The letter "c" (before "e"/"i") is generally pronounced as [θ] in Castilian Spanish, and [s] in Andalusian/"Latin American" Spanish.

Likewise, "j" (and "g" before "e"/"i") is generally pronounced [χ] in Castilian Spanish and [x~h] in Andalusian/"Latin American" Spanish.

However, I have noticed some words don't follow this rule e.g.:

Is there a way to predict how such words are pronounced?

  • 4
    The examples you give are foreign words so their pronunciation does not have to follow the usual rules. English is the same, we say chello not cello imitating the Italian and the same is true for other borrowings like concerto,, ciabatta.
    – mdewey
    Jun 16, 2021 at 12:29
  • 2
    spanish.stackexchange.com/helpFirst, make sure that your question is on-topic for this site. You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.//No need to be rude.
    – Lambie
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:49
  • 2
    @ArunabhBhattacharya maybe the DPD (Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas) could help you with the loanwords (like Garaje, Whiskey or Violonchelista). Also the Fundéu (in google, you could find this resources, but you must understand some spanish)
    – VeAqui
    Jun 22, 2021 at 2:31

4 Answers 4


Loanwords often take on various pronunciations, usually corresponding to:

  • the original written word pronounced as if it were using Spanish orthography
    e.g. iceberg /iθeˈbeɾɡ/ (Spain)
  • an emulation of the original spoken word
    e.g. iceberg /ˈaisbeɾɡ/ (Lat. Am.)

(or something in-between).

Note the RAE dislikes the use of foreign orthographies (unless italicised), and proposes the alternatives piyama and violonchelo for the "Latin American" pronunciations.

  • 1
    Exactly, I write "piyama" and "violonchelo" in Argentinian spanish. Jun 1, 2022 at 23:29

There is no absolute way to "predict" how such words are pronounced. Your own examples show the variations in broad geographic areas. Pronunciation in these areas is somewhat predictable, but can vary with individuals or groups of speakers depending on such factors as one's familiarity with the original language, analogy with similar native words, how one first encounters the foreign term (written or spoken), education level, social class and other, idiosyncratic, personal quirks. Attempts at rules or norms for how foreign words are pronounced, which you seem to be asking for, are routinely ignored or violated. However, available descriptions of how various foreign words and borrowings are pronounced are explicit and fairly accurate, and can be as useful to someone curious about the subject, say, a language learner, as proscriptive rules. One suggestion I have is that you think less about how "letters" are pronounced, and focus on how sounds are produced and subsequently represented. Most alphabets are inexact, at best. We tend to forget that languages in essence are independent of writing, and broadly adhere to their own internal rules, independent of arbitrary though useful written models.


NO, no hay manera de saberlo, y menos si son palabras tomadas de otro idioma.

Lo que si es cierto es que en España existe la tendencia a pronunciar las palabras extranjeras que se han adoptado al español usando las reglas fonéticas del español.

En cambio en los países de América que hablan español se tiene a respetar mas la pronunciación original o nativa.


The pronunciation of words is an aspect that has varied for centuries. Communication with people, as seen in history, has sometimes become essential in preventing wars and maintaining peace around the cities. As years pass by, however, different events have influenced the way people talk to each other. For instance, the Conquest of Mexico (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_conquest_of_the_Aztec_Empire) was an event in which two completely distinct cultures with their own lives (Indígenas and Europeans) coexisted and communicated through people who translated their languages of origin. Nonetheless, after centuries, the Spanish language as we know it today was the primary spoken language in Mexico.

All this coexistence with other cultures has led languages to change, and along with them, the pronunciation, and dialects of people.

Another aspect that is important to mention is that, although some words may change through decades, people who were used to employ them in the way they were used to didn't change the way they spoke the word. Instead, they continue speaking the way they knew the word and shared it with others. This way, sometimes words are maintained through history and don't change, although this can mean that only a few portion of people speak the language.

  • 2
    Note that the examples given by the OP are foreign words.
    – mdewey
    Jun 16, 2021 at 15:16
  • 1
    @mdewey Exactly, however, as I stated, the crossing of cultures allowed for foreign words to become part of the language. Jun 16, 2021 at 15:33
  • And "pizza" from Italian is being used in all languages.
    – Arunabh
    Jul 3, 2021 at 3:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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