Due to massive emigration from Andalusia to the Spanish colonies in the Americas and elsewhere, most American Spanish dialects share some fundamental characteristics with Western Andalusian Spanish, such as the use of ustedes instead of vosotros for the second person plural, and seseo. Many varieties of Spanish, such as Canarian Spanish, Caribbean Spanish and other Latin American Spanish dialects, including their standard dialects, are considered[by whom?] as being based on Andalusian Spanish.
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.
Areas of Andalusia in which seseo (green), ceceo (red), or the distinction of c/z and s (white) predominate
Most Spanish dialects in Spain differentiate between the sounds represented in traditional spelling by 〈z〉 and 〈c〉 (before 〈e〉 and 〈i〉), pronounced /θ/, and that of 〈s〉, pronounced /s/. However, in many Andalusian-speaking areas, the two phonemes have merged as /s/, which is known as seseo/seˈseo/. In other areas, the two phonemes have merged as [s̄] (a sound close, but not identical to [θ]), which is known as ceceo (/θeˈθeo/).
In still other areas, the distinction is retained (distinción/distinˈθjon/). Ceceo predominates in more southerly parts of Andalusia, including the provinces of Cádiz, southern Huelva, most of Málaga and Seville (except the northern parts of both provinces and the city of Seville) and south-western Granada. 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 Málaga, Huelva and Granada (where, on the other hand one can also find distinción, depending on the neighbourhood) are enough proof to refute this.
Seseo predominates in Córdoba, northern Seville and Málaga and western Huelva. Interestingly, the cities of Seville and Cádiz are seseante, but entirely surrounded by ceceo areas; the city of Cádiz is the only area in the entire province of Cádiz, along with San Fernando (La Isla de León), that is not ceceante. Distinción is mostly found in the provinces of Almería, eastern Granada, Jaén, and the northern parts of Córdoba and Huelva. See map above for a detailed description of these zones. Outside Andalusia, seseo also existed in parts of Extremadura and Murcia up to at least 1940. The standard distinction which predominates in Eastern Andalusia is now to be heard in many cultivated speakers of the West, especially among younger speakers in urban areas or in monitored speech. The influence of media and school is now strong in Andalusia and this is eroding traditional seseo and ceceo.
Yeísmo, that is the merging of /ʎ/ into /ʝ/, is general in most of Andalusia. In Western Andalusian, /ʝ/ is an affricate [ɟʝ] in all instances, whereas in standard Spanish this realisation only occurs after a nasal or pause.
Intervocalic /d/ is elided in most instances, 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 Latin vīta[ˈwiːta], Italian vita[ˈvita], Brazilian Portuguese vida[ˈvidɐ] with a fully occlusive [d], European Portuguese vida[ˈviðɐ], Castilian Spanish vida[ˈbiða] with an interdental [ð] (as in English 〈th〉 in "this") and French vie[vi], where the /d/ is elided as in Andalusian (vida[ˈbi.a] 'life').
Similarly, intervocalic /ɾ/ is also elided, although this tends to occur only in certain environments. For example, parece becomes *paece ('it appears'), quieres becomes *quies ('you want') and padre and madre may sometimes *pae and *mae ('father' and 'mother', respectively). This feature can be heard in many other parts of Spain, too (such as para → *pa 'for').
Obstruents (/b d ɡ p t k f s x θ/) and sonorants (/r m n l/) often assimilate the place of articulation of the following consonant producing gemination (or aspiration); e.g. perla[ˈpe̞hla]~[ˈpe̞lːa] ('pearl'), carne[ˈkahne̞]~[ˈkãnːe̞] ('meat'), adquirí[ahkiˈɾi]~[akːiˈɾi] ('I acquired'), mismo[ˈmihmo̞]~[ˈmĩmːo̞] ('same'), desde[ˈdɛhðe̞]~[ˈdɛθːe̞] ('from'), rasgos[ˈrahɣɔh]~[ˈræ̞xːɔ] ('traits'). In Andalusian and Murcian Spanish syllable-final /s/ is very unstable; often assimilated to [ɸ] before /b/ (/sb/ → [hβ] → [hɸ] → [ɸː]), as in desbaratar → *effaratar[ɛhɸaɾaˈta]~[ɛɸːaɾaˈta] ('to ruin, to disrupt') or to [ɹ] (where ceceo or distinción occur) before /θ/ (/sθ/ → [ɹθ]), as in ascensor[aɹθẽ̞nˈso̞] ('lift').
