World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Peruvian Spanish


Peruvian Spanish

Peruvian Spanish has been spoken in Peru since 1532. There are four varieties spoken in the country, by about 80% of the population.


  • History 1
  • Peruvian dialects 2
    • Andean Spanish 2.1
      • Principal characteristics 2.1.1
    • Peruvian coast Spanish 2.2
      • Characteristics 2.2.1
    • Andean-Costal Spanish or neolimeño 2.3
      • Characteristics 2.3.1
    • Amazonic Spanish 2.4
    • Equatorial Spanish 2.5
  • References 3


The Spanish language first arrived in what is today Peru in 1532. During colonial and early republican times, the Spanish spoken colloquially in the coast and in the cities of the highland possessed strong local features, but as a result of dialect leveling in favor of the standard language, the language of urban Peruvians today is more or less uniform in pronunciation throughout most of the country.[1] Vestiges of the older dialect of the coast can be found in the speech of black Peruvians, which retains Andalusian features such as the aspiration or deletion of final /s/ and the deletion of final /r/. The dialect of Arequipa in its pure form is now extinct, although some elders are familiar with it. Incidentally, Peruvian Spanish is the purest form of old Spanish in the world.

Throughout most of the highland, Quechua continued to be the language of the majority until the mid 20th century. [2] Mass migration (rural exodus) into Lima starting in the 1940s, and into other major cities and regional capitals later on, accompanied by discrimination and the growth of mass media, have reconfigured the linguistic demography of the country in favor of Spanish. The poor urban masses originating in this migration adopted the standardized dialect spoken in the cities, however with traces of Andean pronunciation and a simplified syntax.

Peruvian dialects

Andean Spanish

Andean Spanish the most common dialect in the Andes (more marked in rural areas) and has many similarities with the "standard" dialect of Ecuador and Bolivia.

Principal characteristics

The phonology of Andean Peruvian Spanish is distinguished by its slow time and unique rhythm (grave accent), assibilation of /r/ and /ɾ/, and an apparent confusion of the vowels /e/ with /i/ and /o/ with /u/. (In reality, they are producing a sound between /e/ and /i/, and between /o/ and /u/.[3]) Furthermore, the "s" (originally apical and without aspiration) is produced with more force than that of the coast; this is also generally true of the other consonants, at the loss of the vowels. Other distinctive features are the preservation of /ʎ/, sometimes hypercorrective realization of /ʝ/ as [ʎ], and the realization of velar plosives as a fricative [x].

The morphosyntactic characteristics are typical:

  • Confusion or unification of gender and number
A ellas lo recibí bien.. La revista es caro.
  • Confusion or unification of gender and number
esa es su trenza del carlos.
  • Overuse of the diminutives –ito e –ita
Vente aquicito.. Sí, señorita, ahí están sus hijos.
Lo echan la agua. Lo pintan la casa
  • Duplication of the possessives and objects
Su casa de Pepe.. Lo conozco a ella.
  • The absence or redundant use of articles
Plaza de Armas es acá. La María está loca.
Todo caerá en su encima
  • The use of "no más" and "pues" after the verb
Dile nomás pues.
  • The use of the verb at the end of the phrase
Está enojada dice.
  • The use of the simple tense to express the preterite and of the indicative in place of the subjunctive in subordinates.

Peruvian coast Spanish

Coastal Spanish is spoken throughout the coast. It has the reputation (in pronunciation) of being one of the "purest" dialects in all of coastal Latin America because it does not debuccalize /s/ between vowels and retains the fricatives [x] and [χ].[4][5][6] It is the characteristic dialect as perceived abroad and has the reputation of being the base of "normal" or standard Peruvian Spanish.[7]


  • The vowels are stable and clear.
  • /r/ and /ɾ/ are pronounced clearly, without any fricativization.
  • /s/ is more often laminal than apical, and debuccalized to [h] in front of most consonants (though it is [x] before /k/). It is retained as [s] in final position (as opposed to in Chile or Andalucia).
  • /x/ varies between [x] and [χ]; it is never [h].
  • Word-final nasals are velar (not alveolar like in Mexico or central Spain).
  • The final /d/ is normally elided, but sometimes devoiced as [t] in formal speech.
  • Yeísmo exists, the phoneme occurring as [ʝ] and [j] interchangeably, and as palato-alveolar [dʒ] in initial position by some speakers.
  • The tendency to eliminate hiatus in word with an -ear suffix.

