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The Andalusian dialect of Spanish (also called andaluz/andalú) is spoken in Andalusiamarker, Ceutamarker, Melillamarker, Gibraltarmarker and parts of southern Extremaduramarker. It is perhaps the most distinct of the southern dialects of peninsular Spanish, differing in many respects from northern dialects as well as from Standard Spanish. Due to the large population of Andalusia, the Andalusian dialect is the second most spoken dialect in Spainmarker, after the transitional variants between Castilian and Andalusian (for example the one from Madrid). Due to massive emigration from Andalusia to the Spanish colonies in the Americas and elsewhere, many American Spanish dialects share some fundamental characteristics with Andalusian Spanish, such as the use of ustedes instead of vosotros for the second person plural, and the widespread use of seseo. Canarian Spanish, Caribbean Spanish, Chilean Spanish and Rioplatense Spanish are based on Andalusian.


For historical and political reasons, many people over the years have tried to argue that Andalusian is not a dialect of Spanish, but a language in its own right, to the extent that the Ministry of Education & Science of Andalusia's regional government refers to Andalusian as "modalidad lingüística andaluza" or "Andalusian language variety" instead of calling it a dialect.


Areas of Andalusia in which seseo (green), ceceo (red), or the distinction of c/z and s (white) predominate
Andalusian has a number of distinguishing phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical features. However, not all of these are unique to Andalusian, nor are all of these features found in all areas where Andalusian is spoken, but in any one area, most of these features will be present.

Phonological features

  • Most Spanish dialects in Spain differentiate between the sound of "z" and "c" (before e and i), pronounced and that of "s", pronounced . However, in many Andalusian-speaking areas, the sounds of all three letters are pronounced as an "s" ( ), which is known as Seseo. In other areas, all three letters are pronounced , which is known as Ceceo. In still other areas, the distinction is retained (Distinción). Ceceo predominates in more southerly parts of Andalusia, including Cádizmarker, southern Huelvamarker, most of Málagamarker and Sevillemarker (except the northern parts of both provinces and the city of Sevillemarker) and south-western Granadamarker. A common stereotype about Ceceo is that it is mostly found in backward rural areas, but the predominance of Ceceo in major cities such as Málagamarker, Huelvamarker and Granadamarker (where, on the other hand one can also find distinction, depending on the neighbourhood) are enough proof to refute this. Seseo predominates in Córdobamarker, northern Seville and Malaga and western Huelva. Interestingly, the cities of Seville and Cádizmarker are seseante, but which are entirely surrounded by Ceceo using areas; Cádiz city is very unusual in that it is the only area in the entire province of Cadiz that is not ceceante. Distinción is mostly found in Almeríamarker, eastern Granada, Jaénmarker, and the northern parts of Cordoba and Huelva. See map above for a detailed description of these zones. Outside Andalusia, Seseo has also existed in parts of Extremaduramarker and Murciamarker up to at least 1940.

  • Intervocalic is elided in many words, for example pesao for pesado ('heavy'), a menúo for a menudo ('often'). This is especially common in the past participle, e.g. he acabado becomes he acabao ('I have finished'). For the -ado suffix, this feature is common to all peninsular variants of Spanish, while in other positions it is widespread throughout most of the southern half of Spain.

This is the continuation of the tendency of lenition in Vulgar Latin which developed into the Romance languages. Compare Italian vi'ta, (Brazilian) Portuguese vida with a "hard" D', Castilian vi'da with a "soft" D' (like English th in this), and French vie, where the -d-' is elided as in Andalusian.

  • Similarly, intervocalic is often elided also, although this tends to occur only in certain words and phrases. For example, parece becomes paece ('it appears'), quieres becomes quie'es ('you want') and padre and madre may sometimes pa'e and ma'e ('father' and 'mother', respectively). This feature can be heard in many parts of Spain, too.

  • Final and are usually aspirated (pronounced ) or just omitted. This makes the previous vowel lowered. In all southern Spanish varieties, one distinguishes la casa , ('the house') and las casas , ('the houses') by a final and open vowels, where northern Spanish would have and closed vowels. Eastern varieties of Andalusian (along with Murcian Spanish) thus have 5 tense vowels (roughly the same as in northern Spanish); , , , , . And 5 open vowels; , , , , . In addition to this, a process of vowel harmony takes place where tense vowels that precede a lax vowel may become lax themselves. For example: el niño ('the boy'), ; los niños ('the boys') in spoken Andalusian is , with lax/open vowels instead of plural with "s". S-aspiration is general in all of the southern half of Spain, and now becoming common in the northern half too.

