I regularly listen to the language-focused podcast produced as an offshoot of PRI's The World. I find linguistics and language-learning generally fascinating, but I'm obviously even more interested when the show features Spanish-related content.
This week's show led with a story on the Spanish spoken in Bogotá (qué casualidad) and its status, in the eyes of many, as the clearest/most crisp Spanish. Se dice que es un español bastante neutro -- it's described as being pretty neutral. As such, it's not just a great variety for students to begin learning but Bogotá has become a popular place for Latin American companies to base their call centers (in other parts of Colombia people speak with more of a Caribbean accent, which is more difficult for a lot of learners to comprehend).
It's a bad idea to start talking to Latinos about the "best" Spanish, but I do think that the Spanish spoken in Bogotá is about as good as it gets. The capital cities of Ecuador and Perú also are home to pretty clear Spanish, especially among the formally educated. As much as I love Spain, the accents throughout birthplace of the language are typically tough for many students (as is the accent in Argentina, with its Italianized cadence and voseo, and in Mexico, where the slang, especially in Mexico City, can be overwhelming).
The World's story was interesting, but for the love of God, people reporting on (commonly spoken) languages really should have at least a fundamental understanding of that language. It drives me crazy when people perpetuate the myth that Spaniards pronounce every 's' sound as a 'th.' Sure enough, this reporter, in making a point about the difference between Latin American and Iberian Spanish, mentioned that zapatos would be pronounced thapatoth in Spain, when it would actually be pronounced thapatos. Z and c = th, but s = s.
Also mentioned in the podcast: The soon-to-be-released book What if Latin America Ruled the World? Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, a Colombian who teaches law at the University of London, argues that "few people have noticed that with Spanish language and culture in the ascendant the US is quietly but quickly becoming the next Latin American country." In the book, which comes out in the fall, he says the next Obama is likely to be Latino. In the podcast, he brought up the totally insane way the GOP is ignoring demographic trends and pushing an anti-immigration agenda despite the knowledge that, even if the borders were closed today, the country's population will be majority-minority by the middle of this century (and, of course, the group with the most dramatic gain is expected to be Latinos). Locos.