vijayjohn wrote:I can't tell what "Latin American Spanish" is supposed to mean other than "not Castillian."
I agree with this. The popular tv shows, media, and so on are that are watched throughout Latin America nearly always have regional elements (vocabulary and grammar, not just accent) that mark them clearly as being Mexican, Argentine, or whatever. The scripts are usually written so that any Spanish-speaker can understand them, but that doesn't mean their viewers speak that way themselves. The same is true of written works. Mafalda, a popular comic strip, uses language that is very obviously
from Argentina and yet had great popularity throughout Latin America despite the fact that Mexican or Puerto Rican or Venezuelan readers of the comic strip would not speak that way.
The language-learning materials that claim to teach "Latin American Spanish" are usually a sort of generic non-Castillian Spanish stripped of most of the regionalisms that native speakers would use. Honestly, I think you would have a hard time finding any
native speaker who speaks Spanish the way those materials present it. They are meant for tourists and language-learners to be able get by and be understood, but that doesn't mean they present Spanish in a way that "native speakers across Latin America" actually speak because there isn't really any such thing.
dEhiN wrote:then why is Castillian Spanish and Latin American Spanish generally contrasted against each other, similiarly like European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. The Teach Yourself series even has a book called Teach Yourself Latin American Spanish.
While looking online to see if that book actually focuses on a specific country or countries, I came across this review
The book and tapes will teach you how the pronunciation and the meaning of some words differ from country to country on our American continent. It covers some of the basic unique features of the Argentinian and Chilean Spanish as well as some salient features of the Mexican Spanish, Venezuelan, Carribean, Peruvian, and Columbian Spanish. I have much enjoyed the audio-tapes. They are made with the native speakers from these various countries and will help you to comprehend some of the regional dialects of Latin-American Spanish.
In other words it seems that it does not actually attempt to teach a monolithic "Latin American Spanish" or even a generic variety stripped of regional elements, but attempts to cover a range of different
regional varieties in one book. And maybe not thoroughly enough... other reviews on the same page complain that
This is a step forward, but in my view is not enough. Within Latin America there are many differences... If we are serious about courses that really teach the language for the country where you go, we cannot iron out the differences
and from another reviewer
I have a problem with the fact that differences in the language of a number of countries are simply ironed out under the umbrella name of "Latin American Spanish". The language of, say, Costa Rica and that of Mexico have deep differences.
I haven't had the opportunity myself to look at the book, but I'm honestly not surprised by these reviews. Both the positive and negative reviews acknowledge the uniqueness of Spanish as spoken differently in various parts of Latin America and the difficulties of trying to cover them in a single book.