spanish words

Spanish: SAS vs. SES ("Castilian")

Spanish is a complex language that has developed over hundreds of years and has many dialects and variations. Two of the most common variations of Spanish are Standard American Spanish (SAS) and Standard European Spanish (SES). Although they share much of the same vocabulary, there are some major and minor differences between each variation of the language.

Standard European Spanish is also known as “Castilian” Spanish and is spoken in Spain. Standard American Spanish is spoken mainly in Latin America. The two have a common origin, but SAS diverged from Castilian Spanish when Europeans left Spain and began to settle in the Americas.

Some words are the same in both types of Spanish, with the main difference being intonation and speed. Some vocabulary is markedly different, however, such as conducir (SES) and manejar (SAS) which both mean “to drive.” Even the modes of address are sometimes different in each language. Castilian Spanish speakers use both vostros and ustedes to address more than one person, but speakers in Latin America only use ustedes.

Each variation of Spanish also has its own slang and distinct pronunciation, making an accurate and easily understandable transcription even more important when learning to pronounce sentences, songs, and other writings in a specific Spanish dialect.

In Castilian Spanish, for example, a “c” that comes before an “i” or “e” is pronounced as [θ] but in Standard American Spanish, it is pronounced as [s]. The word gracias would therefore be pronounced as [gɾasias] in Latin America, but as [gɾaθias] in Spain. Another clear distinguisher comes with the letter “z,” which would be pronounced [z] in SAS but [ð] in SES. These differences may be small, but mastery of the minute details can lead to a better overall grasp of the language.

In an effort to achieve correct performance practice, it behooves vocalists to research the specific origin of the Spanish texts they are singing to know whether SAS or SES is applicable. Once you know which version of Spanish you need, our IPA transcription app can be of great help because it allows you to choose whether you want the IPA transcribed to reflect SAS or SES.

in Diction