Transferring linguistic habits – Spanish
Listen to Hispanics attempt to say the English word, ‘yes’. Many pronounce it as
‘jes’, as in the word, ’jest’. Do they have equivalent sounds in the Spanish language that will bring them closer to a correct pronunciation? Yes, they do. The letter ‘I’ in virtually all the European languages other than English pronounce it as ‘ee’. If they say that and add the sound ‘es’, they will be closer to the correct English pronunciation. In English of the word, ‘yes’ glide into each other and are a bit more constricted with the tongue raised more against the palate than in Spanish ‘I’, but it will be a lot closer to correct English pronunciation than ‘jes’!
When an Hispanic says the word ‘you’, it often comes out as ‘Jew’. Again, if they say the Spanish ‘I’ and add the Spanish ‘u’, i.e. ‘oo’ as in ‘too’, they will be closer to the correct pronunciation.
If an Hispanic would say ‘I adore her’, the ‘d’ will sound like ‘th’ in the word ‘those’ because of the Spanish rule of how a ‘d’ is pronounced when occurring between two vowels. Consequently, the English speaking person will pronounce the Spanish word, ‘nada’ (nothing) with a ‘d’ as in the word ‘nod + ‘a’. So English speaking people have to overcome that obstacle.
Trying to learn all the rules of pronunciation for the foreign language that you are studying can become very tedious. Listen, and listen carefully and mimic and your pronunciation will improve considerable.
The Spanish letter ‘ll’ (yes, it’s considered a separate letter in Spanish) presents problems to native speakers of English because they don’t have that palatalized ‘l’ in English. Yes, in English it is palatalized but the tongue isn’t squashed down against the palate in English as much as it is in Spanish. This problem is compounded by the fact that a Spaniard, a Mexican and a Cuban would pronounce the double ll differently.
In Spain (for the most part) the word ‘calle’ (street) would be pronounced ‘kahl –e-a’, in Mexico it would be pronounced ‘ka-e-a’, in Cuba it would be ‘kah-jay’. These pronunciations really need to be demonstrated to hear the difference, but the pronunciation gets ‘tighter’ as it goes from Spain to Mexico and especially to Cuba.