HomeQ&ABilbao y Bacalao

Bilbao y Bacalao

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Basically this is a question about regional variations in pronunciation.

I once heard someone (a Madrileño) say of someone else ¨Habla de Bilbado y bacalado.¨His intent was to ridicule the "overly precise" pronunciation of the other person. In other words he was suggesting that the other person was so concerned to fully pronounce the "d" in the past participles of -ar verbs that he was _adding_ a "d" in words that legitimately end in "-ao". So I have two questions:
1) What is the geographic distribution of Spanish speakers who do _not_ pronounce the "d" in the past participles of -ar verbs?
2) Does this practice extend to other words that end in "-ado" besides the past participle? The only one that I can think of offhand is the name of the museum in Madrid. I'm pretty sure I've never heard anyone drop the "d" sound from El Prado but I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of conversations that I've listened to about the museum.

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updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by samdie

11 Answers

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James Santiago said:

No one has specifically mentioned that the D in such cases is not an English D at all, but is actually much closer to the TH in "them." So even in standard Spanish, the D might sound weak to people accustomed to English D's.

The sound in "them" (voiced dental fricative) is exactly the one we regularly pronounce when the D is between vowels. Despite being in the English language, many English speakers don't seem to be aware of this, and pronounce the D like an English one, getting a very affected pronunciation.

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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James Santiago said:

In my own experience, the D is dropped most strongly in the Caribbean nations, although it is also dropped to varying degrees elsewhere. Most Mexicans pronounce the D, although not as an English D.

No one has specifically mentioned that the D in such cases is not an English D at all, but is actually much closer to the TH in "them." So even in standard Spanish, the D might sound weak to people accustomed to English D's.


I have no problem with how the "d" is pronounced (when it is pronounced) and I'm well aware of the difference in the pronunciation depending on the phonetic context. When I went to Madrid, I was struck by the absence of the "d" in words ending "-ado" and it seemed to me that almost everyone was doing it (except when making a particular effort to enunciate). My prior experience in Mexico made it seem obvious that this was a regional difference but I didn't notice the "-ao" pronunciation in the speech of several teachers of Spanish whom I knew (from Puerto Rico, Columbia and Argentina [perhaps, because they were teachers]). That led me to wonder (and, eventually, ask here) about the practice in other countries.

P.S. I'm a big fan of "cante hondo" (or "jondo"), so I know how they pronounce things but it's common in singing (and, especially, flamenco singing) to modify/distort the pronunciation of words in order to fit with the music).

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by samdie
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In my own experience, the D is dropped most strongly in the Caribbean nations, although it is also dropped to varying degrees elsewhere. Most Mexicans pronounce the D, although not as an English D.

No one has specifically mentioned that the D in such cases is not an English D at all, but is actually much closer to the TH in "them." So even in standard Spanish, the D might sound weak to people accustomed to English D's.

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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In my first entry I meant to write Belize and not Brazil

The letter D Strongest after n, or l or following a pause
Weaker between vowels or at the end of words, in some cases in Spain to the point of disappearance, e.g. ado >ao
Over all less strong than the English d and pronounced with the tongue behind the top teeth and not on the ridge above the teeth,cf. dead and dedo finger.
Taken from the book titled, Spanish An Essential Grammar
By Peter T Bradly and Ian Mackentire.

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by 00769608
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I've heard "pedo" probably about as often as I've heard "El Prado"
ventoso =pedo, at least for people in San Salvadór.

The second group seems to be the Afro descendants of Latin America, the most of them located in Central America .

Central America consists of five countries are: Guatemala. El salvadór Honduras
osta Rica, Nicaragua. Panama is not included it was part of Columbia until the EE. UU. stole it from Colombia. And, Brazil is not included either 'cause The United Kindom stole it from Guátemala. My point is that the islands of the Antilles are not part of Central America.As far, as I know in Cental Ameriica. almost no one skips the letter e. In Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo the people there do omit the letter d.

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by 00769608
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I would personally consider this a regional difference.

It is considered rather "uneducated" to say "Prao" which is heard but sounds horrible in my opinion.

