I am learning Castillian Spanish and have been given different information by 2 people from mainland Spain (Europe).

I understand that the v sounds like a b (also I've heard it described as a soft b) and this is a rule, but I'm sure there could be exceptions (I just haven't gotten to the exceptions as I learn). And this is the problem. I have a mobile phone app (Duolingo) and it sounds the word vino as vee-no.

My English mother in law who has spoken Spanish for 30 years says it's vee-no but my friend who is Spanish says it's bino (bee-no). I've also heard my Spanish teacher (originally from Valencia) sound it as vee-no (or I miss-heard).

My question is, is there a definite way to sound this word or could the differences be due to the locale within the country?

  • 5
    Same doubts were answered here spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/446/… Both sounds the same for me. As is described there 'Since the 1911 Gramática, the Academia ceased to explicitly recommend this differentiation'. So do not spend to much time on it :)
    – AlexBcn
    Mar 9 '16 at 14:49
  • @AlexBcn, Since the 1911 Gramática, the Academia ceased to explicitly recommend this differentiation'. - does this mean that at school in Spain (where Castilian is is the 'prominent' langauge) it's not taught as a 'b' sound? Or is it more Spanish people accept either?
    – Dave
    Mar 9 '16 at 15:49
  • I'm confused actually. The comment you cite shows there is no difference. If this is the case then is the answer to my question bee-no @AlexBcn ?
    – Dave
    Mar 9 '16 at 15:55
  • Is "annunicated" an English word?
    – Rodrigo
    Mar 9 '16 at 16:08
  • @Rodrigo He probably meant to say pronunciated.
    – Alejandro
    Mar 9 '16 at 17:45

There's a bit of a difference here between phonetics (represented between slashes //) and phonemics (represented between []).

Phonetically, in Spanish, B and V are always /b/. That is to say, in a given context (that is, surrounded by similar vowels, with similar stress, etc) they will generally be produced by speakers identically.

Now, that said, the phoneme /b/ has many different realizations, or allophones, that are possible.

  • At the beginning of words, and after consonants, you tend to get [b], like in bar or ven. (In English, at the beginning of words, /b/ becomes [bʰ], but this aspiration is non-existent in Spanish).
  • Between vowels, you get the so-called “soft” pronunciation, which is actually [β̞]. For example, cava, amaba
  • At the end of a syllable for example, obtener, absoluto, or club, the sound devoices to [β̞̥], which could be written [ɸ̞] but normally is cited as [p]).

But depending on the exact consonant that follows, it's possible for the /b/ to approach something sounding like [v]. In Spain, if someone is from Catalonia, it's possible that due to influence from their regional language (which has two separate phonemes /b/ and /v/), they will pronounce words using [v] where Catalonian would have /v/, which doesn't always line up with where Spanish uses V. (this is similar to when an English-speaker says ['pʰa.ɾa] for para instead of ['pa.ɾa]). But such a pronunciation in Spanish will generally be spontaneous and not particularly consistent even for a given person.

  • Intesteing read. So in the case of my quesion, is Vino pronounced one way or the other
    – Dave
    Mar 10 '16 at 7:59
  • this should be marked as an important answer. Mar 10 '16 at 10:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.