It’s a curious cultural phenomena that even though England and America share colonial origins and speak the same language, it is referred to as English. However, when it comes to Spain and Mexico, it’s not uncommon to hear non-natives refer to Mexican as the language spoken in that country even though, they actually speak Spanish as well. Both pairs of countries share the same kind of colonial ties, and both of them have preserved the language of the mother country, but many people still prefer to talk about Mexicans as speaking their own language while Americans themselves claim they speak English, and not American.
The truth of matter is that, as with English, these regions do speak the same language, but, over the centuries, many differences have arisen. As with British English and American English, the differences in accent are the most pronounced, but digging deeper, the Spanish that is now spoken in Mexico differs from that in Spain, as does the Spanish spoken in many other countries in the Americas, like Argentina and Chile.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone as even the Spanish within Spain itself has some major differences and not everyone within Spain calls the dominant Spanish dialect their mother tongue, even though that is the one that is officially recognized as the national language. Much in the same way that Welsh and Gaelic and other variants are spoken throughout the United Kingdom, in smaller regions, Spain also has dialects like Catalan and Galician.
One thing that is different about the ways in which Latin Americans and Spanish think of their language is the name for it. The Spanish largely refer to the language as Español, while many Latin American countries call the language Castellano, in reference to the Castile region that the language originates from.
One thing that is different about the ways in which Latin Americans and Spanish think of their language is the name for it.
It’s quite natural that there would be differences in the way Spanish is spoken between Mexico and Spain—and even Mexico and other Latin American countries—because all of these cultures and languages were isolated from each other by vast distances for centuries. The Spanish language changed and developed in many ways back in Spain that other countries didn’t follow up on. That’s a very different situation from today where slang term coined in America can be picked up instantly by other English speaking countries within hours thanks to television an Internet.
In Spain, for example, the language changed to the point where pronoun forms like “Voseo,” which is a way of addressing people as “you,” eventually fell out of fashion. However in countries like Uruguay and Argentina, the “vos” pronoun remained in active use, so some Spanish speakers from Europe often get caught off guard when they hear South American Spanish speakers use pronoun forms that haven’t been spoken in Spain in over 150 years.
There are also some vocabulary that differs widely between the versions of Spanish, like European speakers using the term “Ordenador” for computer, while Latin Americans prefer “Computadora.” In the same way, the people of Spain imitate the rest of Europe by calling their phones “Teléfono móvil,” or mobile phone, while Latin Americans call it a “Celular” phone, the same as their North American counterparts.
In the end, the languages are similar enough that Spanish speakers all over the world can roughly understand each other. But differences in accent and vocabulary can—as with English—cause some major differences in the way these languages are understood and used.