In Madrid mostly in all endings in ado the d is simply suppressed, non existent. I do not agree with this and keep correcting all my friends all the time! jejeje (everybody hates me...)
But I cannot agree with Lazarus that endings in ido and edo are pronounced the same too, at least not in Madrid. The d is not a strong sound like in English, it is soft and more similar to a very soft th sound...but it IS pronounced.

I have friends from Andalusia and they do mostly suppress everything....so not surprisingly they also suppress the d in all endings, jeje

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by 00494d19
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I have heard "pedo" pronounced with the 'd' sound. But let's keep in mind that the 'd' is always soft in spanish when it falls between two vowels especially, as Lazarus points out, when the emphasis is on the vowel directly preceding it. That is why in linguistics the sound of the first 'd' in "dedo" is distinguished from the sound of the second 'd'. So it becomes very "easy" for a spanish speaker to drop it almost entirely.

Having said that, if you are trying to sound professional, you are not going to drop the 'd' sound in the past participles quite as much.

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by Mark-W
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samdie, just my personal experience,in regards of your questions 1 and 2, it seems that people from Andalucía are the main group that omit the "d" as you said. Flamenco singers call themselves as "cantaores" (not "cantadores" neither "cantantes" which is the normal used word. "Mataor" (instead of "matador" for bullfighter, "tablao" (tablado) is the site where "bailaoras" dance Sevillanas.....As you can see all of them are nouns not verbs, other nouns are "helao" (ice cream), "traslao" (movement from one place to other), and so on...same thing with the past participle of verbs like calmar (calmao), enamorar (enamorao), buscar (buscao)....
The second group seems to be the Afro descendants of Latin America, the most of them located in Central America but also includes people from Perú going up to the north.
I guess for those groups that is their Spanish....they don't feel they are using a wrong pronunciation.

It is different with people that have a poor education, mainly country people in Chile (they are excellent persons as the most of country people in the world), that also drop the "d" ....they are aware it is not the right way to speak and they don't mind it when they are in their communities....but when they get "the city" they try to speak as "educated" people do...stressing the "d" and they fall in the "Bilbado, Bacalado (also fidedo)" trick.

Agradeceré corregir mis errores ... (mi lenguaje nativo es el español)

updated OCT 10, 2008
posted by scapeuce
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I've heard "peo" countless times (and said it myself as well), so that'll give you an idea of the sort of conversations and situations I get into, hehe ("pedo" in Spain is not just a fart, but the act of getting very drunk, as you probably know).

updated AGO 23, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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Well, I was particularly hoping for a response from you as I feel it would carry the weight of considerable authority. Now that you mention it, I do remember lots of instances where I've heard "lado" without a perceptible "d". I've heard "pedo" probably about as often as I've heard "El Prado" (I suppose that this reveals something about the sorts of conversations that I've been involved in) but I've no recollection of hearing the "d" elided. I have plenty of records of flamenco songs in which "'do" has dropped the "d" but I thought that that might be peculiarly characteristic of the gitanos. As I implied in the original post, in my own conversational experience, I've heard plenty of people drop the "d" from words ending in "-ado" but, aside from the above mentioned flamenco songs, I don't have much memory (or I failed to notice) elisions of the "d" in "-edo"/"-ido" words.

En todo caso te agradezco la repuesta y haré un esfuezro para tenerla en cuento la próxima vez que se me presenta la oportunidad de usarlo-escucharlo en una conversación.

updated AGO 23, 2008
posted by samdie
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I don't know the complete and exact geographic distribution, but I can tell you that any word ending in -ado/-edo/-ido is pronounced without the D, provided that the stress is on the vowel which is right before the D. Thus, sábado is not pronounced as "sábado", and the same with "sólido", "nítido", "rígido", "lúcido", "párpado", "sórdido", "válido" and "húmedo", but it is "supressable" it with "rápi(d)o" and "híga(d)o" for some reason. Words with the stress on the penultimate syllable, like "lado", which has nothing to do with a verb, are all pronounced without D, like "la(d)o", "pe(d)o", "ni(d)o" and "rui(d)o". However, I wouldn't pronounce "vado" as "vao"; maybe because "vaho" is a different word, and it would sound funny.

At least that's how I personally pronounce them with my accent (which of course I can easily avoid to speak "standard Spanish").

updated AGO 23, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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