Utterance-final /s/, /x/ and /θ/ (where ceceo or distinción occur) are usually aspirated (pronounced [h]) or deleted. In Eastern Andalusian dialects, including also Murcian Spanish, the previous vowel is also lowered. Thus, in these varieties one distinguishes la casa[la ˈkasa] ('the house') and las casas[læ̞(k) ˈkæ̞sæ̞] ('the houses') by a final deleted or aspirated /s/ and open vowels, whereas northern Spanish speakers would have [s] and [θ] and close vowels.
As a result, these varieties have five vowel phonemes, each with a tense allophone (roughly the same as the normal realization in northern Spanish; [a], [e̞], [i], [o̞], [u]) and a lax allophone ([æ̞], [ɛ], [i̞], [ɔ], [u̞]). In addition to this, a process of vowel harmony may take place where tense vowels that precede a lax vowel may become lax themselves; e.g. trébol[ˈtɾe̞βo̞l] ('clover, club') vs tréboles[ˈtɾɛβɔlɛ] ('clovers, clubs'). S-aspiration is general in all of the southern half of Spain, and now becoming common in the northern half too.
As in standard Spanish, phonetic vowel nasalization occurs for vowels occurring between nasal consonants or when preceding a syllable-final nasal. However, contrary to standard Spanish (where syllable-final nasal consonants are retained), in Andalusian varieties utterance-final nasals are often deleted; e.g. bien[ˈbjẽ̞] ('good').
Final consonants are dropped in many instances. This does not cause the previous vowel to lower; e.g. comer[ko̞ˈme̞] ('to eat'), comercial[ko̞me̞rˈθja] or [ko̞me̞rˈsja] ('commercial'), pared[paˈɾe̞] ('wall'). This often gives rise to a situation where two different words sound exactly the same, as with the infinitivecortar ('to cut'), the imperative¡cortad! ('cut [it]!') and the feminine past participle cortada, ('[a] cut thing'); which are all pronounced [ko̞rˈta]. The geographical extent of this consonant drop is variable, and in some cases, like final 〈d〉, common to most of Spain.
/tʃ/ is deaffricated to [ʃ] in Western Andalusia, including cities like Seville and Cádiz; e.g. escucha[ɛˈkuʃa] ('s/he listens').
/l/ may be pronounced as /r/ in syllable-final position, as in [ˈarma] instead of [ˈalma] for alma ('soul') or [e̞r] instead of [e̞l] for el ('the'). The opposite may also happen; i.e. /r/ becomes /l/ (e.g. sartén[salˈtẽ̞] 'frying pan').
/x/ is usually aspirated or pronounced [h] except in some eastern Andalusian subvarieties (i.e. Jaén, Granada, Almería provinces), where the dorsal [x] is retained. This also happens in most of Extremadura and parts of Cantabria.
Before [h] (Western Andalusian), /r/ can be pronounced in two ways: it may be elided, thus leaving only the [h] or it may be retained, intensifying the aspirated sound of the [h]. Thus, virgen ('virgin') becomes either [ˈbihẽ̞] or [ˈbirhẽ̞].
Words of Latin origin starting with 〈h〉 (originally 〈f〉) in writing (that is, that have kept the etymological 〈h〉 in writing) are sometimes pronounced with an initial [h] sound; e.g. Latin fartvs 'stuffed, full' → harto[ˈharto̞] (standard Spanish [ˈarto̞] 'fed up'). This also occurs in the speech of Extremadura. 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 not match that of Standard Spanish, e.g. la calor not el calor ('the heat'), el chinche not 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 and, especially, in Caribbean Spanish 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: e.g. 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') or alhaja for standard joya ('jewel').
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). Note that, when referring to the Flamenco terms, the correct spelling drops the "d" (a Flamenco cantaor is written this way, not cantador). In another cases, the dropped "d" may also be included as a real word. An example occurs with "pescaíto frito" (little fried fish), which in Standard Spanish is spelled "pescadito frito". However, the word is written without the "d" in many parts of Spain, but only when referring to the Andalusian version (in Andalusia, fried fish is really popular).
Lloret, Maria-Rosa (2007), "On the Nature of Vowel Harmony: Spreading with a Purpose", in Bisetto, Antonietta; Barbieri, Francesco, Proceedings of the XXXIII Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, pp. 15–35
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)