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English

I'm currently a Junior in High School in Washington State taking Spanish 2, and my teacher last year was from Argentina. She always pronounced y and ll like /ʒ/, but my teacher this year who is from Washington pronounced them like /y/. There have been some other minor pronunciation differences, but rather than settling for one of these I would like to learn to pronounce words in Spanish like those in Spain, the country it originated in, rather speaking it in a dialect that has experienced colonial lag. I am not asking just for the ll and the y, I would like to know if there is a comprehensive list for all the major pronunciation rules, such as how to pronounce v as in vino, c, s, and z, and rr (possibly others that I cannot think of). Thank you if you can help!

Intento de traducción a español.

Actualmente soy estudiante de secundaria en la escuela secundaria en el estado de Washington cursando Español 2, y mi maestro el año pasado fue de Argentina. Ella siempre pronunciaba y y ll como /ʒ/, pero mi maestro de este año, que es de Washington, los pronunció como /y/. Ha habido algunas otras diferencias menores de pronunciación, pero en lugar de centrarme únicamente en esto, me gustaría aprender a pronunciar las palabras en español como el de España, el país en que se originó, más que en un dialecto que ha experimentado una variación colonial. No estoy preguntando sólo por la ll y la y, me gustaría saber si hay una lista completa para todas las reglas de pronunciación principales: cómo pronunciar v en vino, c, s, z y rr (y posiblemente otros que no se me ocurre).

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    FWIW, there's sort of a standard dialect of Spanish in Spain, but not everyone in Spain speaks the same way. The letter v is pronounced the same as b in every context; I leave the rest for a full answer. – pablodf76 Oct 14 '18 at 13:27
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    For the sound of /s/, see: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/20995/… – pablodf76 Oct 14 '18 at 21:49
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I will explain the general rules for Spanish as spoken in Spain, but there's not a single way to pronounce Spanish in Spain: there is substantial regional variation. I'd also caution you to think of Latin American Spanish as having some sort of "lag". All dialects of Spanish have a number of features that are innovative to some degree (and often considered unacceptable for Standard Spanish) while preserving features that historically were more common but now are rare. Spanish was already a very diverse beast before expanding into the Americas. There's little rhyme or reason to it besides to some extent which parts of the Americas were populated by which groups from Spain and when that happened.

Vowels

Vowels are mostly the standard 5 that you are taught, with exceptionally small allophonic variations that aren't really worth talking about. However, if you opt to adopt to the aspirated syllable-final /s/ pronunciation, you should know that speakers in the South of Spain have a tendency to adjust vowel quality to increase the distinction between, for example, gata [gata] and gatas [gatas](norm) ~ [gatæ(h)](adjusted). Basically /-as/ is pronounced [-æ(h)], /-es/ is [-ɛ(h)], and /os/ is [-ɔ(h)] for these speakers.

Consonants

For /b/, /d/ and /g/, there is little difference with Latin America. Intervocalically, they soften, with the /d/ even disappearing sometimes in semi-formal speech. A word-final /d/ can be variably pronounced [d] ~ [t] ~ [θ]. In central Spain, [θ] is most common, hence one of the main local magazines is literally entitled Madriz. But in the northeast, that same /d/ will be more like [t]. Elsewhere, it may stay [d] or just disappear entirely. Note that the letter v is always pronounced /b/, identical to b.

The ll in some areas maintains distinction with y, and in others it doesn't. If you wish to maintain the distinction (also common in the Andes), you should pronounce the y very close to the English one. If you don't, aim for something between the English /y/ and /j/ (but closer to the /y/), and just like with native speakers, the actual pronunciation for a given word may end up sounding a bit more like one or the other, but it'll be quite close.

In many parts of Spain —like in some parts of Latin America— an /n/ at the end of an utterance will be [ŋ] instead the [n] that you might expect. This is most common in the North, South, and the Canaries, and not common in Central or Eastern Spain.

The /ks/ from x will be simplified most of the time in front of a consonant to just /s/. Hence texto and testo are identical in pronunciation. This can sometimes even spill over into intervocalic /x/ and result in something like taxi being /tasi/.

The /s/ has a variety of different sounds including [s̺] or [s]. The latter is pronounced like the English S, and the former is like that but with the tongue curled ever so slightly upwards, creating an almost sh like sound. At the end of syllables, it may be aspirated (particularly in the south) potentially resulting in vowel changes (see vowel section). It can even be [x] or [χ] in front of /k/. In front of voiced consonants, it can also voice, such that mesmo sounds like [mezmo] (English z sound).

The ch is generally as in English [t͡ʃ] but in the south can be simply pronounced as [ʃ] (like English sh).

The rr is pronounced as an alveolar trill, and there isn't really any variation on it.

The s/z distinction is the norm, but not universal. There are substantial areas in the South and a few in the northwest that do not distinguish them. In the northwest, it's universally pronounced like s, but in the south, some will pronounce both like s /s/ and others will pronounce both like z /θ/.

The h can be pronounced in some words in a few very small regions. As a result, words like albahaca, while normally being pronounced /al.ba'a.ka/, they will be pronounced /al.ba'ha.ka/. 99.999% of speakers in Spain will never pronounce the h.

The j and the g in combination with e or i tends to be pronounced further back in the both and with more friction than other dialects. Thus we could write it as [x] ~ [χ] instead of [h]. You'll definitely get the feeling you're coughing when pronouncing this correctly for European Spanish.

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    damn, you really put a lot of effort into this! – jstowell Oct 16 '18 at 23:19
  • @Jodast, Spanish using in Latin America is not less than Iberian Spanish; The countries in The Americas who official language is spanish have 417,615,000 inhabitans but Spain has only 46,700,000 inhabitans/ El español usado en latinoamérica no es menos que el español ibérico, los países en America que hablan español tienen 417,615,000 habitantes pero España solo tiene 46,700,000 habitantes; – alvalongo Oct 23 '18 at 16:31
  • @alvalongo so? I would rather speak a language like in her mother country than an adopted country. It makes the language feel more "pure" to me. Plus, I am 10x more likely to go to Spain, so it would be more useful to use Castilian Spanish. For the same reason, even though I live in america, I try to use British English (w/o the accent). – jstowell Oct 23 '18 at 16:41
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    @Jodast you are in United States, don't learn to pronounce words like Spain you will sound weird to spanish speaking people, It is best learn using neutral Spanish that is more o less using in Bogotá / Colombia, as some "CNN en español" hosts/ Ud. está en Estados Unidos, no aprenda a pronunciar como en España, sonará extraño a las personas que hablan español; es mejor aprender usando español neutral que es más o menos el que se usa en Bogotá /Colombia como algunos reporteros en "CNN en español" – alvalongo Oct 23 '18 at 16:43
  • @jodcast I can promise you that peninsular Spanish is not anymore pure Latin American Spanish, quite often it's less pure. Leísmo, laísmo, loísmo, expanded present perfect, gallicized vocabulary, loss of certain structures like voseo, etc, keep it far from that —and I say this as a speaker of peninsular Spanish. If you plan on going to Spain and spending more time there that's a great reason for focusing on peninsular Spanish, but for it being more pure doesn't make as much sense (because it's not very pure). – user0721090601 Oct 23 '18 at 16:52

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