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Pronunciation matters! In this video Miguel explains the pronunciation of the ce (C), the ese (S) and the zeta (Z) in different areas of the Hispanic world.
Hi! I’m Miguel from Real Spanish. From time to time you’ll see me here explaining some vocabulary, grammar or other aspects of Spanish. Today I am going to explain the various ways to pronounce the ese, the ce and the zeta in Spanish.
In most of Spain, the ese is pronounced like the words “sing”, “so”, and “civil” in English. Listen: seis, estrella, manos.
And the ce before an i or an e is pronounced like the “th” in “thing” or “through”. Listen: cena, acento, cita.
And the zeta is always pronounced like the “th” in “thing” and “through”. Listen: zapato, zeta, Cádiz.
There are those who say that this phenomenon arose because a king of Spain had a lisp, and the entire court imitated him to flatter him. But it’s just a story, it’s not true.
But in some parts of the south of Spain, the s, the ce and the zeta are pronounced the same: cena, acento, cita; zapato, zeta, Cádiz and in the last one, it is not even pronounced. This phenomenon is called seseo. This pronunciation came to America due to colonization, since most of the colonizers who came to America from Spain were from Andalusia.
But in other parts of Andalusia, the ese, the ce and the zeta are pronounced like the “th” in English. This phenomenon is called ceceo. Another phenomenon of Andalusian and Latin American speech is that the ese and zeta at the end of a word are aspirated: that is, they sound like a very soft hache.
Watch this clip, which is a report about the Spanish working day.
- Estoy trabajando hasta las ocho o las nueve de la noche, sin parar. Soy autónomo.
- Yo soy trabajadora y salgo a las diez o a las once de la noche del supermercado, asín que no estaría mal salir a las seis de la tarde.
- A las seis de la tarde y bueno, el resto de horas, ¿quién las hace?
In this clip you can hear the Argentinian accent. Also look at the stress and intonation, which are very typical of Argentinian pronunciation.
- Mirá, si entendés de estas cosas de dinero y de acciones tenés que explicarme un día…
- … porque yo no me entero de nada, me parece que tengo la cabeza muy dura.
- Pero mirá, de todas formas estos diez euros mejor me lo das ahora, no nos vayamos a olvidar más tarde, ¿viste?
- Sí, claro, te los doy ahora. Ya preguntaré para qué son, toma, aquí tienes.
Wherever you go in the Hispanic world, you will understand and be understood, no matter how you pronounce these sounds… and remember that all these accents are valid.
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