Hello again, if you wonder what’s the connection with Guatemala, look below!
Do you like dialects? Do you usually ask people: Where are you from? Your accent reminds me of… I love the way you’re talking, where did you grow up? Or do you belong to the kind of people who think: Everybody should speak Oxfort / Boston / Standard English?
There are downsides of course:
- A beginner in a new language, has a hard time. Either he does not understand the dialect speaker, because he learns the correct standard version of the language. Or, he learns from dialect speakers and gets a lot of trouble , because he learns “false grammar and pronunciation” and it results to be even harder to learn the correct language later on.
- Generally, there are no rules. No organisation and no university controls what is correct Bavarian, bram or Cuban Spanish.
- Last but not least, a lot of people judge you by the the way you speak! They mix up dialect with colloquial language or slang
But there are fascinating, beautiful facets too:
- Dialects are a FACT. If you want to understand people from all over the world, different social classes and regions, you always have to learn new local words, grammar deviations and you must tune in, in order to know what’s going on.
- Dialects are fun, tradition, culture and more. As a German, I listen to German music. There are singers and bands who sing in standard German (mainly from northern Germany). But as for me, the very emotion, the deepest feelings can only be transported, talking dialect. The dialect is like your second native language! The expressions, the grammar and the pronunciation are closer to my heart, closer to my soul, than the language they teach in school. Even if I listen to a dialect, which is not mine, there is much more emotion in it, because it’s genuine. A concert of an Austrian singer (Wolfgang Ambros for example), is so heartwarming, although he uses words I cannot understand. Or when I listen to BAP (German rock band who sing in cologne dialect), I understand less than 50% of the lyrics. Nevertheless, the songs are so emotional and full of meaning (the fans memorrized the text of their successful songs anyway), so it doesn’t matter.
What has it to do with Guatemala?
Spanish is not my native language. Some maintain, there are No Spanish dialects. This is Rubbish. This is Nonsense.
There are a lot of varieties within the Spanish language. A friend of mine, who traveled South America, tells me: I love the way Argentinians pronounce. It is funny how the Cubans and persons from the Dominican Republic swallow the end of the words. You have to get used to it, to understand. And the “singing” pronunciation of Mexican native speakers is so lovely!
When you live in Guatemala for a longer time, it is a very good idea, to pay attention to the different ways of speaking within the country.
- Guatemalans, who learned Spanish as a second language (Mayas), have a special pronunciation and speak relatively slow.
- People from the coastal regions speak rapidly (all over Latin America).
- People from the east (Oriente) or from the capital, have their own way of speaking. After some time, you can guess from what part of the country, the person is from.
- There are words, which are only used in Guatemala: like pisto (money) or patojo – patoja (boy girl).
- The Voseo used in Guatemala derives from extinguished forms and is different from the voseo in other countries.
- There are strange expressions in Guatemala, which seem to be bad Spanish. Example? Less educated people may say: Voy a visitar a un mi tio (which literally means I a going to visit a my uncle. However, this is due to influences from Mayan languages. In Kaquchikel and Qiche there are various grammar systems, that require the use of possesive Prefixes and possesive pronouns. In Mayan languages it is impossible to visit an uncle. It MUST BE your uncle, my uncle or their uncle. Everything on earth belongs to someone. Therefore two sisters, talking about their mother, may say: “My mother told me this” and the other sister may answer: “My mother told me that”. They have the same mother, but generally they don’t say our mother.