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In Spanish, English names are usually pronounced following English rules. E.g. we pronounce "Peter" as "piter" (that's to be read in plain Spanish, i.e. "pee-ter").

However, some tech-related words like programming language names (and especially acronyms) are pronounced following Spanish rules by a significant percentage of Spanish-speaking people. Examples (based on my own experience):

  • C#: some people say "ce sarp", some people say "ce sostenido" or "ce almohadilla".
  • Python: some people say "piton", some people say "paiton", some say "paizon".
  • JSON: some people say "yeison", some people say "jota son".
  • Java: some people say "java". Well, everybody I know, actually.

Now, I guess that there might be a rule about how to pronounce these names. BUT, I'm of the opinion that there's no point in speaking in a way that makes it harder for others to understand me. And I'm pretty sure that many many people would need a second take if I said that I worked with "yava".

So how should I pronounce foreign technical words in Spanish? Should I pronounce it following the rules of the original language, should I use Spanish pronunciation, or something in between?

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    En Python use "import castellano" :) – Robert Columbia Oct 16 '17 at 13:22
  • I say Paizon :O – fedorqui Oct 16 '17 at 13:36
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    I remember being surprised when someone talked about ce mas mas for C++ – mdewey Oct 16 '17 at 13:45
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    @mdewey Back in the 90s, many an English speaker were befuddled by Spaniards talking about "MS 2" instead of "MS DOS". Fun times. – walen Oct 16 '17 at 13:50
  • En las tecnologías cuyos nombres son siglas: JSON, CSS, XML, etc. para mi lo lógico es pronunciarlas en español como es lo habitual. Lo que ocurre es que estos términos vienen del inglés y se acaba importando la pronunciación original, salvando las distancias. En mi caso pronuncio casi todas estas palabras como se leen en español, sean siglas o no. – blonfu Oct 16 '17 at 16:26
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The RAE describes several possible approaches of pronouncing and spelling terms imported from another language.

  1. "Mantenimiento de la grafía original, pero con pronunciación a la española y acentuación gráfica según las reglas del español. [Por ejemplo] para el anglicismo airbag (pronunciado en inglés [érbag]) se propone la pronunciación [airbág], o para master, la grafía con tilde máster." (2.2.a) Se escribe en letra redonda.

    In other words, leave the spelling as is, and don't use italics or quotation marks, and pronounce the word according to the phonetical rules of Spanish. (Note, "airbag" does not sound the same as "érbag would." Also note, it looks rather as though the RAE wrote a tilde in the word in brackets, airbág, even though it wasn't needed, to make things extra clear.)

  2. "Mantenimiento de la pronunciación original, pero adaptando la forma extranjera al sistema gráfico del español. Así, para el anglicismo paddle se propone la adaptación pádel, y para el galicismo choucroute, la grafía adaptada chucrut." (2.2.b)

    In other words, adapt the English pronunciation as closely as is possible for the non-bilingual speaker, and adjust the way the word is written, to fit with the Spanish-style pronunciation.

  3. "Mantenimiento de la grafía y pronunciación originarias. Se trata de extranjerismos asentados en el uso internacional en su forma original, como ballet, blues, jazz o software. En este caso se advierte de su condición de extranjerismos crudos y de la obligación de escribirlos con resalte tipográfico (cursiva o comillas) para señalar su carácter ajeno a la ortografía del español, hecho que explica que su pronunciación no se corresponda con su forma escrita." (2.1)

    In other words, leave the original spelling, and respect the original pronunciation as much as possible.

The industry develops terms faster than RAE (or speakers) can keep pace with in making adaptations. So for IT terms you often end up using a variety of approaches, depending on how familiar Spanish speakers are with the term or its English pronunciation.

Please note that people in the software industry don't consistently follow one particular rule. Note, I have never heard anyone call a while loop a "bucle güile", nor have I seen anyone write "procidur".

Bottom line, if you don't see a word marked with italics or quotes (as in #3), you're probably best off pronouncing it "a la española," as in #1, but with perhaps some adjustment, e.g.: "interface" becomes interfaz.

The above answer is written assuming you are living in a Spanish-speaking country. If you are a Spanish speaker, living in an English speaking country, talking with other Spanish speakers, things can get even more complicated.

  • Ah, good ol' "interface"... I've heard it pronounced "interfeis", "interface" and even "interfache" a la Italian. Anyways... From your answer I understand that I should be saying "jotason" if I read JSON, but "yeison" if I read JSON? How about in normal conversation, not reading? Or does it all depend on who am I talking to (based on the "people not consistent" part)? – walen Oct 16 '17 at 13:40
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    What you suggest is my understanding about what you should do if you want to play by the (RAE's) rules. My advice would be to go with what people in the industry use, since the RAE will take time to catch up with all the neologisms and either adapt them (as 2.2.b) or incorporate them as anglicisms. – Diego Oct 16 '17 at 20:39
  • Interfaz es más bien un calco, porque face=faz/haz, e Inter existe en ambos idiomas. Siguiendo 2.2b, tendríamos interfés o quizás interféis – user0721090601 Oct 23 '17 at 4:17
  • @Diego - If you don't like the revamp please roll back. (I went in there originally intending to make "bottomline" two words, but one thing led to another....) – aparente001 Jun 3 '18 at 21:48
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I'm a programmer myself, and you will not find a rule. Many people pronunce this as written in spanish, so "json" becomes "jota son" (for the letter j) , while other people say "jay-son". A very interesting one is "SQL", that many people read as "sequel" and many other as "S", "Q", "L". I think if you are a bit old and you studied from english resources, you use the english pronunciation. Nowadays you can find documentation in spanish for anything, so you pronunce it in spanish.

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