7

I was taught that Spanish d has two pronunciations: at the beginning of the word it is a hard d; between vowels, it is pronounced /ð/, much like th in English the.

Please look at this sentence:

Nosotros nos reunimos para dar la bienvenida a la profesora.

Should I say /para ðar la/ or /para dar la/?

  • 1
    Welcome, @gus, to our site! You've asked two excellent questions. However, you have asked two distinct questions here. I have removed your second question, to keep this one better focused. I encourage you to ask your second question (about the pronunciation of /b/) as a second question! – Flimzy Aug 3 '14 at 22:09
  • Please note that right way to write your example is Nosotros nos reunimos para dar la bienvenida a la profesora. You could also omit the nosotros. – Vladimir Nul Sep 11 at 11:37
  • Official reference (from the RAE): NGLE, Fonética y fonología (sección 4.2f). – pablodf76 Sep 11 at 22:47
  • I've corrected the example as per @VladimirNul 's observation. – pablodf76 Sep 14 at 1:18
11

This is a good question, and unfortunately the answer is, "it depends". The Spanish letter d has different pronunciations depending on where it comes in a word.

  • Word-initially, it will generally have a sound closer to the English d, although pronounced with the tongue behind the teeth, rather than upon the upper alveolar ridge (on the hard palate).

  • Intervocalically (between vowels), the Spanish d is normally realized as /ð/, that is, the same sound you make when you say the word rather. In some dialects, it may be /Ø/ (elided/silent) if it comes before the last syllable.

  • Word-finally, the pronunciation will vary a bit more. The four most common pronunciations are /d/ (like word-initial), /t/ (also with tongue behind teeth), /θ/ (as in thistle), or /Ø/. This is heavily dependent on dialect.

Now you'd think the answer would be easy. dar has a word-initial d, so it should sound /d/. However, in Spanish, many words will often be pronunced together as if they were a single word, especially in fast speech. Prepositions, object pronouns, demonstratives, and articles are the most likely to be "joined" to a more significant word, generally a verb/noun/adjective.

I would normally have the following word groupings in speech:

  • (nosotros) (nos reunimos) (para dar) (la bienvenida) (a la profesora)

Why is this significant? Because each group is pronounced as if a single word, that is, as if it read nosotros nosreunimos paradar labienvenida alaprofesora. In this case, you can see that the d is now positioned between two vowels, and would thus be pronounced /ð/.

On the other hand, let's say you trail off after saying para because you were deciding between saying dar la bienvenida and saludar. Notice how the grouping changes:

  • (nosotros) (nos reunimos) (para...) (ehm...) (dar) (la bienvenida) (a la profesora)

Now dar is back to its own word group, and will get the word-initial pronounciation of /d/.

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Actually, we Spanish speakers are not aware that 'd' has different sounds. There might be different sounds (I'd say it depends on regions) but to me (Argentine) our 'd' is similar to English 'd', only that a little softer. You can pronounce that way always and it won't never sound wrong. We never stick the tongue between-out of the teeth (as in "this").

  • completamente de acuerdo, cuando uno está en el proceso de lecto-escritura solo existe una manera de pronunciar la consonante D, – alvalongo Sep 11 at 22:35
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I agree with Leonbloy. While I found that in some cities of Spain the "d" at the end of the words sounds like "z":

  • Madrid is pronounced: "Madriz"
  • David is pronounced: "Daviz"

...in Argentina, I never heard someone pronouncing the "d" any different being at the beginning, the modle or the end of the word.

For your reference, in Spanish each vocal preceded by a D will sound:

da: as in DAd

de: as in DElaware

di: as in CanaDIans

do: as in DOnald

du: as in DUbai duːˈbaɪ (like doo-BYE) -could not think any better example!

  • Welcome, onpre. It may be that you received a downvote because the information about vowel pronunciation is tangential to what was asked here. Also, perhaps someone familiar with the various variants of Spanish pronunciation active in Spain found your assertions inaccurate. (I'm not sure about that because I'm fuzzy about Old World Spanish.) – aparente001 Sep 14 at 3:29
  • Hola, onpre! No todo el mundo se da cuenta de las pequeñas diferencias que existen en la pronunciación de las consonantes según su posición. Para los que somos hablantes nativos es especialmente difícil, porque tenemos todas las variantes interiorizadas como el mismo sonido; pero para los extranjeros es más obvio. Te sugiero que te fijes bien en la posición de tu lengua al pronunciar "dame" tanto en "Dame eso y pará" como en "Pará y dame eso", a ver si notas alguna diferencia. – walen Sep 14 at 9:38

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