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I have been taught in Spanish, native speakers usually pronounce “ll” as a “y” or a “j” in English, depending on what region they are from. However, I have watched Spanish-speaking Youtubers and they seem to mix both pronunciations into what they say.

An example is Iro Ramirez from Colombia, although I can’t remember the videos in which he demonstrated such “mixing”.

Is it regional pronunciation? Why bother pronouncing the same thing in two different ways?

  • it could be the case that the person has spent a signifficant part of his life in both regions, picking up both accents, mixing it. It happens to me – Iria Jan 28 at 10:51
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    It may depend on how the person gets used to pronounce some words. In my region it is common for people to pronounce the 'c' as an 's', but as there are also many people who distinguish both pronunciations, it is also common for some people to pronounce the 'c' as 'c' in some words and as 's' in others. – Charlie Jan 28 at 12:26
  • @Charlie example please? – Axel Tong Jan 28 at 12:26
  • I can't tell, I'm speaking about what I hear around me. I can't point you to any youtuber or anything. – Charlie Jan 28 at 12:28
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    First Iro Ramirez is from the caribbean region of Colombia (Barranquilla) and they have lots of slang. Second, in this video youtube.com/watch?v=cJpsGxhvMVw he switches back and forth from both ll pronunciations because one is his native way but he wants to sound more "generic" without much success. Third I did not enjoy watching his video to find this out. I would not recommend that particular channel to practice Spanish unless you are planning a trip to that specific city – DGaleano Jan 28 at 16:42
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Most Spanish speakers pronounce ll and y the same. One of the most common realizations of this merged sound is [ʝ], the voiced palatal fricative. This sound is sometimes found as an affricate, [ɟʝ]. (For easy reference: [ʝ] is to [ɟʝ] what "sh" is to "ch".) The affricate version might appear when the sound is word- or phrase-initial, and after some consonants. It can also appear if the speaker is trying to emphasize the sound.

Besides this, there's always the possibility of so-called "free variation", that is, the speaker might pronounce a given phoneme using several variants chosen more or less at random. This can happen when the phoneme in question is not easy to confuse with others in the same language. Since the sound of ll~y is not very frequent and also not very similar to any other frequent phonemes in Spanish, speakers can afford to pronounce it somewhat carelessly, using variants that are that phonetically close to the basic, "standard" realization, because hearers aren't likely to mistake it for another consonant.

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    Yes. I agree. Most of us choose a way to pronounce that sound and stick to it. In the case of the idiotic videos mention in the question, the guy tries to sound more neutral and less "caribe" so he switches between sounds. The answer to "Why bother pronouncing the same thing in two different ways?" should be: You shouldn't. – DGaleano Jan 29 at 13:02

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