What is the easiest way to get learn new Spanish words and to pronounce them correctly?

1
vote

i want to know how to pronounce new spanish words correctly!

4372 views
updated SEP 6, 2009
edited by 00494d19
posted by lily13524
please note that it is mandatory on this forum to use correct spelling, grammar, and capitalization in your posts. -

9 Answers

4
votes

I think that the first step to good pronunciation begins with learning the vowel sounds first. If you think about it, Spanish is actually easier to learn in this respect as you don't have to worry about all the variations in spelling that produce different sounds.

In Spanish, a is always pronounced ah

Think of all the different ways that a can be pronounced in an English word: father, late, and, etc., and this is without even taking into account the various diphthongs that can change in sound depending on meaning such as the word read whose sound changes with tense from a long e to a short e.

This can be quite confusing to an non-native speaker trying to learn English. For Spanish, however, all you have to do is remember the basic vowel sounds, a few diphthongs/triphthongs and a handful of differences between the pronunciation of English and Spanish consonants and you are set. A useful rhyme to help you remember the vowels is:

a-e-i-o-u un burro sabe mas que tú

ah-ay-ee-oh-oo oon boo-roh sah-bay mahs kay too

Here is a list of some of the Spanish letters and there approximate pronunciations in English


VOWEL SOUNDS

a like a in father.

e like é in café if at the end of a word or followed by a single consonant

e like e in let if followed by more than one cons. or by one cons at the end of a word

i normally like i in submarine unless it forms a diphthong with other vowels (see diphthongs)

o normally like the o in window but half as long and without being followed by the w sound

o when followed by more than one consonant or by a single consonant at the end of a word sounds like o in border.

u normally like u in dune unless it forms a diphthong with other vowels


DIPHTHONGS

ai/ay like i in kite

au like ow in now

ei/ey like a in fate

eu like ayw in wayward

oi/oy like oi in oil

ia/ya like ya in yacht

ie/ye like ye in yet

io/yo like yo in yore

iu/yu like u in utility

ua like wa in water

ue like wa in awake

ui like wee in weep

uo like uo in quohog


TRIPHTHONGS

iái like yi in yipe

iéi like ya in yay

uai/uay like wi in wipe

uei/uey like wai in waiter


CONSONANTS

b/v if at the beginning of a word or if the b follows an m it sounds similar to b in cabin

b/v like v in never only both lips are nearly but not quite touching (hold your lips as though you were trying to say a b and a v at the same time without holding your lips between your teeth as with a v and without quite touching your lips together as with a b.

c before an e or an i like c in think (I believe that this pronunciation may only be for Spain and that in America it is pronounced like s)

ch like ch in chapter

d If it begins a word or comes after an n then set your mouth as if you were going to say d like in day but place the tip of your tongue on the back of your teeth rather than on the roof of your mouth (alveolar ridge)

d Any other time pronounce it like th in father

f like the f in life

g at the beginning of a word, followed by a, o, or u, or after n sounds like g in gold

g if followed by a, o, or u, in the middle of a word and not preceded by n then similar to g in cigar, but don't tighten your throat as much and with a slight vibration of the uvula.

j except at the end of a word this sound is very similar to a German sound ach close to a combination of an h and a y. Think about making and extending the h sound in the word hue and this should be close. This sound is also made by g followed by an e or i, by x in some words like México and by h in some variations on there normal pronunciation

k hard k sound like k in keep

l similar to l in lord

ll sounds like lli in billion but is often said so rapidly that it comes out like y as in yawn

m like the m in rum

n like the n in universe

ñ like the ni in onion (sounds like ny)

p quickly like the p in torpedo

r When at the end of a word or in the middle of a word and not preceded by l, n, or s then it is very similar to the British r in very almost like you are trying to make a d as in the relaxed pronunciation of dd in ladder.

r Any other time it is strongly trilled like rr (see below)

rr This is probably one of the toughest sounds to explain, and most people either get it right away or have to work at it. Think of the old R-r-r-uffles have r-r-r-idges" commercials (if you remember them) or like the Scottish *rr in burr

s like s in see

t set your mouth to say a t like in satin but place the tip of your tongue on the back of your teeth rather than on the roof of your mouth (alveolar ridge)

w (usually in words of foreign origin) like w in weapon

y like y in yes


Use the little rhyme above it if helps, practice saying the Spanish alphabet until you know it like the English alphabet (if you don't know it yet, then learn it)

Practice reading in Spanish aloud, slowly at first, until you feel comfortable with the different sounds that the letters should make. Read the passages aloud even if you don't understand them so that you can get accustomed to the different sounds that the letters make in Spanish.

Don't forget, that the way to learn pronunciation is to actually imitate a native speaker. Listen to Spanish TV and practice the sounds that you hear (keeping in mind the letters that make these sounds). This is how a baby learns language, by imitation, and it is likely the best way for any of us to learn it as well. If you feel frustrated by your daily progress, just remember that good pronunciation does not occur overnight, in a week or even in a year. Think of how well children pronounce words at different ages and stages of their lives and you will get my point.

