Bleg: Varieties of Spanish

Neville Ryant and I are experimenting with the use of audiobooks to study linguistic variation. As a contribution to that research, we'd like to ask Spanish-speaking readers to give their opinions about fifteen short samples, using an interactive survey posted here.

1. Rosa Cano Lorente said,

May 12, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

I filled one out but I'm afraid I wasn't of much help. I am from Spain I can't distinguish very well the accents in South America. And the accents from Spain sounded, most of them, very neutral.

2. Tristan said,

May 12, 2016 @ 3:54 pm

Mark,

I apologize for hijacking the comment section of this post, but I don't know a better way to contact you at this point. In 2014 you drafted a blog post regarding the CVSA and a study that was allegedly published in 2012 pertaining to its accuracy. I have a question for you on the CVSA and the referenced study. If you have a few minutes would you mind getting back with me? Thanks.

3. cameron said,

May 12, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

It strikes me as a bit odd that the instructions to this survey are given in English.

[(myl) Lo siento — we were in a hurry and I figured English was better than maybe-mistaken Spanish.]

4. Rubrick said,

May 13, 2016 @ 12:23 am

I'm unqualified for the Spanish, but this was (surprisingly?) my first exposure (that I noticed) to bleg.

5. pjrt said,

May 13, 2016 @ 3:11 am

Filled it out, but like my Spaniard counterpart above, not sure how much help I was.
I'm caribbean, but I have a hard time differentiating a lot of mainland accents (Central + South America). I can recognize the Spaniard and Argentinian ones due to the iconic z sound, and the Mexican from their cultural output in Latin America, but everyone else is pretty hard to differentiate.

6. Catanea said,

May 13, 2016 @ 6:02 am

I started it. I'm quite fond of detecting accents in Spanish; and seem to be (at least) better at it than my husband. But I found that the read language was too different from the spoken language. People talking are easier to identify than people reading. So I abandonned it. (I am not at all accustomed to radio, television, or any other sources than live humans and cinema.)

7. Coby Lubliner said,

May 13, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

To me it sounded as if the 15 readers, all of whom are probably well educated and trained actors, announcers or the like, were evenly divided among Argentinians (2,3,4,6,14), Mexicans (8,9,12,13,16) and Spaniards (5,7,10,11,15).

8. Coby Lubliner said,

May 13, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

But I should add that the ones that I took for Argentinians or Mexicans did not, with some exceptions, have the characteristic intonation one would expect in casual speech.

9. helq said,

May 13, 2016 @ 4:14 pm

As I progressed item by item I found myself with less and less motivation to continue giving "extensive" (more than one sentence) comments about their accents or speaking styles. Because it was (also) really hard for me to distinguish the different kinds of accents (I'm Colombian, and mostly untrained to other accents). Most accents in the recordings sounded quite neutral to me, and the ones that I could recognize (I think) I did because they were quite stereotypical (one Spanish and one Argentinian).

I think, I could be a good idea to ask for the answerer's living location. It's probably no the same for me as for others whose accents where covered in the recordings.

PS: next time, it could be useful to have a feedback field at the end of the survey, so we could give you feedback there and not here on the blog ;)

10. Jota said,

May 14, 2016 @ 1:48 am

Native speaker here (Venezuelan). I listened to the first 5-6 recordings. I don't know the exact nature of your research , so please take this as a potential unhelpful comment. As mentioned by several commenters before this is an exercise in frustration .
The reading of formal text by trained speakers neutralize the accents a lot. And eliminates any other idiosyncrasy (slang, interjections, etc). You can barely distinguish some accents (peninsular vs latin-american). I think this is equivalent to try to find socio-cultural differences among anchors of national news channels based only on how they read a teleprompter.

11. Fernando Colina said,

May 15, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

I second the other comments. All these speakers are trying hard to hide their own accents in the interest of speaking "international" Spanish. I was looking forward to hearing Caribbean Spanish (Cuban, Puerto Rico etc) but if there was any of these speakers they were good at hiding their origins.