Why Spaniards pronounce the Z different?

2
votes

I have a Colombian friend and she does not pronounce the Z like the Spaniards. She told me that in Spain is the only Spanish speaking country that the Z is pronounced differently.

Does anyone know why?

38129 views
updated ABR 18, 2017
posted by dsmith70
Or...Where this came from?
In a recent Spanish class, my instructor informed us of the story behind that pronunciation. In the 15th century or so, i dont remember exactly, the knig did indeed have a lisp. After heaing his subjects mock him, he decreed all in the kingdom would speak
the same or have their heads removed. Seems they adapted to that permanenly.. Thats the explaination i got from an educator..
this is the best answer I have read! Just met a Spanish family and it was hard for me to say Z as TH. There's a joke that it's a social class thing..so posh is Estath, common is Estas...just a joke of course!

19 Answers

5
votes

I am no linguist, but not everyone in Spain "lisps" the "s" and "z." In Andulucía, you can find pronunciation of the "z" y "s" similar to that in Latin America. Also, a lot of the conquistadores came from Andulucía, so this helps to explain why certain Latin American dialects do not adopt the ? (th) pronunciation of the [s] [z]. Also, in the Canary Islands, the Spanish spoken closely reflects English traits, such as syntax and pronunciation because a lot of English speaking people stopped through there on their way to the Americas. If you would like more information on this subject, by all means you can do an internet search about this subject.

updated ABR 18, 2017
posted by Kerri
very interesting point Kerri
Kerri, you're absolutely right. It's a shame I can only vote you up once. Outside of the Andalucía area, they also pronounce "LL" as "elye," rather than "eye."
Interesting that in Andalucía they don't lisp the C and Z. I live in the middle of Andaluc'ia where they not only lisp the c and the z but also often the S!! I think this is more common amongst the older folk in the inland villages such as mine.
5
votes

I'm Spanish,and I'll try to answer the question. First, sorry for my bad English,but I'm still learning! In Spain za,ze,zi,zo,zu,ce,ci are pronounced like English "th". Why? Sincerely, I don't know. I think that American pronounce them like "s" for the U.S influence, because United States is closer than Spain. Homever, here in Spain, in Andalucía, Murcia, Extremadura and Canary Islands, people pronounce those syllables like Latin American. There also exist three co-official languages (Galician, Catalan and valencian). In these languages, z and c is pronounced like "s" too. So, now, I ask. Why in the USA is "t" pronunced so, so, so rare?....

updated DIC 5, 2015
edited by titanium123
posted by titanium123
hahah i think you mean "weird" instead of "rare", the translation on that word can be a little confusing sometimes..and i'm not sure! why is spanish so varied throughout the world? (:
because T is very common in the endings of words, and usually people bite the endings :)
The C I can explain. It's a variant of vulgar Latin pronunciation. In Italian the Ci and Ce is 'ch' The 'th' is the Castilian equivalent
4
votes

Yes, in Spanish the letter "z" as well as a "soft c" are pronounced along the lines of an English "th".

For example: "Gracias por los cinco zapatos" would come out something like "Grathias por los thinco thapatos".

Latin American comedians have been known to have a lot of fun with this!

updated ABR 18, 2017
posted by mountaingirl123
You are right. It surprises me a lot when I meet an American pronouncing the Z and the C like the Spaniards.
3
votes

Hi smithy, welcome to the forumgrin

Why Spaniards pronounce the Z different

Hmmm, this is a weird question as we are the only people who pronounce the z as it should be pronouncedraspberry

:::hiding, hiding::::

updated ABR 18, 2017
posted by 00494d19
Puedo hatherlo tambien :)
3
votes

Does that mean a Latinamerican person with a lisp will talk like a Spaniard? gulp

updated MAR 29, 2010
posted by Gustav-R
-->That's funny!
getting my vote, jejejeje
2
votes

Why don't English speakers pronounce "th" like "s"? Why do the French pronounce "th" like "t"?

updated MAR 29, 2010
posted by samdie
2
votes

I am a beginner in Spanish, but I do know the story to the lisp.

