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I know hardly any Spanish, however I was wondering if there was any difference between sci and si, as in si versus piscina. I know that they could just be artifacts from Latin, but I feel as if there should be some subtle pronunciation difference.

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There is a lot of difference. On 'piscina' you have three well differentiated syllables, that of 'pis', 'ci' and 'na', thus having differentiated terminal -s and starting z- sounds.

It is of very poor quality speakers to forget the terminal -s in form of the immediate starting z- and pronounce 'picina' or 'pisina'. It sounds horrible.

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I don't really think it is "of very poor quality speakers" to pronounce it like "pisina" where "c" is pronounced like "s". I would say it is the standard in those places. Don't forget that Spanish is spoken in many countries, with a huge variability of pronounciations. –  MikMik Nov 25 '13 at 8:57
    
On "seseante" or "cecenate" zones it may be true, but for them does not sound horrible because it sounds tha same as their other usual words. I was (of course) talking of standard Spanish, that one which has not "seseo" nor "ceceo". –  Envite Nov 26 '13 at 9:46
    
Right, but that doesn't make non-standard Spanish speakers "poor quality speakers". –  MikMik Nov 26 '13 at 10:03
    
You missed me. Stadandard zone speakers who does not properly pronounce 'sci' are poor quality speakers. I meant nothing about non-standard zone speakers. I myself are from a non-standard zone (a "seseante" one) so I pronounce something like 'pissina', and when somebody with my own accent pronounces so it sounds normal to me, but when somebody from a standard zone pronounces 'pisina' or 'pizina' it sounds very awful to me as well. –  Envite Nov 26 '13 at 10:40
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Besides, calling standard Spanish the variation that only 10-15% of speakers hold... –  Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Nov 26 '13 at 10:51
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Technically, it's different : the "s" in piscina forms part of the previous syllable (pis-ci-na). In practice, the difference in pronounciation is practically null in regions with seseo (most Latin America), where then "s" is pronounced the same as the "c": in these regions piscina sounds practically the same as pisina, especially in informal conversation. More examples: ascenso, descendiente. In Spain, it would be different.

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