Our Speech Variety

"This is my idiolect of your dialect in our language"

      To be one in 427 million people in the world that speak Spanish as their native language is scary. The fact that there are so many words in Spanish to choose from, to refer to one thing in specific, makes it harder for it be seen as a language and easier to be seen as a dialect.

      People who think that their Spanish is superior will say that I use a dialect of their language. Those who are still learning Spanish as a second language, or are simply struggling with it, will see my Spanish as "superior" (therefore as a language). The reality of this case is that Spanish, and any other of those 6,909[1] approximate languages in the world, are both a dialect and a language.

Language-Dialect-Accent

      A language is a continuum of a dialect and a dialect is the continuum of an idiolect. Huh? The way a language is spoken by a subgroup of people is an accent. The way you speak, how you use your words, your natural accent: that's your idiolect. The variety of the language spoken by a group of people distinguished from other varieties of the same language: that's the dialect. Combine those three things and you've got yourself your language!

Linguistic Variations

      Even though I speak Spanish, other Spanish speakers in my Island will have a different language, dialect and accent because of their geographical location, their social class, their educational level or background, and their social variation and influences from daily life activities, and so on.

            No one will ever speak the same as another person because no one has the same accent nor voice pitchiness; you won't speak tomorrow like you speak today because we all learn something new every day and that makes us expand our personal dialect and language.

      I asked around and I came across a few differences in the way we use some words here in Puerto Rico, for example:

  • a crow is called "chango (prieto)", "changa" or "machambo" 
  • an old car is called "chatarra", "chustro", "tres potes" or "vejestorio" 
  • when it starts to rain people say "llovizna" or "chispiando".

Internationally, there are some barriers with the Spanish language:

  • police:  "policía" (Puerto Rico), "jara" (Newyoricans), "cana, shuta or gorra" (Argentina)
  • bus: "guagua" (Puerto Rico), "bus" (Spain), "bondi" (Argentina)
  • drinking straw: "sorbeto" (Puerto Rico), "pajita", “chupito” (Spain), "popete" (México)

Some of these words have different meanings whilst others mean nothing to me. Therefore, I might consider them as a part of a dialect when, in fact, those words are part of a language: Spanish. The language that you're speaking is perfect just the way it is because it's your language; as long as people understand what you mean, you are speaking the same tongue. Although, at the same time, you are speaking a dialect because of how you use it. If there are variations in your language - little or big - it doesn't matter: that just means that, when you speak another language, technically, you won't be wrong because it will be your appropriation of that language - linguistically speaking -.