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Spanish just like Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, or French,  developed from Latin dialects, which - from the times of their conquest campaign under Julius Caesar against the Celts (Gauls) between 50 and 60 B. C. - were "left" by the Romans in the conquered areas. Around 600 AD the languages were "established". After the conquest of South and Central America by the Spaniards following the discovery of America (mistaken for "West India" ) by Christopher Columbus in the year 1492, the language arrived there and is spoken there still today (except in Brazil: Portuguese! ), world-wide by of a few hundred million humans.

The pronunciation of Spanish is regular, which one cannot maintain of the French or the English language (English is considered as the most irregular language regarding pronunciation. The last "spelling reform" took place more than 400 years! ).

The preliminary stage to learning a language is learning its pronunciation. With languages with regular pronunciation such as Spanish or Italian (also Turkish, where Atatuerk introduced the Latin way of writing only in 1928) that is a very small effort. Then one without any knowledge of the language can speak names, road signs and other signs, city names, song titles, etc. correctly. Spanish is always spoken rather softly (p rather like b; t rather like d; k rather like g). except for cc , ll and rr there are no double letters in Spanish. All vowels are spoken briefly and openly ("madre " = mother is thus not spoken like maaaadre, but madddre!). An e at the word ending is audible.

Letter

Sound

Example

b = v

at the word start: like b;

in the word: between b and w

Barcelona

lobo (wolf)

c

before e and i : like th in "thing"; in parts of Spain and in S-America like s !

otherwise: like k

cero (zero)

 

casa (house)

cc

thus before e and i like k + th

acción (action)

ch

like ch in  much

mucho (much)

d

in the word and at the end rather like English th in "there" (in some parts mute at the end)

Madrid (town)

g

before e and i : like ch in German "Buch" or Scottish “loch”; otherwise: like g

Gerona (town)

gafas (eyeglasses)

gu

like g (only before e and i , as a "hardener"); if the u of gu is to be spoken, the e gets 2 dots

guitarra (guitar)

verguënza (dishonor)

h

always mute!

hola (hello)

j

like ch in German "Buch" or Scottish “loch” (before a , o and u instead of g, as a "softener")

jugo (juice)

ll

like y in yes, sometimes like lj in familiar

Mallorca

ñ

like ney in vineyard

señor (gentleman; Mr)

qu

like k (only before e and i , instead of c, as a "hardener")

queso (cheese)

r

at the word start strongly rolled, otherwise tongue tip r (never an English r !)

rojo (red)

pero (however)

rr

always strongly rolled

perro (dog)

s

mostly "sharp" (unvoiced) as in kiss; sometimes voiced as in rose

rosa (thing)

mismo (same)

v see b

 

 

x

like gs before vowel (g so soft that one hardly hears it); before consonants like s

examen (exam, test)

extranjero (foreign country, foreigner)

y

alone or after vowels like y in boy;  before vowels like y in yes

 y (and), soy (I am)

yo (I)

z

always like th in "thing "; (before a , o and u , instead of c, as a "softener"); in parts of Spain and in S-America like s !

zapato (shoe)

 

The stress lies on the last but one syllable with words ending in a vowel or a n or an s, in the case of consonants (except for n and s) on the last syllable. With exceptions of this rule an accent (from left down to right above!)  is put on the vowel of the stressed syllable. This syllable must be stressed then (the rule is like the right of way rule "right has the priority to left"; the accent is the traffic light, so to speak). By the way: double vowels (diphthongs) containing "i" or "u" are counted as 1 sound ,however, like all diphthongs, are audibly spoken separately! In the case of an exception to the rule an accent is put on the stressed one of the two vowels.  

The accent is used also for the distinction between equally reading words (for avoiding misunderstandings), e. g. = you; tu = yours.

 

Curso de Español SOS  

How about a Spanish SOS course after so much theory? (although the pronunciation rules have been given above, the pronunciation is indicated and the syllable to be stressed is underlined! The unvoiced th in “thing” is represented as “th”, the voiced d being close to th in “there” is represented by “dh” (only to avoid intricateness, they are not doubled). If one speaks the d as a soft d, is it also okay. Some Spaniards do not seem to speak it at all at the word ending.

Lección I

Spanish

Pronunciation

English

¿ Hola, qué tal?

< olla, ke tull >

Hello, how are you?

¿ Cómo estás?

< kommo ess-tuss >

How are you?

Muy bien, gracias.

¿ Y tú?

< mooi bee-yenn , gruth-yuss >

< ee too >

Very well, thanks.

And you?

¿ Cómo te llamas?

< kommo te yum-muss>

What’s your name?

(Yo) me llamo ...

(¿ Y tú?)

< (yo) me jummo...

< (ee too) >

My name is ...

(and you?)

¿ De dónde eres?

< de donnde erres >

Where do you come from?

(Yo) soy de Inglaterra/ de los Estados Unidos/ (Yo) soy inglés/ inglesa/ americano/ americana

< soy de inguil-terra>

< soy ing-gless/ ing-glessa/ amerrikunno/ amerrikunna>

I’m from England/ the United States/

I’m English/ American.

¿ Cuántos años tienes?

< kwuntoss unnjoss tee-yennes >

How old are you?

(Yo) tengo ... años.

< teng-go ... annjoss >

I am... (years old).

¡ Muchas gracias!

< moott-schuss gruth-yuss >

Thank you!

¡ De nada.

> de nudha >

You’re welcome!/ not at all !

Por favor...

< porr favorr >

please ... (desire)

 

 Lección II

Spanish

Pronunciation

English

¡ Buenos días!

< boo-ennoss dee-yuss>

Good morning!

¡ Buenas tardes!

< boo-ennass tar-dess>

Good afternoon! / Good evening! (starting from approx. 14 o'clock)

¡ Buenas noches!

< boo-ennass nott-shess >

Good evening! (starting from approx. 20 o'clock)

¿ Cómo está (usted)?

< commo ess-ta oos-tae(dh) >

How are you?(form of respect, to unknown persons)

¿ Y usted?

< ee oos-tae(dh) >

And you? (”)

¿ Cómo se llama (usted)?

< Commo se jumma oos-tae(dh) >

What’s your name? (“)

Mi nombre es...

< mi nommbrae ess... >

My name is …

¿ Y usted?

< ee oos-tae(dh) >

And you? (“)

¿ Qué edad tiene?

< ke aedhu(dh) tee-yenne >

How old are you? (“)

 

 

 

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