Some friends of mine insist that in some varieties of Spanish, words like cuello and yo have the palatal glide [j] in them. However, I've only ever found the palatal lateral liquid [ʎ] or the palatal voiced fricative [ʝ] in transcriptions of these sort of words. Are there any varieties of Spanish where the palatal glide [j] is actually used?


As a general matter and not to cover every single instance of this phenomenon, the following is true.

palatal glide:

In linguistics, a "palatal glide" is the term for the speech sound represented by the letter "y" in the English alphabet, and the letter [j] in the phonetic transcription. A palatal glide is produced by holding the tongue high in the mouth, forcing air along the palate. Palatal glides are found, for example, in the first syllable of "yes" and the last syllable of "boy."

palatal glide

Of course. One of the first things an intermediate or advanced Spanish class teacher will point out that the ll sound in most regions of Spain is like a y (a palatal glide in English) and in Argentina (Rio Plate region), Uruguay and parts of Chile, it's like a j or sh sound (depending on how you describe it using the regular alphabet),

In parts of Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Chile, the "ll" sound which is usually pronounced like a "y", sounds more like a "j" or "sh".

So, cuello (with the [j], or y sound] becomes cu-eh-joe, that is: cuesho (with the /ʃ/ sound).

  • caballo becomes cabajoe or cabasho.

This is informally referred to in English when describing this pronunciation as shushing.

The linguistic writing for this is: /ʃ/ (sh).

In sum, the ll or [j] becomes sh/j or /ʃ/.

How Spanish is pronounced in regions


The pronunciation of the word yo by people from Santiago del Estero, a province in northern Argentina may sound as what I understand the palatal glide sound is. I am basing my recomendation on this video, in which at minute 4:38 the glide sound is presented (as produced with very little constriccion of flow, so little in fact that they are often refered as sunny vowels [j] )

Hear an artist (from that region) pronouncing that peculiar way as it is common there. The portion that matters starts at sec 19 and ends at sec 25, where he says

(...) muchas gracias. Ustedes saben que yo [io] vengo desde Quimili a entregarles una sonrisa (...)

  • Hi. I'd like to copyedit this part: "may sound as what I understand that the palatal glide sound appears" but I'm not sure exactly what you meant. Can you explain it another way, or in Spanish? – aparente001 Jan 17 '20 at 4:18
  • I slightly corrected using "may sound as what I understand the palatal glide sound is" Does that come more clear? – ipp Jan 17 '20 at 14:45
  • @ipp Isn't this sunny vocalization of the OP's liquid lambda called yeísmo? It's common in Chile, too. – Conrado Apr 6 '20 at 23:57
  • Like this: spanish.stackexchange.com/q/31524/24536 – Conrado Apr 7 '20 at 0:01

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