contribution to Spanish literature also have a population with a notable percentage of good speakers. I think that is why you see the same countries mentioned in these types of polls- Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Spain but look at the literature. There is unbelievable writing constantly coming from these countries.
 
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Marianopolita

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Yes, that's exactly what I noticed from the actors that I thought were from Medellin - the use of the voseo. I didn't know what it was at first. A lot of verbs are pronounced/conjugated differently. For example, instead of saying "entiendes?", they say "entendes'? with the accent on the last syllable. It was used a lot.

Approx 30-40% of Latin America uses voseo forms. So it’s quite widespread. I am surprised you had not heard it before. Antioquia the whole region is voseo-speaking and it is one of the noted aspects of Spanish spoken in Medellín. All of the Southern Cone of South America is voseo usage. In fact it is the standard pronoun instead of tú.

One aspect I noticed is in some Spanish text books now the voseo conjugations are included with the regular conjugations whereas I can tell you thirty years ago you would not find those forms in a text book. Vos decís, vos querés, etc…still have very widespread usage in Spanish today but not in Spain or the Caribbean (the Antilles) at all.
 
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cavok

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When I say "good" when referring to Costa Rican and Colombian speakers, I mean good "to me", in that compared to others, in general, I find they are the easiest for me to understand. However, I've listened to speeches by Danilo and Abinader on tv and understood clearly almost every word they spoke. On the other hand, I find many talk show hosts here a little difficult to understand.
 

Marianopolita

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When I say "good" when referring to Costa Rican and Colombian speakers, I mean good "to me", in that compared to others, in general, I find they are the easiest for me to understand. However, I've listened to speeches by Danilo and Abinader on tv and understood clearly almost every word they spoke. On the other hand, I find many talk show hosts here a little difficult to understand.

Don’t worry. I understood what you meant by ‘good‘ when referring to Colombian and Costa Rican Spanish. I could imagine the difficulty you experience understanding the talk show hosts and chances are that is their best version of Spanish. Imagine how they sound off air. It may get easier for you over time but who knows. Spanish in the DR will vary across the spectrum.

I like listening to baseball players from DR, Cuba and PR to compare. The majority sound the same, limited vocabulary and full of speech patterns that should be avoided but that is their everyday speech. However, it’s part of the make up of Caribbean Spanish and they are not only ones who speak that way. Vamo’ a jugal….I often just tell people translate it to standard Spanish in your mind and you will understand.
 

Lucifer

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Exactly. Through my sociolinguistic studies and decades of observation of the Spanish language in all its facets, I moved away from the generalization that all Colombians speak well. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan and I think the average Colombian speaks well compared to the average speaker from another Spanish-speaking country but it should be noted that Spanish speakers from other countries too speak very well meaning pronunciation and grammar. They represent the Spanish that you will hear from their compatriots.

I liked the perspective of the article in my post #26. It presents the other side of the coin which is worth consideration. The blogger presents a lot of valid points. Regarding Cuban Spanish, the good speakers are out there. People go by what they hear in Miami or New York which is not the only brand. I also look at literature. Countries that have a big contribution to Spanish literature also have a population with a notable percentage of good speakers. I think that is why you see the same countries mentioned in these types of polls- Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Spain but look at the literature. There is unbelievable writing constantly coming from these countries.
Every now and then, I tell myself that I should read more Spanish literature, but I fail miserably. But seriously...
 

Marianopolita

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Every now and then, I tell myself that I should read more Spanish literature, but I fail miserably. But seriously...

I am surprised because you seem like someone who would enjoy Spanish literature especially since you are skillful with language in general. I am an avid reader of Spanish literature for the past 25 years+ and prior to that I did not read at all in general. However, one day I decided to buy some books and just start reading because it’s great for your mind, your memory, language skills etc. everything improves and I have not looked back since.


What do you think it is that is not motivating you to read in Spanish?

You mentioned you like the Mexican accent. What about Mexican authors? That is a country that is a big contributor to Spanish literature.

I would love hearing your thoughts.
 

Lucifer

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I am surprised because you seem like someone who would enjoy Spanish literature especially since you are skillful with language in general. I am an avid reader of Spanish literature for the past 25 years+ and prior to that I did not read at all in general. However, one day I decided to buy some books and just start reading because it’s great for your mind, your memory, language skills etc. everything improves and I have not looked back since.


What do you think it is that is not motivating you to read in Spanish?

