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Table of contents Chapter 1 1.1 pronunciation of single letters

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  1.1 Pronunciation of single letters: c, ch, g, j, h, ñ, r, t, v, b, x, z


First of all, welcome to the course. As you can see we will start in the very beginning with the pronunciation of Spanish. Don't worry, it's quite easy and you'll find throughout the manual spoken language to learn also the pronunciation.

In general one could say that Spanish pronunciation follows certain rules and does have only a few unusual sounds in the language. One challenge will be the vocals another some of the consonants.

  The vowels are
Spanish example of phonetic sound
a short: cup, long: barn
e short: pet, long: pair
i short: pit, big, long: bee
o short: pot, long: born
u short: put, long: poor

English knows many ways of pronouncing a vowel. We are not even talking about the different English dialects (thinking about Irish English vs. Western American) but also within one dialect of the language there are many possibilities. Spanish is easy in the way that the vowels do not change the way they are pronounced.

However, vowels always work with consonants. To have them all in one place they are:
b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, ñ, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z.
Good news is there is only one new consonant: ñ but we will come back to this one a bit later.

Another good news is that most of them are pronounced the same as in English:
d, f, k, l, m, n, p, q, s, t, x
There are only seven left, about which we have to care.

One short note still: There are differences between Spanish and Southern American spoken language. We will - whenever possible - refer to these differences.

The first consonant we have to look at is the c. Before an e or an i it is pronounced like the English th. In Southern America and in the region of Andalusia the c is pronounced rather a simple s. But since most Emigrants to Southern America came from Andalusia this does not really surprise. Which one is the ultimately right way of pronouncing cannot be discussed here. Just do as it suits you or the one you are talking to does. Main thing is anyway to start talking regardless the question what is right or wrong.

  c

cebolla = onion 
 
 Spanish pronunciation
 Southern American pronunciation

cigarrillo = cigarette 
 
 Spanish pronunciation
 Southern American pronunciation

  z
the sound of z is identical to the sound of ci or ce.

Zaragoza = Zaragoza (town in northern Spain) 
 
 Spanish pronunciation
 Southern American pronunciation

  g with a, o, u

The consonant g in combination with a, o and u is as we see a g like in gamble, gig, gag, gourmet.


guerra = war 
gordo = fat 

  gü

gü is very the very seldom case the u after the g is spoken as well. This combination is quite rare in the Spanish language.


cigüeña = stork 

  g with e and i
The consonant g is quite difficult to pronounce since it is a throat-sound that is not very often used in English language. The sound that is closest to the real Spanish g is loch of Loch Ness. It's identical with the consonant j.

gitano = gipsy 
 incorrect (common way of pronunciation)

gente = people 

  g - summary

g is a g like in gag, gig or gamble when after the g follows an a, o or u.
g is a g like in gag, gig or gamble with a spoken
u after the g when the spelling is gü.
g is spoken like
ch in Loch Ness after the g follows an e or an i.


  j

   j is pronounced identical to g in combination with e and i (ge, gi)


Jaime = Jaime (Span. Name) 

  h
h is easy to be pronounced in Spanish - it is not pronounced at all. Just pretend it is not there then everything is done correctly.

harina = flour 
zanahoria = carrot 

  ñ
The only consonant that does not exist in the English alphabet is ñ (n with tilde). It looks different but it is easy to pronounce like Enya (the singer)

el niño = child 

  r & rr

Depending on where you come from the r & rr might cause most of the difficulties. First it is a rolling r and second it is a difference also in the meaning whether there is one or two r.


trabajar = to work 
 simple r

pero= but 
perro = dog 

  t
Again it depends on different regions where you might come from. For some the t might be a bit difficult because in Spanish it is softer and spoken close to the front teeth. But this is one of the very tiny things that will be learned with time easily.

todo = all 
 
 hard pronunciation
 soft Spanish pronunciation

  v

The Spanish v is slightly different from the English one. The English is formed by putting the teeth on the lower lip and pushing air through the lips. The Spanish is softer. Think a b, like in beer and then do not close the lips put leave a little room for the air to flow through them. Then you have a Spanish v.


volar = to fly 
vino = wine 

  b

b and v are in the Spanish world of sound identical. Therefore you can here practice the same: Think an English b like in bumblebee and leave a little room between the lips. The fact that b and v are identical may cause some confusion later on when you hear something and you cannot be sure which consonant of the two is to be use.


beber = to drink 

  y

If y stands without a vowel it is simply spoken like in baby.


Madrid y Barcelona = Madrid and Barcelona 

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