General Spanish phrases from the Americas are common but there are also phrases that originate in the Lima coastal area, such as frequent traditional terms and expressions; the most ingrained "quechuaism" in common speech is the familiar calato, meaning "naked".

Andean-Costal Spanish or neolimeño

Born in the most recent 30–50 years with a mixture of the speech of Andean migrants and the speech of Lima. This dialect is the speech that is most typical of Peru.


Characteristics Example Coastal/Lima Spanish Neolimeño Spanish
No assibilation of /r/ and /ɾ/ except in the older generations, but the articulation of these two sounds is weakened, and the final syllable is silent in internal contexts.
Closed and lax emission of vowels in general.
Confusion between /e/ and /i/ as well as /o/ and /u/ in casual speech.
Weakening, sometimes to the point of elimination, of the consonant sounds /b/, /d/, /ɡ/ and /ʝ/ when in intervocalic contexts. aguanta [a'gwaŋ.ta] [a'waŋ.ta]
dado ['da.ðo] [ˈda.o]
mantequilla [maŋ.te'ki.ɟa] [maŋ.te'ki.a]
baboso [βa'] [βa'ɤ.sɤ]
Strong pronunciation of "s", or with a weak whistling; less aspiration before consonants (articulated more like Spanish /x/ in front of /k/) asco [ah'ko] [ax'ko]
Voicing of voiceless consonants. pasajes [pa'sa.xes] [pa'sa.ɣes]
fósforo ['ɾo] ['fos.βo.ɾo]
época ['e.po.ka] ['e.βo.ka]
Accelerated speech and with varied intonation based on Andean Spanish.

This dialect has the usual Andean syntactics, like lack of agreement in gender and number, the frequent use of diminutives or augmentatives, loísmo, double possessives and ending phrases with "pues", "pe" or "pue".

As far as the lexicon is concerned, there are numerous neologisms, influences from Quechua, and slang among the youth often heard in the streets.

Amazonic Spanish

This dialect has developed uniquely, with contact from Andean Spanish and the Spanish of Lima with the Amazonian languages. It has a distinctive tonal structure.

Phonetically it is characterized by:

  • The sibilant /s/ resisting aspiration
  • A confusion of /x/ with /f/ (always bilabial)
For example, San Juan becomes San Fan
  • There is occlusion of the intervals /b, d, g/ in tonal ascension with aspiration and lengthening of the vowels.
  • /p, t, k/ are pronounced with aspiration
  • The /ʝ/ tends to become an affricate (as opposed to Coastal Peruvian Spanish)
  • Also, there is assibilation and weak trills.

On the other hand, the syntactic order most recognized is the prefixation of the genitive:

De Antonio sus amigas

There are also disorders of agreement, gender, etc.

Equatorial Spanish

Dialect map of Ecuador and Peru.

This dialect is spoken in the region of Tumbes.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jorge Pérez et al., Contra el prejuico lingüístico de la motosidad: un estudio de las vocales del castellano andino desde la fonética acústica, Lima: Instituto Riva Agüero. PUCP, 2006
  4. ^
  5. ^ Tadeo Hanke, Carácter, genio y costumbres de los limeños, 1801, Concejo Provincial de Lima, 1959, p.50
  6. ^ Rafael Lapesa, Historia de la lengua española, Editorial Gredos, 1981
  7. ^
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.