The difference between ‘Castellano’ and ‘Canario’

As mentioned in The Canarian Accent the locals have a different accent to the mainland Spaniards, and speak differently to the way most foreign Spanish speakers were taught at school, in its traditional form pronouncing the ‘c’s and ‘z’s properly and finishing plural forms with ‘s’s.

So why do the locals here pronounce the ‘c’s and ‘z’s like an ‘s’ in the middle of a word and cut out the last ‘s’ of every word? The answer, it seems, lies in the fact that the original Canarian people were not at all Spanish to start with, they were in fact a people who lived in the mountains, in cave houses, and by the time Christopher Columbus arrived on Gran Canaria, they were intermingling with the new Spanish arrivals having repelled many previous attempts by the Danes and Dutch to conquer the island. Spanish, for most native Canarians, was not a native language and so thereby subject to many outside influences as the population slowly learned to understand their new conquerors.

Many will be surprised to learn from some of the history of the islands, the words we use and the foods we eat, just how connected The Canaries are to many better known cultures including the British. For instance, one colloquial word used among the local youths is ‘tifar‘ meaning to steal and actually comes directly from the English word ‘thief’.

British people have been travelling to the Canary Islands since the sixteenth century. Shakespeare makes references to Canarian wines in his plays including Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor & Twelfth Night.

The district of Las Palmas known as Ciudad Jardin (Garden City) was the main residential area for the British settlers on Gran Canaria around the end of the nineteenth century.

In the very early twentieth century the shopping street known as Triana, in Las Palmas, had the vast majority of it’s signs in English, and according to the Canary Islands review 1903 locals had to have an ‘elementary knowledge of the English language or lose business’.

To this day, on their birthdays, Canarians blow out candles on their ‘queque’ and use a ‘naife’ to cut it into slices!

The contribution that English has been making towards the vocabulary of the Canary Islands over the centuries should never be underestimated. Finding out that Canary Islands Spanish is distinct from Castillian Spanish (primary language of the state) is a great step to understanding new things about the place, it may even help you to feel a stronger connection with your surroundings, engage better with the locals and even help you make a difference in the community.

 

Other have successfully adapted to the language before you, what are you waiting for?

 

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