You mentioned you like the Mexican accent. What about Mexican authors? That is a country that is a big contributor to Spanish literature.

I would love hearing your thoughts.
You're correct in thinking I should enjoy Spanish literature more. Like most latinos, I started with th obligatory Gabriel Carcía Márquez, then gravitated to other authors over the years. But eventually I felt as if they were the equivalent of Top-40 music. Now I feel I'm late to the party, for there are many, many good authors whose work I should be enjoying, both in Spanish and English.

I must confess, though, that I thoroughly enjoy reading English essays and magazines, such as The Atlantic, UTNE Reader, NYT Review of Books, and a handful of political publications. I've gone the Harari and Hitchens route, as well as some of the latest bestsellers, such as Atomic Habit and Think Like a Monk. But I should start alternating languages.

As far as Mexican authors, I've compiled a short list of must-read, starting with Laia Jufresa and Valeria Luiselli. I just need to get started
 
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chico bill

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Unfortunately, Dominicans fall short on the "best Spanish scale."

Now, in an effort to sound "sophisticated" and well-traveled, some communicators and so-called influencers, and even corporations, include English words and phrases in their every-day engagements, thus relegating us to the back of the pack in the 'proper Spanish' spectrum.

Case in point:

I've heard El Pachá say that so-and-so "hizo un 'live' en vivo".
And ALL of the radio and TV personalities pronounce 'CInema' as 'ciNEma', with emphasis on the second syllable, when talking about Caribbean Cinema.
No one pronounces 'media' as it should be, but insist on pronouncing 'media' as in sock, when referring to Alofoke Media Group.
Folks are now asking that their orders con entrega a domicilio be delivered by "un delivery".

Haga sus pedidos. Tenemos entrega a domicilio.
"¡Oh! ¿Entonces no me la pueden enviar con un delivery?"


While this is not about me, I often find myself insisting on using Spanish while in the D.R.... even when I heard a couple of guys at a photo studio make fun of me... IN BADLY-SPOKEN, error-replete ENGLISH. My companion kept insisting I let them know I understood them. I didn't bother.

In an effort to show off their knowledge of a few English words, Dominicans are falling way behind in the proper Spanish category. We are probably the worst offenders, mistreating the language of Cervantes like a red-headed step-child.
Puerto Rico also butchers the language. I think it goes to laziness. Not taking the time to say it out and taking shortcuts.
Chaco dame do ma cerveza pa mi miga
 
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Marianopolita

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You're correct in thinking I should enjoy Spanish literature more. Like most latinos, I started with th obligatory Gabriel Carcía Márquez, then gravitated to other authors over the years. But eventually I felt as if they were the equivalent of Top-40 music. Now I feel I'm late to the party, for there are many, many good authors whose work I should be enjoying, both in Spanish and English.

I must confess, though, that I thoroughly enjoy reading English essays and magazines, such as The Atlantic, UTNE Reader, NYT Review of Books, and a handful of political publications. I've gone the Harari and Hitchens route, as well as some of the latest bestsellers, such as Atomic Habit and Think Like a Monk. But I should start alternating languages.

As far as Mexican authors, I've compiled a short list of must-read, starting with Laia Jufresa and Valeria Luiselli. I just need to get started

Well said. Your first paragraph is right on point. I understand what you mean about GGM as obligatory reading for Latinos and the fact that you eventually gravitated towards other authors. Classic authors like Márquez though are a must because they give you the foundation. I never understood the reason for this until years after university (a long time ago now but I still remember) However, at least you recognize that there is a lot of good work out there and it does not matter if you feel late to the party- más vale tarde que nunca.

Reading essays, magazines, book reviews etc. those count as reading material. I support various types of reading. You are getting it done. Keep that up.

I am not familiar with those Mexican authors you mentioned. I am going to look them up. I have not read much at all from Mexico but I have a few books in my large home library. I have a book by a classic Mexican author Carlos Fuentes (one that is on every university reading list) that I need to read at some point La voluntad y la fortuna and literature from contemporary authors like Laura Esquivel. In short, I read books by authors from Cuba, Spain, Peru and Argentina the most so far. I am currently reading a light novel- No soy tu perfecta hija mexicana by Erika Sánchez. It is a nice read so far. After that I will most likely read Rosa Montero’s most recent novel or the latest by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez.

If you like essays and want to read in Spanish you may like Jaime Bayly, Peruvian. Warning: this guy can write.

Happy reading!
 
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