Advertisement

Why are Spaniards so 'loud'?

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Why are Spaniards so 'loud'?
Many argue the party-loving happy-go-lucky south is louder than the rainier and more reserved north. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

Foreigners, including Spanish speakers from Latin America, often find it surprising how loudly Spaniards tend to speak. So is there a reason for this or is it just a stereotype?

Advertisement

Spain is a noisy country, and many would argue that so are its people.

Overhearing conversations rarely involves any eavesdropping, because everyone from children to old ladies tends to speak at a higher volume than English speakers, for example. 

While it may be a stereotype, you will struggle to find a foreigner in Spain who argues that Spaniards are by and large soft-spoken mumblers. 

Some may find this trait annoying, others just part of the passion and joyfulness of the Spanish character. 

But why is it that Spaniards are generally quite loud?

We have not been able to find any official studies which measure the volume of different languages, but there are plenty of theories regarding factors that could contribute to the loudness of Spaniards. 

First of all, Spain is widely regarded as one of the noisiest countries in the world (second globally in 2016 according to the World Health Organisation). 

In 2022, a survey by Money.co.uk saw respondents rank Madrid as the fourth noisiest city in Europe, but there are plenty of other cities in Spain which are just as ear-splitting. 

READ ALSO: Which cities are the noisiest in Spain?

Advertisement

So that would address the notion that because Spanish cities are noisy - and 80 percent of Spaniards live in urban areas - they need to speak up to be heard. What else?

Ten percent of the Spanish population has hearing problems, and as 60 percent of them don’t wear a hearing aid, it could be assumed that many aren’t aware of how loud they’re being. 

There’s also the fact that Spanish is a language that’s spoken fast, which could contribute to the general sense of rampant and clamorous speech. 

In a scientific study published in September 2019 by Scientific Advances magazine, researchers found that Spanish was only second to Japanese in terms of the rate of syllables spoken per second.

However, most Latin Americans speak Spanish and they are equally surprised by the loud volume with which Spaniards speak (wondering at first if they’re being told off) so it can’t just be a case of the speed at which Spanish is spoken. 

READ MORE: Why it's true that Spaniards talk faster than English speakers (but there is a catch)

Advertisement

Then there are those who suggest that Spanish loudness is due to group habits, such as interrupting each other or talking over one another, or having two or three conversations between different group members at the same time, all of which is perfectly socially acceptable in Spain.  

Children may learn as well that to be heard, one has to raise their voice. 

Is it the same across all regions in Spain? Many argue the party-loving happy-go-lucky south is louder than the rainier and more reserved north. 

READ ALSO: The good, the bad and the ugly - What are the regional stereotypes across Spain?

If you take Spaniards out of Spain and put them together in another country - whether it be on Erasmus or a Spanish pensioners’ holiday - this same social loudness trend is often observed, making it easy for others to spot the Spaniards in the crowd.

Talking loudly in public may be considered rude in some cultures, but not in Spain. In fact, you’re more likely to be told to speak up than you are to lower your voice.

From a Spanish perspective one could therefore argue that it’s not Spaniards who shout, but everyone else who is too soft spoken. It’s all about perspective after all, right?

READ ALSO: Spaniards have 'herd mentality' rather than being free thinkers, study

On a handful of forums such as Quora or Reddit, several people have asked if they’re the only ones that find any language other than English louder, or foreign languages as a whole. 

One Danish Reddit user commented that compared to their native tongue, English sounded loud. 

The idea that Spaniards are overall quite loud is of course a stereotype, but one that does hold more truth than other clichés such as that they’re lazy and corrupt. 

Raising one’s voice to be heard is simply part of the culture and the sociable, assertive and unconcealed nature of Spaniards.

READ ALSO: 12 sure-fire ways to offend a Spaniard

 

More

Comments (1)

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Keith Wyatt 2023/08/02 23:02
I thought it stemmed from the Franco era when if you were speaking quietly you were thought to be plotting something

See Also