I was told it was because a ruler back then had a lisp. Here is a good article

http://spanish.about.com/cs/qa/a/q_lisp.htm

So who really knows. I believe the urban legend.

updated MAR 29, 2010
posted by Chi_Chi_Santiago
I like this story. I'm looking it up!
2
votes

People in different regions speak a differently, even if it's the same language, just as the dialects in each region uses a few different words.

... It's kind of like how people in America, England and Australia all speak English, but with different pronunciations, different spellings and different words.

... Hope that helps...

updated MAR 29, 2010
posted by MeEncantanCarasSonrisas
You are right
2
votes

Because it is their language and they can do whatever they want with it.

updated MAR 4, 2010
posted by Nathaniel
I see no reason to flag this response and have voted it up just to undo the point removal the flagging caused.
There is also an element of truth to the answer, as there is no real explanation at all. It's just the way it's done, really.
yeah, no reason, I unflagged it and compensating I will upvote it
1
vote

In Spanish from Spain (in other words, the original Spanish, meaning nothing more but nothing less than the first Spanish that ever was), the "Z" is pronounced exactly the same way as "TH" in the English word "THINK". Do English people have a lisp just because they prounce "think" as it is supposed to be pronounced (I am talking about standard English, of course) and they don't pronounce "sink"? I do no think so.

On top of that, please take a moment to think a bit more and ask yourself (if you still don't know, that is): how do Spaniards pronounce the "S"? Well, exactly the same way as English people pronounce it... So, if Spaniards pronounce the "s" without any problem whenever they come across one, but they pronounce "Z" as you pronounce the "th" in "think"... wouldn't it be a silly thing to say they have a lisp? Wouldn't it mean that for them the "z" and the "s" have their own sound each, and it is a different one? I do think so.

Furthermore, having said that, I believe the question "why don't Spanish American people pronounce the "z" as the Spaniards, bearing in mind the language came originally from there, and they just pronounce it as if it were an "s"?" is far more interesting.

updated ABR 18, 2017
posted by Sedano
1
vote

an interesting fact I heard from my friend who studies linguistics: very few languages have the "th" sound, although some of the most common languages have it.

To my certain knowledge English, Arabic, Greek and some flavors of Spanish have both the "theta" and the /s/ and consistently distinguish between them. French, Italian,, Japanese and some flavors of Spanish do not have the "theta" sound. (I know of no language that lacks the /s/).

"to lisp" is to inappropriately substitute the "theta" for the /s/ (in other words, where most speakers of that same dialect use /s/). It is total nonsense to apply the term "lisp" (or "cecear") to the pronunciation of "z" and "c" in (roughly) northern Spain.

P.S. the "lisping king" myth is just that, a myth. In addition, it is a stupid myth because 1) languages/dialects do not evolve that way and 2) it totally ignores the fact that the /s/ is alive and well throughout almost all of Spain.

updated MAR 29, 2010
posted by samdie
Your answer makes a lot of sense.
1
vote

I believe Spanish is from Spain so why doesn't Latin America pronounce it like Spain?

updated MAR 27, 2010
edited by Austin67427
posted by Austin67427
For the same reason Americans don't talk like Brits.
0
votes

I do not know the answer but find this very interesting. Do people from barcelona pronouce the 'z' and 'c' like 'th' in english?

updated SEP 19, 2010
posted by twistandshout
As I heard they pronounce "s"
You heard wrong. They pronounce it like in English "thin".
0
votes

The Greek language has the "th" and has a separate letter for it called "theta" which looks like this: ?. Many languages very often use it to specify the "th"-sound when they write other languages phonetically to explain what the correct pronounciation of words is.

updated MAR 29, 2010
posted by chicasabrosa
0
votes

That is very interesting. When I first heard Enrique Iglesias sing in Spanish, I thought he had a lisp, but then I told myself 'no, that would be impossible', a singer would have proper pronounciation. Then I started studying Spanish and found out about the soft 'c' and 'z' sounding like the 'th' in English. (for most Spaniards anyway).

updated MAR 3, 2010
posted by Lise-Laroche