Archive for the ‘Español’ Category

Differences Between English-Spanish Pronunciation Part 3 - Diphthongs

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

This is my notes from the information found on 123teachme. There they also list example words with sound files.

A diphthong1 is formed in Spanish when the unaccented vowel i or u proceeds or follows another vowel, or a y follows a vowel. Attaching an i adds a "y" sound, attaching u adds a "w" sound.2

No diphthong is formed during a combination of two of the following vowels: a, e, o.

  1. two vowels glided together and pronounced within the same syllable []
  2. The Spanish y is said, i believe, with putting the tip of your tongue towards the bottom of your mouth by the gum of your bottom teeth. This is in contrast to English where the tip stays neutral or even goes up towards the roof of the mouth when making the "y" sound. []

Differences Between English-Spanish Pronunciation Part 2 - The Five Main Vowels

Friday, September 13th, 2019

This post is my notes from a more detailed write up from the "Mimic Method" which comes with visual and audio aids. This only contains information on monophthongs - details of diphthongs and triphthongs and will come in a future part in this series.

There are five vowel sounds, and the alphabetic letters are the same as their corresponding phonetic letter [a] [e] [i] [o] [u].

One of the main differences between the Spanish vowels and their English equivalents is that the Spanish vowels are "short and crisp." They do not glide/change to a different sound as you say them. If you put your lips/mouth in the correction position, hold them there, and then perform a voiced sound1, you will get the right sound without having to alter the initial articulation. This is in contrast to some English vowels, like the o in "no" which glides something like a "w" as you say it.

A - The tongue is low and center, lips unrounded. You need to draw your tongue/jaw lower than when you make the ah sound in English words (like pot)

E - The tongue is at middle height and forward, lips unrounded. Be careful not to glide it to a y as we do in many English words such as "hey" and "bay".

I - The tongue is high and forward, lips unrounded. It is pronounced like the e's in the English word see.

O - The tongue is back and center, lips rounded.2

U - The tongue is back and high, lips rounded. Once again make sure not to curl the lips while saying the vowel.

Common Gringo Mistakes:

1. Closing/reducing/changing vowels: A, O, E. Each of the five (lone) vowels sound the same no matter where they are located in a word. When a gringo says nada they may say nah-duh. But the correct pronunciation has the A vowel the same both before and after the d.

2. Gliding vowels. Vowels (by themselves) in Spanish are never diphthongs. They are short sounds with an articulation that remains constant.

3. Lip rounding of vowels. Don't have your o's and u's morph to w's, like they do in the English for the words "no" and "Sue".

  1. release air through your lungs while "vibrating" your throat, as one always does when making a vowel. []
  2. The lips being rounded is not all that important since the vowel is defined by the tongue position. You certainly shouldn't have your lips rounding as you say the word, as mentioned before with the word "no" []

Differences Between English-Spanish Pronunciation Part 1 - Differences in stops d k t p

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

This is part 1 of a series that goes through all of the major differences of pronunciation between Spanish and English. It assumes the reader knows a little bit of knowledge of phonetic1 lingo and knows some very basic Spanish pronunciation - like that i is pronounced ee as in see and that ll is pronounced like an English y. To begin:

d and t:

In English, d and t are both stops2 that are created by placing the tongue on the alveolar ridge.3 In Spanish, d and t are also stops, but they have a less forceful explosion of air, and the tongue blocks the airflow by being placed on the upper teeth instead of on the alveolar ridge. Relatedly, the stops in Spanish are not aspirated as they are in English.4 So in English we say tea [thi] en español se dice ti [ti].

p and /k/ (k or hard c):

p and /k/ have the same oral articulation in Spanish as they do in English. The difference is that -once again- in Spanish there is the release of air at the end of the stops is gentle and the stops are not aspirated.

  1. If you know nothing about phonetics or the IPA system I recommend A Practical Introduction to Phonetics by Catford - The book contains a series of exercises that helps you learn how to make sounds found in languages/accents from all over the world []
  2. A stop is a consonant where the sound is created by blocking airflow and then releasing upon pressure build up. In English, p and b are stops that block airflow via the lips, while k,t, and d block airflow with the tongue. []
  3. If you don't know what the alveolar ridge is, take a minute to gain some anatomy awareness by slowly dragging your tongue from your top teeth up to the roof of your mouth back and forth. Do this a few times to get the feel for the shape of your mouth. Then start again from the top teeth. Just as you pass the gums you will find your tongue along a ridge like shape. This is the alveolar ridge. You can also find the alveolar ridge by silently thinking and mouthing the word dad while paying attention to where your tongue is. []
  4. Aspiration is when there is a pause between the explosion of the stop and the onset of the vibration of the following vowel. To test if you are aspirating your ti in Spanish, do the following exercise: rest your finger gently on your adam's apple and say the English Tea. Notice the delay between when you hear the T and when your throat starts vibrating for the vowel i. Now do the same for the Spanish ti. You should have no delay between the t and the i []

No hace falta que se lo diga

Friday, August 30th, 2019

I saw the sentence in the title of this post in my Spanish version of For Whom The Bell TollsPor quién doblan las campanas. It took me a minute to grok the meaning, since there are a few different grammar concepts packed into the sentence. Let's go over them.

1. Hace falta. If something "hace falta"'s , it literally makes a fault, which means it is necessary.

2. Decir is conjugated in the first person subjective.  The change in subject between the clauses connected with the "que" in the impersonal expression1

3. Se is used for various different reasons in Spanish. In this case, it is being used as an indirect object pronoun. One would use "le" for the singular third person/formal 2nd person, but since the direct object pronoun "lo" immediately follows, the le is converted to se.

Put those together and given the context, the translates to : "I don't need to tell it to you."

  1. This comes from the I in the acronym English speakers are generally taught (WEIRDO) which tells of the various cases where one uses the subjunctive in Spanish - Wishes, Emotions, Impersonal Expressions, Recommendations, Doubt/Denial, Ojalá []