I have an audiobook (meant for beginners learning Spanish) where the speaker has an accent I don't recognize. I know that in Spain some z's and c's are pronounced like an English th (IPA: ⟨θ⟩). But in this audiobook even many s's sound that way to me. For example, he pronounces "está cansado" like "eθtá canθado", or "su sueño" like "θu θueño".

I also heard another word that sounded odd. "tortilla" was pronounced so that the ll had a distinct l (ell) and y sound. Sort of like: tor-til-ia.

Perhaps I should upload some audio snippets.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? To me it almost sounds like someone is trying to fake like they are from Spain and doing a bad job of it! If so, I will stop listening to this audiobook.

  • 7
    In Andalucía, ceceante speakers will use [θ] for both /s/ and /θ/. If you are not used to hearing [ʎ] because you're familiar with yeísta dialects (and thus tend to hear [ʝ] for ll), it may be an authentic sound. If you are used to the way a true [ʎ] sounds, then it may indeed be a bad attempt (as [lj] is the most common manifestation of [ʎ] by yeístas trying to mimic it). However, virtually all ceceantes are yeístas, so the combination on the surface sounds odd. Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 5:49
  • 2
    Yes, this is called "ceceo" and is done in some parts of the south of Spain. More information in this question.
    – wimi
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 7:49
  • What you are describing is "seseo" and "yeismo" Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 5:28

1 Answer 1


So this does not go unanswered here are some references.

The DPD gives a brief explanation of ceceo

ceceo. Consiste en pronunciar la letra s con un sonido similar al que corresponde a la letra z en las hablas del centro, norte y este de España (→ z, 2a); así, un hablante ceceante dirá [káza] por casa, [zermón] por sermón, [perzóna] por persona. El ceceo es un fenómeno dialectal propio de algunas zonas del sur de España y está mucho menos extendido que el seseo (→ seseo).

The link to seseo provides a description of the opposite phenomenon.

seseo. 1. Consiste en pronunciar las letras c (ante e, i) y z con el sonido que corresponde a la letra s (→ s, 2); así, un hablante seseante dirá [serésa] por cereza, [siérto] por cierto, [sapáto] por zapato.

  1. El seseo es general en toda Hispanoamérica y, en España, lo es en Canarias y en parte de Andalucía, y se da en algunos puntos de Murcia y Badajoz. También existe seseo entre las clases populares de Valencia, Cataluña, Mallorca y el País Vasco, cuando hablan castellano, y se da asimismo en algunas zonas rurales de Galicia. El seseo meridional español (andaluz y canario) y el hispanoamericano gozan de total aceptación en la norma culta.

There is more detail about the historical development of these in the Wikipedia article on development of sibilants in Spanish

There is a separate issue about the pronunciation of -ll- which is covered in the Wikipedia article on yeismo. The article has maps of the distribution of the distinct sounds. It also covers the pronunciation in Rioplatense as zheismo.

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