The Myth of the Castillian Spanish Lisp

By: Felicia Meadows

When it comes to learning Spanish there are generally two popular dialects to pick from, Spanish or Spanish (Spain). The Spanish spoken in Spain tends to be Castilian Spanish which has a pronounced th accent. A very popular myth surrounds this th accent referring to it as a lisp which could make learning this dialect all the more fun.

As the story goes there was once a king of Spain that was very loved and treasured by the people of Spain. The only problem was this king had a distinct lisp that forced him to speak with a th accent to his Spanish. Well the Spanish people loved their king so much that they slowly began to talk with a lisp as well to make the king more comfortable as well as to show their appreciation of him. Another version of the urban legend goes on to use a royal decree as the reason for the “lisp”.

As fantastic as this tale is, the dialect spoken in Spain is indeed not spoken with a lisp. In Spain, Castilian Spanish is the primary dialect that is spoken which is where this accent comes from. This dialect is rooted in a medieval Spanish that has always included this th accent that can be clearly heard in native speakers.

Even with this accent the basics of the Spanish language can still be understood. Quite a few places in Spain are actually bilingual and able to communicate in various dialects of Spanish. There are also a few word choice differences that are spoken in Spain versus other Spanish speaking countries. For example instead of using carro for car in Spain they tend to use coche. Even with these differences, Spanish will always be understood in a Spanish speaking country.

So when it comes to choosing which version of Spanish to learn it actually depends upon which region you intend to travel to. Or if you are a risk taker learning a new language for the fun of it then it would depend upon which dialect would interest you the most. For some, picking a language steeped in an urban legend just increases their interest in learning a new language.

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