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As I noticed the name of Argentinian football club Boca Juniors is pronounced by Argentinians not as I would expect in Spanish but more close to English

As far as I understand, the reason for that is this name having English origin and that the word "junior" is absent in Spanish.

The questions are: - are the assumptions above correct? - how does Spanish-speaking person without English knowledge know how to pronounce this word? Is it a convention or an exception?

I am wondering what would be the difference between pronouncing the words with origin in other language that speaker doesn't know and "invented" words like in http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabberwocky

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is a tricky question. If someone doesn't know another language, he/she can't know how to pronounce it well. That's obvious. However, in the case of Boca Juniors, I would say many people in Argentina learn how to say it way before knowing how it is written or how to write at all.

Anyway, in the more general case, I'm no expert but I think people just "do their best" to pronounce unknown words correctly. They will apply what they know and try to make the word sound "right" under that frame.

For example, back in the 50s or 60s, in Spain very few people spoke English, and so they used Spanish (or French) rules to English words, or names. Thus, you would hear things like "Umpri Bogar" (Humphrey Bogart), "Yon Baine" (John Wayne), "Kirk Duglas" (Kirk Douglas)...

Nowadays exposure to English is much bigger, and more people speak it, so now we more or less pronounce them well. So the son of Kirk Duglas is Maikel Daglas (the funny thing is we keep saying Kirk Duglas even though we "know" it's wrong).

But, at least here in Spain, people don't take it too far. We can very easily say two English words, one with English pronounciation and the other with Spanish pronunciation, e.g. we pronounce White Label as "uait label" not "uait leibol" or "uite label", and there are some names we haven't got right yet, like Tom Cruise, which everybody here says "Tom Cruis" (actually, I think it's slowly changing and more people say it right).

And, lo and behold, if someone says those English words with the proper accent and pronounciation, they can be regarded as "pedantic".

From what I've seen in TV, it seems like in Mexico and other countries in Central and South America, people say English words better, probably because they are more exposed to English, in TV, cinema, etc.

But now that people more or less know how to pronounce English, when they find a foreign word, they (we) will, again, "do their best" to say it. So they will add English to their pronounciation toolbox, and say the word using that toolbox, often mixing things between languages. And now we say German, Russian, Dutch, or whatever language words and names with a mixture of rules of Spanish, English and any other languages we might know, plus whatever similar we might have heard on TV, films, etc., so now "H"s have sound when they shouldn't, "ei" is pronounced like Spanish "i", instead of "ai" (like in German), etc.

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"guel done" MikMik (well done) –  AlexBcn Jul 18 '13 at 8:33

My name is Jocelyn Jaen (Yoselin Jaen) no one so far has called me "Jocelyn" with the J sound. But they have called me, quite often, Yoselin Yaen asumming the other J is also pronounced as an spanish Y.

I think we native spanish speakers just say the things that would have a weird sound to us as we imagine it sounds best.

In your example "Boca Juniors" is a word we all are familiar with, and we've heard it a lot of times. Maybe if you took it to a place who has never heard of the J sound used as a Y they'll give you the J pronunciation expected.

We say "Yessica"(Jessica)" because "Gesica" will sound incorrect. But we never say "Yuana" (Juana) or "Yulieta" (Julieta) since it is not how we have heard those names before so we only try to get closer to what we already heard.

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"Juniors" is readily recognized as a foreign word, and so the Spanish speaker, even if he doesn't know English, assumes that its pronunciation does not follow the Spanish spelling rules. The de-facto pronunciation would be learned by ear, probably before even knowing the spelling (I remembered as a child, a word like "Hollywood" was heared and pronounced as "jóligud", it took me some time, when I read the correct word, to recognize it). And it will usually be an approximation to the English pronounciation. In the case of "Boca Juniors", as we lack the "j" sound, we pronounce it rather like "shuniors".

This happens often in football (soccer), which has English heritage and is very popular in Argentina, in names of teams ("River Plate" = "riberpléi", "Newell's Old Boys" ="niusolbois"), and other terms ("offside" ~ "orsay"). In a few cases (no rules, it just happened) the English pronounciation vanished ("Racing" is pronounced as it were a Spanish word).

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