  • In many words final consonants are dropped. This does not really cause the previous vowel to open; e.g., , ('to eat'); , ('commercial'); , ('woman'); pared , ('wall'). This often gives rise to a situation where two different words sound exactly the same, as with the infinitive cortar ('to cut'), the imperative ¡cortad! ('cut [it]!') and the feminine past participle cortada, ('[a] cut thing'); which are all pronounced . The geographical extent of this consonant drops is variable, and in some cases, like final "d", common to most of Spain.

  • is deaffricated to including large cities like Sevillemarker. I.e. escucha, ('(s)he listens') is pronounced .

  • may be pronounced as before a consonant, as in instead of for alma ('soul'). The opposite may also happen, i.e. becomes .

  • Before and , may be either elided or aspirated. Thus, perla ('pearl') becomes either or , carne ('meat') becomes or , etc.

  • is usually pronounced except in some north-eastern areas (Jaénmarker province), where the dorsal is retained. This also happens in most of Extremaduramarker and parts of Cantabriamarker.

  • Before a , can be pronounced in two ways: it may be elided, thus leaving only the or it may be retained, intensifying the aspirated sound of the . Thus virgen ('virgin') becomes either or .

  • Words of Latin origin starting with "h" in writing (that is, that have kept the etymological 'H' in writing) are sometimes pronounced with an initial ) sound. This also occurs in the speech of Extremaduramarker. However, this characteristic is limited to rural areas and the flamenco culture.

Morphology and syntax

  • Many Andalusian speakers (especially in western parts) replace the informal second person plural vosotros with the (in other parts of Spain) more formal ustedes, often mixing the pronoun ustedes with the vosotros form of the verb. For example, the standard second person plural verb forms for ir ("to go") are vosotros vais (informal) and ustedes van (formal), but in Andalusian one often hears ustedes vais for the informal version.

  • The standard form of imperative, second person plural with a reflexive pronoun (vosotros) is -aos, or -aros in informal speech, whereas in Andalusian, and other dialects, too, -se is used instead, so ¡callaos ya! / ¡callaros ya! ("shut up!") becomes ¡callarse ya! and ¡sentaos! / ¡sentaros! ("sit down!") becomes ¡sentarse!.

  • The gender of some words may be changed, e.g. la calor for el calor ("the heat"), el chinche for la chinche ("the bedbug").


Many words of Mozarabic, Romani and Old Castilian origin occur in Andalusian which are not found in other dialects in Spain (but many of these may occur in South American dialects due to the greater influence of Andalusian there). For example: chispenear instead of standard lloviznar or chispear ("to drizzle"), babucha instead of zapatilla ("slipper"), chavea or antié for anteayer ("the day before yesterday").

Many words of Andalusi Arabic origin that have become archaisms or unknown in general Spanish can be found, together with multitude of sayings: eg. haciendo morisquetas (from the word morisco, meaning pulling faces and gesticulating, historically associated with Muslim prayers). There are some doublets of Arabic-Latinate synonyms with the Arabic form being more common in Andalusian like Andalusian alcoba for Standard habitación or dormitorio ("bedroom").

Social status

Andalusian is the language of Flamenco music. While its use is generalized across the classes of the Andalusian society, in the rest of Spain it lacks the prestige of the Castilian variant. This prejudice was particularly reinforced during the mass migrations which occurred in the fifties and sixties from rural areas of Andalusia and Extremadura to wealthier areas, particularly Madrid and Barcelona. An Andalusian accent is often the mark of comic characters. Often, Andalusians who want to succeed in the Spanish media learn to speak in the Castilian variant. A counter-example is Malaganianmarker actor Antonio Banderas, who keeps his accent in interviews and everyday life but switches to Castilian (considered the unmarked pronunciation) when playing roles not specifically Andalusian or when dubbing his Hollywoodmarker performances.


Some words pronounced in the Andalusian way have entered general Spanish with a specific meaning.Examples are juerga ("debauchery", or "partying") that is the Andalusian pronunciation of huelga (originally "period without work", now "work strike").The Flamenco lexicon incorporates many Andalusisms: cantaor, tocaor, bailaor which is another example of the dropped "d", example "cantador" becomes "cantaor" (where the same non-Flamenco-specific terms are cantante, músico, bailarín).

Llanito, the vernacular of the British overseas territory of Gibraltarmarker, mainly originates from British English and Andalusian among others.

See also


  1. Juerga in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
  2. Huelga in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.

External links


Further reading

  • Ropero Núñez, Miguel (1992): "Un aspecto de lexicología histórica marginado: los préstamos del caló" (en Cervantes Virtual)
  • Alvar, Manuel: A vueltas con el seseo y el ceceo (Alicante)
  • Guitarte, Guillermo L. (1992): "Cecear y palabras afines" (en Cervantes Virtual)

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