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laepelba January 11, 2009 11:52 AM

English accent
I am brand new to learning Spanish. (It's fun!) I'm having a difficult time with some of the pronunciations. I am struggling with the r's and rr's in words like "perro" and "carro" and "verde" and so on, but I figure that's to be expected. I have found some great posts here on TomÃ*simo to help with that. (Thanks!)

My question is about accents. I would love to minimize my anglo-sounding accent when my Spanish gets more conversational. What are some of the things that (a) would hinder my being understood, and (b) would help me sound closer (on the spectrum) to a native speaker than to an anglo?

Thank you everyone for your input!

Rusty January 11, 2009 12:25 PM

The only advice given here in the past is to befriend native speakers and try to mimic their pronunciation. Listening to music in Spanish also helps a great deal. Search the forums for music to get some ideas on what's out there. If you get Spanish channels on cable/satellite/TV, watch them.

Jessica January 11, 2009 12:36 PM

I have LOTS of trouble with pronounciation! I am like you too! My writing in Spanish is OK, but my speaking is NOT ok.

laepelba January 11, 2009 12:40 PM

My writing in Spanish is not really okay (or else I would ask the questions in Spanish).... but I WANT to learn!

I have been trying to say "verde" and it just does NOT come out easily. I mean, I could say it like an English speaker with a hard "v" and sounding like "vair - day" ... but I KNOW that's not right.

Basically, I want to start GOOD pronunciation habits from the beginning. I don't want to have to correct things later....

Rusty January 11, 2009 12:53 PM

There is no American English 'r' in Spanish at all, just for the record. In fact, the sound we make for the letter is unique. It is not pronounced that way in any other language that I know of. So, try very hard to listen to it being pronounced correctly in Spanish and mimic the sound. Search the forums for how to pronounce it. The 'r' has two different pronunciations. The 'rr' is always trilled.

The letters 'v' and 'b' in Spanish are identical in sound. Say the American English 'b', but with less aspiration, for both consonants.

The vowel 'e' is pronounced like the 'e' in met, and is often phonetically spelled 'eh'. It is pronounced like the 'ei' in neighbor when it is the final vowel. So, the word verde has two different pronunciations for the 'e'. It looks like you understand this already, based on the way you phonetically spelled it above.

laepelba January 11, 2009 12:58 PM

Oh, you're right - it's NOT the "e's" that I am having trouble with. I know that the "v" is like a "b", but mind doesn't sound right. It's the "r" next to the "d" that has me thrown. I just can NOT get it. And I know I won't really learn that HERE (I'll have to work on that with my friends who speak Spanish. I mean, really, what 2-year-old in a Spanish speaking country can't say "verde"??)

But, back to my original question - what are the things that I ought to be very careful about so that I can build good habits??

Rusty January 11, 2009 02:30 PM

The trilled 'r' is very hard for a speaker of American English to learn. It took me a solid year to get it right. There are a few posts in the forums that describe tongue placement and air flow to help you learn.
It is the shortened trilled 'r' that precedes the 'd' (and other consonants).

The clipped 'r', when 'r' falls between vowels, can be learned in a couple of minutes. In American English, we have a consonant cluster 'tt'. It appears in words like better and pitter-patter. When these words are spoken quickly, as in normal conversation, you'll notice that there is no 't' sound in the words at all. What you are hearing is the clipped 'r' sound. It's closer to a 'd' than to a 't'. So, if you want to pronounce the Spanish word era, remember how 'better' is said in normal conversation. Repeat it several times, making sure you don't hear the 't' sound at all. While repeating it, drop the final 'r'. After several more repetitions, drop the 'b'. You are now correctly pronouncing the Spanish word era.

Planet hopper January 11, 2009 08:40 PM

:twocents:Right, let's see if I may help:

First thing you hear in an English speaker is that they speak too fast. Meaning Spanish stresses every single syllable, while English strikes stress once-twice in a sentence. Speak carefully, take your time. You won't sound limey.:lightning::basketball:

Vowels are very different, I think they are key. English simplifies vowels in unstressed syllables to the so-called schwa. Never do that in Spanish. Only five vowels, but pronounce them clearly and throughly. No pairs long-short, like sheep/ship.:pinkdaisies:

It is a good comparison for the single vibrant r (verde) to put it next to the American inter-vowel t (water, what a day). I agree with you, Rusty, it's no the same, but it is a good pedagogical start for students willing to practice, as it is the case. Similarities are more than differences, I think. If I'm wrong, well, foot in the mouth.:footinmouth:

The multiple vibrant r (rabo) is just a repeated variation, as if you imitate the sound of a motorbike.:violin:

Another consonat that variates is the t, which in English is slightly africate, at least in European English, while in Spanish it is purely dental.

Hope this helped,


CrOtALiTo January 11, 2009 11:08 PM

I want give my opinion above this situation, firstly I can give you the welcome to the forums, I will introduce myself, now if you have trouble with the accents then it's normal. because, I like, you, I have trouble with some words but at English, then you must procure ask inside forums questions or doubts that you have above your learning, then if you can't speak the Spanish, you should practice or improve with people in chat rooms or website as here in this website, but each learning at a language is hardly difficult, if you have not habitual use of the language, you will delay much in your learning but, don't worry, because someday, you will learn each word at Spanish, for example, you have been asking above the use of the word or letter V, R, ect. Let me telling you what with the word V, you can say these simple words, Verde, veracidad, Vetar, Veterano, Vegetales, ect. And with the word R, you can say these words Rana, Raro, Raramente, ranura, ect. Then the I trying to tell you, that is you need practice more and more your Spanish in some place where you can be free of expression.

And I bid you welcome again.

Planet hopper January 12, 2009 01:40 AM

Here is some more help, this is a classic tongue-twister to practice multiple vibrant r

El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Ramon Ramirez se lo ha cortado.

St Roque's dog has no tail because Mr. Ramon Ramirez cut it off. (poor dog)

Maybe you could burn an mp3 and attach it into a message so that we hear how you do it and advice better.

I wouldn't worry about the v phoneme. It is an ultra correction to pronounce it, 95% of the speakers pronounce it just like a b.



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