7 Vote

I don't understand why spanish is spoken with a lisp, like "pez" is pronounced "peth" can anyone explain why??

  • Posted May 26, 2011
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15 Answers

13 Vote

Some people speak with a lisp, while a lot of people in Spain pronounce the Z differently from Latin America, using a "th" sound; but this is not a lisp.

Medieval Spanish had four sounds that were so close to one another, that people used to get confused quite often, so eventually these sounds were simplified. The northern part of Spain reduced the system to two sounds: "s" and "th", while the south of Spain reduced all four sounds to just "s". After Columbus reached America, over 80% of the Spanish speaking people who went there departed from Seville (south of Spain) for at least two centuries, so it is no wonder that in Latin America the Z is pronounced like in Seville.

The northern pronunciation is not a lisp, but what many schools teach as the correct pronunciation in most parts of Spain (not in the south, though). You better don't call it a lisp.

  • Cheers m8 didnt think id get such a percise answer ; ) - Eimhin May 26, 2011 flag
  • Laz, your Spanish is Superiort, but your English, "You had better not call it ..." - Lector_Const May 26, 2011 flag
  • Lisp? foolishness! it is a softening of the enunciation - pacofinkler May 26, 2011 flag
5 Vote

Oh, boy! You may get an earful from the natives for describing it as a lisp, even though, it is commonly described that way.

Where did the Spaniards get their lisp?

¡Bienvenido al foro!

Welcome to the forum!

You may well have earned yourself a permanent stool in the Dunce Corner. Quite an feat for a newcomer. The "Queen" of this forum is a Madrileña. You might survive, but watch out for lightning bolts from out of a clear blue sky.

  • Haha! Its funny because he´s my brother. - sam_walsh May 26, 2011 flag
5 Vote

I would like to know why so many native English speakers use such moronic expressions as "duh," "frickin," "like, like, like," etc.

Excellent question.

My experience: Some of this is just cultural, and begins from bad habits. But I think there's more to this. There's been a trend towards "anti-intellectualism" in which showing less intellect is assumed to imply that one has more strength and power. That is based on a completely irrational assumption that there's an inverse relationship between intellect and physical strength.

To be perceived as tough, strong, and powerful, these people act stupid (even more stupid than they really are smile), and use foul language to excess.

My opinion.

5 Vote

Who was the awful person who invented the word "lisp" and put an "s" in it?

  • lol - oh so true! - Kiwi-Girl May 26, 2011 flag
  • thith lithp thounth thilly , thankth mateth . - ray76 Jul 22, 2013 flag
4 Vote

For the same reason that you "lisp" when you pronounce the English word "with". (because that's the standard pronunciation)

3 Vote

I think you are talking about what is known as the ceceo and it's important to know that it is not a lisp.

A lisp is the mispronunciation of the sibilant s sound but in Castilian Spanish, the sibilant s sound exists and is represented by the letter s. for example 'Soplar'

When z or c is followed by an i or an e that's when you'll hear the ceceo.

3 Vote

I used to think "lisp" at first, many years ago. I used to think that it made my learning of Spanish more difficult, due to having to re-learn some consonants. In hindsight, there were many more important things to worry about as a student, than this.

Today, I'm enchanted whenever I hear the northern accent, in a way similar to how many American English speakers love to hear a British accent. It's really quite beautiful.

3 Vote

I would like to know why so many native English speakers use such moronic expressions as "duh," "frickin," "like, like, like," etc.

  • Julian I don't use duh or frickin but I sometimes say: like, whish is a common English expression up north lol - FELIZ77 May 26, 2011 flag
  • It because our education system is failing,for OH so many reasons - pacofinkler May 26, 2011 flag
  • Like why do you not understand man. Like duh, get with it man. This is like friken lame man. :-). Just having fun. - Andreknue May 26, 2013 flag
  • Fricken is used as the "G" rated version of another word I am not going to write. - Andreknue May 26, 2013 flag
  • @Andreknue--I think it's more "PG-13" :) - Daniela2041 Jan 14, 2015 flag
3 Vote

Medieval Spanish had four sounds that were so close to one another, that people used to get confused quite often, so eventually these sounds were simplified.

My own theory of C/Z, which may or may not have anything to do with Lazarus' comments, is in that in speech we don´t have the opportunity to spell like words for clarity.

ie: Ayer la caza fue muy aburrida / Ayer la casa fue muy aburrida. Without prior context, one could be confused. "Is this guy talking about a boring hunting trip or a boring house?"

ie: La tasa está en malas condiciones / La taza está en malas condiciones. "Is the inflation/investment yield/employment rate in bad shape, or is the cup in bad shap?

Fortunately in conversation we have context and in writing we have spelling, but there could be times where the C/Z pronunciation would disallow any confusion.

2 Vote

Tsk Tsk! Uhh, nobody is going to like this!

Native speakers just have a much more wonderful accent than us! wink

2 Vote

I think it's so stupid how people keep saying how it's not a lisp when it sounds EXACTLY the same as someone with a lisp. Actually, what's really idiotic is why a group of people would make their pronunciation on certainly letters EXACTLY like that of a speech impediment. Really, this is simply moronic. It's like closing one eye and saying 'This is how I want to see the world. No, I'm not blind in one eye, but it's my choice to be exactly like a person that is blind in one eye....or a pirate.' Whatever the case, it sounds annoying and anyone who doesn't think so or agree is kidding themselves.

  • It seems odd to me that someone who just joined SD today, would pick this topic to comment on out of all the other actual learning topics there are.to choose from. Is there a reason for the combattive comment? - 0095ca4c Jul 22, 2013 flag
1 Vote

Well, we don't all talk with a lisp, jeje, not a lisp really, the standard pronunciation for the ce, or ci...etc.

In other countries this is pronounced like an s.

  • I assure you that anyone so beautiful can lisp or not, as she sees fit. (my son told me so) - Lector_Const May 26, 2011 flag
1 Vote

Another "explanation" is that given all the inbred happening among royal families during the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, some of our kings and queens showed symptoms of down syndrome, autism or simply speech problems and one of them, Carlos III, had the ceceo problem, already mentioned in a prior post. Everybody tried to emulate him and there came the pronunciation of the zeta sound which now we embrace as the "pure" Castilian Spanish. A Swiss Spanish teacher once told me... Not a lisp my friend

  • Since there is no such thing as a "Spanish lisp", any "explanation" is utter nonsense. - samdie Jul 22, 2011 flag
0 Vote

From what I read, one of Spain's King Ferdinand (sure which Ferdinand, maybe VI or I) used to lisp in his speech, so people I guess thought it was funny or cute and lept doing it. Then later on it became normal where people say "th" instead of "s" as part of their language (not a lisp).

0 Vote

Many Spanish words come from Arabic. Take aceitunas (olives) for example. The Arabic word for this is azeitun, pronounced with a z sound like in the English pronunciation of zero. As this z sound doesn't exist in Spanish, it is approximated, sometimes as θ (th) and sometimes as s, depending on the dialect. Aint no lisp.

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