I've read the following: "La expresión inglesa craft beer tiene alternativas en español como cerveza artesana o artesanal"

And now I want to understand how do Spanish-speaking people pronounce English words (e.g. "beer"). Are there any rules?:)

(I don't speak natively English nor Spanish)

Update. I have heard recently on the radio RockFM (Madrid) how a presenter pronounces song names (which are in English). He doesn't try to sound like a Londoner but just says English words with Spanish accent. And so do I when I need to add some English words to my Russian speech:) It sounds a little funny.)

An example. In English there're diphthongs like beer, Google, etc. Are they read in Spanish world commonly like [b e e r] or [b i r], [g o o g l] or [g u g l]? [æpl] or [ʌple]? As far as I know -ing is pronounced like [i n].

  • The answer to this question varies greatly on region. Which region are you most interested in learning about? – Flimzy Dec 29 '17 at 10:20
  • @Flimzy well... Let's speak about Spain... Or Mexico.) – Andrey Makarov Dec 29 '17 at 11:23
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    The answer must also depend on whether the speaker knows how to pronounce English words. – mdewey Dec 29 '17 at 14:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is subjective and it is not about Spanish but how English is pronounced by people that do not speak English. – DGaleano Dec 29 '17 at 15:25
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    Let me explain. It is off-topic because it is highly subjective and there is no rule. Using your examples, if someone doesn't know how to pronounce Google and says g o o g l e it doesn't mean that it is the way it is pronounced in Spanish. It means that person is from Mars of something. How do people in Russia pronounce Google? It is the same. You either know how to pronounce it or you don't but it has nothing to do with the language (Spanish, Russian, etc.) and if you don't then you make an attempt based on what you know but each person will make a different attempt and get his own result – DGaleano Dec 29 '17 at 15:40

Words in English continue to belong to that language even if said within the context of another language.

There will be people who, ignorant of their proper pronunciation or, even if aware of it, reluctant to pronounce in English within a Spanish context, will pronounce those words incorrectly, similarly to how they would pronounce them in Spanish (for example, /krafber/).

What you have read is quite explicit as to the presence of an English phrase within a Spanish sentence. Reference is also made to the English origin of the phrase and to its translation in Spanish. Besides, you are reading something that is written – in what circumstances would it be necessary to actually pronounce “craft beer”? In an oral presentation, the expression would most probably be written for attendants to understand.

I largely agree with mdewey’s comment that the way in which an English word is pronounced within a Spanish context depends on the knowledge the speaker has of the foreign language. Unlike in Portuguese, where even speakers well-versed in English will make English words sound as they would according to the phonetic system in Portuguese (saying, for example, something similar to /aushtrichi/ for “Wall Street”), in Spanish speakers will pronounce English words more or less accurately according to their degree of knowledge of that language.

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  • Why there's a different approach in Portuguese? As for Russian language, I think that trying to use another completely different phonetic system makes the whole sentence very unnatural. – Andrey Makarov Dec 29 '17 at 16:29
  • @AndreyMakarov I think there must be some nationalistic pride in Portuguese speakers always adapting English words to their own phonetics -- whatever they say in Portuguese will sound like Portuguese even if the origin is different. I think that is a most remarkable feature. – Gustavson Dec 29 '17 at 21:06

As for sounds, languages differ in two aspects: what contrasts they recognize among spoken sounds (phonemics) and how those sounds are actually produced (phonetics). When native Spanish speakers who don't also speak English have to produce an English word, these two will act in succession (forgetting for the moment the matter of orthography).

First the Spanish speaker will try to match the English sounds to the Spanish phonemic system. English has more consonants than Spanish and many more vowels, so the matching process will discard many English sound contrasts from the get-go. For example, in British English craft is pronounced with a long low back vowel, /ɑː/, while in the US it's pronounced with a short low-mid front vowel, /æ/. These have no phonemic counterpart in Spanish, they'll be conflated as /a/. Depending on the speaker and the dialect, even the low-mid back vowel /ʌ/ of cruft will be mapped to Spanish /a/.

The same goes for short and long /ɪ/ and /iː/ (as in tin and teen), which will be mapped to Spanish /i/, and for the schwa, which might end up as /a/ or maybe /e/ (beer /bɪə/ or /biːɹ/ will probably end up as /biar/).

Once this mapping has taken place, there comes the second part: adapting the phonetics. Spanish speakers might recognize a phonemic contrast and employ it, but the actual realization of the sound might not be the same as in English. For example, both languages have two series of stops, voiceless and voiced, /p t k b d g/, which are readily recognizable, but they don't realize them in the same way. English voiced stops remain stops between vowels, but Spanish turns them into fricatives; English voiceless stops are initially aspirated, while Spanish ones are not. That's why Spanish speakers sometimes render two as [tʃu] (as if they were pronouncing a Spanish word chu): because aspiration is not something Spanish has. Furthermore, English stops /t d/ are alveolar, while Spanish /t d/ are dental. And the English r has a handful of possible realizations, none of which coincide with the Spanish alveolar tap (the r in toro).

Spanish also has a more restricted syllable structure (phonotactics), so upon encountering an English word like craft, Spanish speakers will tend to simplify it to something like *craf (no Spanish words have a final /f/, but it's easy enough to produce one).

All of this assumes the Spanish speaker in question has no experience of hearing English and/or training in English pronunciation, which, depending on the region, socioeconomic status and the like, might be more or less unlikely.

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