9

“Tu” and “tú” are the same spelling, except for the accent. Are words like “tú” and “mí” pronounced differently from how they would be without the accent?

9

Yes and no.

They are pronounced the same in isolation. However, the words tu and mi lack prosodic stress, that is, like a very limited number of words in Spanish (prepositions, articles, object pronouns), within a sentence they will not be stressed. When you say en mi casa, for instance, you only stress the first a of casa: /en.mi'ka.sa/. The rule in Spanish for unstressed words is that they will be pronounced as if they are part of the next word that has prosodic stress (this is why you have to write enclitic pronouns as one word, to show they are pronounced with the previous word instead).

On the other hand, and like most Spanish words do have prosodic stress and will always receive a stress: a mí me gusta is /a'mi me'gus.ta/.

The effect goes a bit beyond just stress though, as stress influences things like vowel elision or reduction (tu amor will probably be pronounced /twa'mor/ but tú amabas will have a clear haitus /'tu a'ma.bas/).

1
  • 2
    Great answer. Suggest you strengthen it by including example of enclitic pronoun. Not everyone will understand the technical term. Also you could use localized bolding to show stress as an alternative notation, maybe. Aug 25 '19 at 3:55
0

I have a simple example from an English speaker's perspective.

“Tú” with the tilde, the letter is stressed. It sounds like:

This deal sounds too good.

"Tu" without the tilde sounds like:

I want to laugh.

5
  • I get what you're trying to say, but in many English dialects unstressed "to" is pronounced /tə/ with a schwa.
    – jacobo
    Aug 31 '19 at 14:32
  • @u you're right I didn't realize that
    – jasonwubz
    Aug 31 '19 at 16:57
  • @ukemi - I think that's exactly what jasonwubz was explaining, in his own way, without the specific jargon (schwa) you referenced. Many native speakers of English are unaware of the term schwa. If you are saying that this answer is lacking, because it didn't use the term schwa, I disagree. (But maybe I misunderstood what you were getting at.) Aug 31 '19 at 20:22
  • @aparente001 - The difference in the Spanish pronunciation is one of (phrasal) stress, but the vowel articulation itself remains unchanged, they're both [u]. In English, the unstressed /u/ vowel (in British, American etc dialects) additionally changes quality, to a schwa. Hence the analogy may be misleading.
    – jacobo
    Aug 31 '19 at 21:40
  • @ukemi - Ah, I see what you mean now. Still, I personally do like analogies to inspire intuitive understanding. Sep 1 '19 at 0:16
0

I would say they are pronounced the same and that the difference in writing is to distinguish one word from the other. There might be a difference in stress as the person above wrote, but I can't hear it for itself. "Tú, madre,..." (You, mother,...) would sound different than "Tu madre" (your mom) to me because there is a comma there that makes you stop, implies that you are talking to someone by name and therefore has a tone like in "hey, mother" and not because there is an accent. Same goes for "No te preocupes por mí, mamá" (don't worry about me, mom) and "No the preocupes por mi mamá" (Don't worry about my mom). If you are a beginner in Spanish though, I wouldn't stress about it ;)

2
  • Welcome to the site, Sabrina. Interesting point of view. Hmm. What do you think about @guifa's specific examples supporting a slightly different point of view? Aug 31 '19 at 20:27
  • Thank you! Well, I think he must be very knowledgeable but I also think it is a very technical and advanced answer even for a natives speaker. It could be because native speakers don't think about about stresses while speaking. I do think though, that as a learner if you worry about the stress of them, it will show and it will make you sound robotic. I would rather focus on the meaning of the words and the commas. Aug 31 '19 at 20:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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