Just keep persevering, and eventually you will reach (or at least get close enough for your own satisfaction) your goal.

Good luck in all your endeavors.

updated SEP 6, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
1
vote

What is the easiest way to learn new spanish words,and pronounce them correctly?

Start with three words a day. As you walk or drive or eat, say them over and over. In you mind build phrases with those words.

So Pick three words. Break them down into syllables, right to left.

historea = ea : tor ea : his tor ea

You must practice with a native speaker.

updated SEP 5, 2009
posted by missionbibleman
1
vote

historia = ia : to. ria : his to. ria

You've got the wrong spelling, and your syllabification makes absolutely no sense in Spanish (or English, if you ask me)

His - to - ria

Learn less than 15 rules, and you'll be able to effortlessly read millions of words in Spanish much more accurately than in English.

updated SEP 5, 2009
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

Your approximations are inaccurate at times.

What exactly does that mean...my approximations are inaccurate at times.

That sentence is, at best, redundant. An approximation is by definition "inaccurate at times."

Perhaps you have overlooked the fact that I did say from the beginning that these were approximations aimed at getting the learner close to forming the correct sounds. This is a written forum, and if you expect to teach someone anything more than an approximation of correct pronunciation by describing it to them in writing then I think that it may be you who has been piling on the "rubbish." Furthermore, if it is your contention that your instructions can represent anything more than an approximation then I think that you may have deluded yourself.

For one thing, to say that a letter sounds like the pronunciation of a certain word is doomed to be inaccurate for at least a sizable proportion of the population. In America alone, it would be a mistake to assume that two people reading your (or my) instructions from different regions of the country would come up with the same sound. According to you, to pronounce a in Spanish requires the following:

This sound does not occur in English in isolation, but if you take a word like "my", which sounds like a fast "ma"+ "ee", and you omit the last "ee" sound, you get a pretty convincing Spanish "a". However, if you say "ma" alone in English, the sound is not the same.

If I were to try to follow your instructions (or my own for that matter) it would not compare to the way someone might say it 100 miles away in Louisiana. It wouldn't compare to the way someone might say it 200 miles away in Dallas. I can only imagine how divergent the sounds would be between different people from Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, or Boston if they were to follow your instructions.

How about your handling of the pronunciation of r.

r: After a pause, “l”, “n”, or “s”, or in the combination “rr”, it has a trilled sound that it is generally very difficult for non-Spanish speakers. The trick is to do with your tongue what you do when you say “brrrr” when you are cold, but using your tongue, not your lips.

Would this be the "brrr" that you might hear in South Texas or would this be the "buh" you might hear in a New England state with a heavy Dutch influence, or perhaps you are speaking of the retroflex r found in other parts of the country. Which is it? It seems that your own instructions would be inaccurate as each region does something different with there tongue when they are saying "brrr." Each region of the country contains its own dialect. Moreover, there are many English speaking countries across the world have their own dialects whose variations might make portions of your own explanation "inaccurate." I wonder have your extensive studies failed to account for this fact.

My point is that there are regional difference in word pronunciations and all you or I can hope to give somebody in the way of instructions by the written word is an approximation. To suggest anything else would be inaccurate.

At least in my posting I began with such a disclaimer. Moreover I finished by suggesting that the pronunciations that I had suggested would not suffice in and of themselves.

Don't forget, that the way to learn pronunciation is to actually imitate a native speaker.

The guidelines that I gave were intended to be used so that the reader could try to get an approximation of the sounds that they would need to make, but I never implied that they were perfect. No written instruction will be perfect no matter how cocksure the author is in his own expository talents.

The guidelines that I have set forth were the same ones that I used to get a close approximation to the sounds that I needed to make when I initially learned Spanish in my youth. I did not, however, rely solely on these guidelines. Instead, I listened to and spoke with the native speakers from Mexico who rode my bus, and practiced making the sounds that they made. I spoke to my next door neighbors from Guatemala. I also watched Spanish television and listened to Spanish radio. The written guidelines got me reasonably close, but it was still necessary to model my speech after native speakers. It seems that you are implying that somehow your special method represents some panacea for poor pronunciation. If this is the case then I have to say that such an assertion is patently false.

You have contented that the inaccuracies in my method are

the main reason why Spanish natives always think to themselves "I can understand this American, but he sounds so... so foreign, so weird.".

I will just say that the method that I have put forth for learning Spanish has gotten me close enough in my speech patterns to have received numerous complements over the years on my own pronunciation from native Spanish speakers. I am quite sure, however, that my accent likely still stands out like a sore thumb and will always sound...well...foreign. As to the last part of your statement, there is a reason that an American will sound foreign to a Spanish native: an American is foreign. It seems that you actually claim that reading and following your instructions will gain the reader an eloquence of speech to rival that of a native speaker? Again, I say to you sir: RUBBISH!

