Is the Spanish language the same in all Latin America?

Probably, you have wondered, if in Mexico, Argentina or Colombia people speak the same Spanish.

Well, as a “latina”, who has lived and traveled in several Latin American countries, I can tell you that we speak the same Spanish.

The Real Academia Española, generally abbreviated as RAE, is the official royal institution responsible for overseeing the Spanish language. This Spanish is considered the correct, traditional and most pure variety of Spanish.  You can find Spanish vocabulary meaning and grammar in the Dictionary of Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy or DRAE.

Most people from North America, Europe or Asia who want to learn Spanish or get immersed in the Latino culture to practice it, don’t know or are not aware of the different accents, pronunciations and use of different expressions and words among all Latino countries as well as its cities.  After spending several months living in Chile and then upon traveling to another Latino country one may realize that the Spanish accent, words and expressions they have learned aren’t used where they are now.

Think about English spoken in United States, England, Canada, and other countries.  The accents all sound pretty different and different expressions and words are used as well, but it’s still the same language.

There is also Colloquial Peruvian Spanish, colloquial Mexican Spanish, colloquial Chilean Spanish, etc.  Even for myself, who was born and raised talking Spanish, had to learn to “speak” Argentinian Spanish and Colombian Spanish when I was living in those countries – not because it is a different language, but because you want to understand and use the “everyday words and expressions” as you immersed yourself in their respective cultures.

And don’t forget about slang as those words and expressions are hard to learn and mostly use among different groups, such as teenagers or people in different social classes.   Slang expressions are different in each country as well.

Language is especially important in marketing when referring to marketing materials as those are creative, culture-based and focused on targeted, highly relevant communication.

You may hardly notice the use of “different” Spanish when reading or watching the news.  The vocabulary used in the news is highly formal Spanish and the accent most newsmen use to read the news is “standard” among all Spanish accents.  What does this mean?   That the accent, pronunciation, and vocabulary used is appropriate and understandable for most speakers.

Are there some ways to “categorize” certain types of Spanish speakers?  I can tell you what I’ve heard: Peruvians and Colombians have the slower, clearer, and more “standard” or neutral Spanish, while some people feel Argentinians speak a faster form of the language.

So the question: Is the formal Spanish language the same in all Latin America?

The answer is yes.  Formal Spanish is the same for all Latin American countries; It has the same structure and grammar.  But people from every country have different accents, pronunciation and use a very wide range of vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and slangs.

Watch this video to listen to some funny Spanish accents.

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Looking for Marketing data in Latin America? You better read this

When looking for data for your marketing campaign, where would you look for?

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It depends on the type of data you are trying to collect to achieve your marketing objectives:

  • You might be looking for data to achieve market penetration in a new market.
  • You might be looking for consumer data or business data.
  • You might be looking for consumer emails data for your email campaign
  • You might be looking for business contact names data to offer your product.

How do you know where to find this data and how do you know if the data comes from a trusted source that follows country legal regulations to collect it?

If you want to start a marketing campaign in Latin America, and you need to get consumer or business data, you can find several companies, data providers, that follow the applicable law in their home countries.

Every data provider offers similar, but not the same, type of data.  They collect data from different sources and offer different data element coverage.

They also offer different services, like data hygiene, data enrichment, credit scoring, email marketing, telemarketing, prospecting, geo-prospecting, among others.

Some are global and very well known like Experian, a company that is based in several countries in Latin America and offers similar services among those countries (each country has its own particular constraints), while others are local but very well known in their own countries.

If you are looking for some references, in country DMA (Direct Marketing Association), AMDIA (Argentinian Interactive, direct Marketing Association), DIRECTA (Mexican Direct Marketing Association), are good sources to review.

It is important to consider that you might need to work with more than one data provider to meet all your marketing data needs.

It is also important to know that you would need to communicate in Spanish since not all of them would have someone to communicate with you in English.  You also need to consider the cultural nuances for each country you are interested in contact, even to make business, as every country has its own peculiarity.

My recommendation is to work with someone local to help you address with Spanish communication as well as cultural and business local knowledge.

Business trip in Latin America…working and having fun?

Nowadays a lot of people have to travel because of work.  You can travel inside your country or overseas; it doesn’t really matter, the routine is pretty much the same: you work and you look to do some tourism if you have the time.

I have lived and worked in 3 countries in South America and had the chance to explore those countries while on vacation or any long weekend holiday (which we have a lot!, although Argentina wins the gold in that area).

But I also have traveled through Latin America because of work, looking for business opportunities, and exploring the country is not part of the deal.  Does it sound familiar?

The business trip started with previous research to find out the best way to get from the airport to the hotel.  In almost all Latin American countries, you will find taxi companies at the airport so you can take a safe ride to get to the hotel.  In a city like Buenos Aires, you will find companies that offer private bus rides to principal places inside the city (mostly downtown); in other cities, like Bogota, you find public transportation just leaving the airport.  Another option is to hire a private driver, it can be more expensive but if you need to deal with traffic jams in a crowded city, like Sao Paulo, you can save time to get wherever you need to go.

Once you are settled in Hotel, the routine starts:  breakfast business meetings, office business meetings, lunch business meetings, dinner business meetings and if you still have time and energy maybe some drinks before you go to bed, to start all over again the next day.

Meetings can be done in Spanish, spanglish or English (mostly inside large companies), so you have the chance to practice your Spanish if you are still learning, but if you’re not, be aware on having someone to help you with the language.

If your trip includes a weekend, and you don’t have much work to do, go ahead and explore the city.

If language is not a barrier for you, take a break from taxis and take public transportation.  In cities like Lima and Bogota public transportation can be tricky;  you would need to ask someone local which bus to take to get where you want to go, but in cities like Buenos Aires, Medellin, Mexico DF or Sao Paulo, you can take the subway, this way you will have the chance to experience tourism in a different way.

My advice, if you are in Buenos Aires go to Tigre and take a boat trip through the river;  if you are in Bogota go out of the hotel on Sunday morning and join thousands of people out in the street for a walk, run or bike and later that day visit the Usaquen flea market.

Santiago offers a different scenario:  you can get to the beach or to the high hills to ski (during winter of course), in an hour more or less, by bus or with a private transportation.  It is easy and fast to change the city view.

Last but not least, if you have a weekend in Lima and want to visit Machu Picchu (which is in Cusco), my advice is to plan your trip when you have more time than 2 days available because you will need to take a flight to Cusco, take the morning train to Machu Picchu, stay there for a few hours, take the train back and take a flight back to Lima… you will miss to visit Cusco city and other ancient attractions and be very tired to go back to work.