Cuban Spanish

The Spanish spoken in Cuba (and Latin America) differs from the Spanish spoken in Spain. For example, the formal second person plural USTEDES is used for both formal and informal conversations; USTEDES replaces the informal second person plural VOSOTROS. Another characteristic of Latin American Spanish is that the letters “C” and “Z” are pronounced like S, while in Spain “C” and “Z” are pronounced differently. They are pronounced like TH, as in THANK YOU.

In Spanish Caribbean countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, the Caribbean territory of Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Puerto Rico, our spoken Spanish is similar and thanks to the expressiveness of our people, it is not too difficult for foreigners to understand us.

Other aspects of Cuban Spanish:

Grammar: We use the simple past tense (pretérito) more frequently than the present perfect (pretérito perfecto) to describe actions in the recent past, as in the following examples:

  • Desayuné temprano (Cuba).
  • He desayunado temprano (Spain).

Pronunciation: Although Caribbean Spanish is closer to the Spanish spoken in Andalucia (Southern Spain), Canarian and Caribbean variants are more alike. We also have a tendency to pronounce “Englishisms” like pyjamas and jersey closer to the English pronunciation. “J” is pronounced like Y in yellow, while in Spain it is pronounced “H” as in house (or even stronger, as the German “CH”).

Word

Pronunciation in Spain

Pronunciation in Cuba

Pijama

Pijama

Piyama

Jersey

Jersey

Yersi

CD

Ce De

Ci Di

DVD

De Ve De

DI Vi Di

 

People normally eliminate “S” and other final consonants in oral speech: “tú come”, (you eat)  instead of “tú comes”. Besides that,  “S” before “P”, “B”, “T”, “D”, “K”, “G”,  is  aspirated by them, and pronounced like the “H” in “house” in words such as “esperar” or “casco”.

 

Word

Pronunciation in Cuba

Esperar

E(j)perar

Casco

Ca(j)co

Puesto

Pue(j)to

Desde

De(j)de

Final “R” is deformed and pronounced with a sound similar to “N” or a clear “L”. So “amor” (love) becomes “amon” or “amol”. “R” may be assimilated by the following consonant. As a result “verde” (green) becomes “vedde”, “parque” (park) becomes “pacque”.

Vocabulary: in all languages there are regional differences and variants, most of them are related to food, dress, objects, etc. The same happens in both Spain, its autonomous  communities , historical regions and Latin American countries, as well.

Word in Spain

Word in Cuba

Inglés (English)

patata

papa

potato

mandioca

yuca

manioc

batata

boniato

sweet potato

banana

plátano

banana

pomelo

toronja

grape fruit

falda

saya

skirt

cajón

gaveta

drawer

armario

escaparate

wardrobe

autobús

guagua

bus

We teach Spanish according  to books written by Spanish authors willing to use a rather more international  Spanish including our own Cuban approach.

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