In actuality, I had not intended for my post to be a comparison to your own posting. In fact, when I initially posted my reply I would have likely limited my response to the statements regarding imitating native speakers. At the time, however, when I followed the link from your post, there was a message there indicating that the post had been deleted. Had the post been there, I am sure that I would not have spent quite so much time in composing my own response. tongue wink

updated SEP 6, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Izan please read your PM, go to your page and find it there.
0
votes

Pssst....while they are busy debating, I'll tell you a good method. At the book store or library you can get a CD that focuses entirely on spanish pronunciation. Get that, and spend a half hour to 45 mins. per day practicing. Before you know it, you'll have excellent skills.

updated SEP 6, 2009
edited by ChamacoMalo
posted by ChamacoMalo
I wouldn't call it fighting as I don't think that there is any ill will intended by either party by our words. But I agree with you that listening to CDs is also a good way to immitate native speakers
Often times your local library can provide a wealth of tools such as these and you can save on the 15 - 45 dollars that the bookstore charges :-)
@Izanoni...Thanks for pointing that out. I made an edit to more accurately describe the above statements.
0
votes

Another good idea is to sign up for the "word of the day" vocabulary. it gets sent to you by email, and it's like the dictionary on this site. you can click on the megaphone looking thing and it pronounces the word for you. Or you could just go to the dictionary and type in english words and it translates it into spanish for you. (just click on the megaphone looking thing) another good method is just sound out the vowels in the word. then say the word.

updated SEP 6, 2009
edited by sarahjs
posted by sarahjs
I think that this is a great idea for immitating the basic Spanish sounds. Just remember, however, that the voice generated on this site is computer generated and often lacks the necessary inflection and at times suffers from all the faults of any
computer generated voice system.
0
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e like é in café if at the end of a word or followed by a single consonant

e like e in let if followed by more than one cons. or by one cons at the end of a word

o normally like the o in window but half as long and without being followed by the w sound

o when followed by more than one consonant or by a single consonant at the end of a word sounds like o in border.

Rubbish! There is only one "e" and one "o" sound.

u normally like u in dune unless it forms a diphthong with other vowels

The sound in Spanish is shorter than in "dune".

ua like wa in water

This sound is closer in American English than it is in British English, but neither "a" is the same as in Spanish.

DIPHTHONGS

ai/ay like i in kite

au like ow in now

ei/ey like a in fate

Sorry izanoni1, but "kite" does not sound exactly like "ai" in Spanish: the Spanish "i" is more closed and front than that in English one. "ow" does not sound exactly like "ou" in Spanish: the Spanish "u" is more closed and back than the English one. And there are other inaccuracies in many of the descriptions, and they are the main reason why Spanish natives always think to themselves "I can understand this American, but he sounds so... so foreign, so weird.".

Why do you Americans make things so complicated?

Diphthongs starting with "i" sound like the "y" in "you", and the "u" like an English "w".

ai/ay like a plus i

au like a plus u

ei/ey like e plus i

eu like e plus u

Can you see the pattern? You pronounce the first vowel, and then the second one. Why memorizing all the diphthongs, if this is not English? It is Spanish, and all you have to do is to pronounce one letter after another.

I suggest you read my article. It is based on scientific phonetic comparisons (that I've studied, not performed myself) between languages. Your approximations are inaccurate at times.

updated SEP 5, 2009
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907
Pues como ves Izan tte ha vuelto a dar, este hombre es la pera, jejeje, pero como tienes sentido del humor no me preocupa :p
0
votes

SMACK

Please, izanoni1, that thing does not sound like Spanish... al all! excaim

¡AY! shock Sí, patrón...perdóname...por favor. No puedo soportar otro golpe...no mas por favor...

SMACK

I figured out (with some effort) cool smirk the vowels.....

¡AY! snake

¿Por qué me golpean tan fuerte? Pues...no más...no más

SMACK

They are not about the same. They ARE angry the same.

I suggest you read my article about how to read Spanish too.

¡AY, Dios mío! Por favor...no más señor......

No diré nada nunca más zipper

SMACK

¡AYyyy...! Me han matado shut eye

Ya me muero downer

updated SEP 5, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
jejejejejej, un poco de risa siempre viene bien, bien por ti izan :)
0
votes

ah-ay-ee-oh-oo oon boo-roh sah-bay mahs kay too

Please, izanoni1, that thing does not sound like Spanish... al all!

...the v and the b sound about the same

They are not about the same. They ARE the same.

I suggest you read my article about how to read Spanish too.

updated SEP 5, 2009
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907
I figured out (with some effort) the vowels but what on earth is "oon boo-roh sah-bay mahs kay too"?