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Is Spanish language's pronunciation systematic? That is: do pronunciation and alphabet correspond to each other? If so, I will be able to learn Spanish's pronunciation easily.

¿Es la pronunciación del español sistemática? Es decir, ¿se corresponde el alfabeto con la pronunciación?

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Con muy escasas excepciones, la pronunciación del español es sistemática. Es decir: una persona que conozca las reglas del lenguaje debe ser capaz de leer correctamente cualquier texto escrito en español, aunque incluya palabras desconocidas para ella. La correspondencia inversa, en cambio, no existe: existen sonidos que se pueden representar por más de una letra, por lo que escuchar el sonido de una palabra no siempre nos indica unívocamente la forma en que se escribe.

Estas escasas excepciones suelen corresponder a palabras de origen extranjero. Así, la palabra freudiano se suele pronunciar /froidiáno/, la h de hockey se pronuncia aspirada y la palabra majorette se pronuncia /mayorét/. Estos casos vienen marcados muchas veces en el diccionario, habitualmente poniendo la palabra en cursiva, lo que indica un extranjerismo crudo (es decir, uno cuya grafía no se ha adaptado al español).

Otra excepción es la x arcaica, usada sobre todo en México. Por motivos históricos, se mantiene la x en la grafía de algunos nombres propios pese a que esa letra ya no se pronuncia con el sonido propio de la letra x. Por ejemplo, México se pronuncia /méjico/, no /méksico/.

Sin embargo, como digo, estas excepciones son escasas. La mayoría de los textos en español que puedas encontrar siguen las reglas de pronunciación y no ofrecen mayores problemas para un lector.

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    La única lengua que conozco que es más sistemática que el castellano es el serbio. En ese idioma se adaptan todos los vocablos extranjeros para que su pronunciación sea inequívoca, como si aquí escribiéramos Chaicofski (por Chaikovski) o oper (por au pair). – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Dec 15 '16 at 11:01
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    HAHAH I love that algunas respuestas are written in spanish y otras are escritas in English. – lois6b Dec 15 '16 at 16:00
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    @fedorqui la RAE lo hizo con algunas, cederrón siendo mi favorita. – mgarciaisaia Dec 15 '16 at 19:28
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    @fedorqui en japonés también sucede algo parecido, tienen un alfabeto silábico (katakana) para representar vocablos extranjeros con sonidos de la lengua – yms Dec 15 '16 at 22:38
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    @mgarciaisaia En general, la RAE sugiere formas de adaptar los extranjerismos a la ortografía española. No es nada nuevo: hoy día escribimos con naturalidad palabras como fútbol. Claro que estas recomendaciones no siempre son aceptadas por los hablantes y a veces mantenemos la ortografía original, a diferencia de lo que ocurre en lenguas como el serbio que menciona fedorqui. – Gorpik Dec 16 '16 at 8:52
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Spanish spelling is one of the most consistent ones, but there's NO such thing as a perfect alphabet which has 1 to 1 correspondences to sounds. This works in this way:

  • If you know the spelling, you know the pronunciation.
  • If you know the pronunciation, you know the spelling most times, but not always.

This is because there are:

  • different letters for the same sound (e.g. ‹j›, ‹g(e/i)› for /x/)
  • different sounds for the same letter (e.g. /k, θ/ can be represented by ‹c›)
  • a silent letter (‹h› except for ‹ch›)

But in general everything is quite consistent.

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  • I disagree that, "there's NO such thing as a perfect alphabet" with a 1-to-1 sound correspondence. There does not exist one that we know of, but you could create a two-character alphabet that transcodes binary to be able to fully express any existing language using only two sounds, which could be guaranteed to be distinct. – Eric Dec 15 '16 at 18:11
  • Ehhh, I guess. But definitely not applicable to what we can be talking about in a community about Spanish and "regular languages" :P – Paco Dec 15 '16 at 20:18
  • Of course. Just making it clear that it's possible, even if non-existent. ;) – Eric Dec 15 '16 at 20:20
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    I don't know that it's even possible. A given person doesn't use exactly the same sounds every time he says the same word. And who knows what new sounds tomorrow's pronunciation will bring? The "perfect alphabet" would have to anticipate all sounds in every use of every word of every language for the duration of the human race. – Tony Dec 16 '16 at 3:22
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Just to expand Paco answer to explain a little bit more the concept, lets take an easy example. The letter C will be ok I think.

When the letter that comes after C is a, o, u or any consonant, or when the letter C is the last letter of the word, you pronounce C as k. Some examples are frac, cnico, casa, cosa or curioso. In other case you pronounce C as s or z depending on the region and country.

Note that doesn't change the pronunciation of the vowels: casa doesn't pronunciate as kaisa, keisa or any other. The letter a keeps it own pronunciation whatever happens with C. Also in técnico both letters C and N keeps their own pronunciation, you just pronounce them one after another.

What happens with words that pronounce as k but have e or i? In that cases you use "qu" and don't pronounce the vowel u.
F.I. the words que, quitar, querer, pronounces as ke, kitar, kerer. As before, the rest of the letters keeps their own pronunciation.

So, as Paco said, all the thing is pretty consistent, and almost always you'll pronunciate each letter their own way, only one way.
But, as Paco said too, it's not a perfect 1:1 relation, there are some exceptions that you have to study and practice. There are not so much exceptions, I think five or six rules like the C one, but yes, they exists and you have to study them.

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  • And you missed the case where the c is followed by an h. – Gorpik Dec 15 '16 at 17:09

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