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Segovia (pronunciation)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Phil-Olly, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Phil-Olly Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Can somebody clarifyfor me the pronunciation of 'o' in Spanish?


    My Madrileno teachertold me that the Spanish 'o' is always as in the English 'hot' –never as in 'rose'. Indeed that the latter vowel sound is adiphthong (ǝ+ u) and, to Spanish ears, that is how it sounds – not like an'o' at all.


    SoI try to remember to keep my 'o's open – and pronounce MedinaSidonia to rhyme with Sonia etc. And I assumed that Segovia wouldrhyme with the Spanish word 'novia'.


    Recently,however, I have heard Segovia pronounced by Spanish people the way wewould tend to pronounce it in the UK – with that 'ǝu'diphthong.


    DidI mishear? Is this a sound somewhere between 'o' and 'ǝu'? Or does the 'ǝu'diphthong exist in Spanish after all?
     
  2. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Hello.

    Segovia is never pronounced in Spain that way: /ǝu/. That 'o' does not sound as a diphthong but a single vowel, like in Sonia, novia, etc. as you said.

    I suppose those people are just pronouncing it as in English as they're in the UK.

    More replies will come. Saludos.
     
  3. Phil-Olly Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    No these were Spanish people in Madrid. Perhaps they were 'translating' for my benefit. But I also thought I heard it pronounced that way on the Spanish TV News.
     
  4. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Well, I'm from Madrid and no, it's not pronounced /ǝu/.;)

    I think that it may be just a question of that particular 'o', and that some non-native speakers can hear the other sound instead.

    Please wait for more detailed explanations about this.
     
  5. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    1- Yes.
    2- No.
    3- No.


    Spanish o is never pronounced like the "o" in "love", the "o" in "prove” or the”o“ in”go”. It's always pronounced like the “o” in “not” (British pronunciation/ RP).

    Yo, ellos, no, coro, lobo, toro, solo, Segovia, novio, bobo, Manolo, hola, ola, Guardiola have all exactly the same pronunciation as far as the “o” is concerned.
     
  6. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Sí, pero a mí me gustaría que algún forero diera, si es posible, alguna explicación más 'técnica' sobre ello (hay expertos en pronunciación en los foros). Porque puede que haya una razón concreta por la que a Phil le parezca oír ese sonido en esa palabra en concreto.
     
  7. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    I've done some formal study of Spanish phonology, and I know of no reason why the [o] of "Segovia" might give the auditory impression of a diphthong.
    I want to advise speakers of American English not to be confused by the statements that Spanish [o] is like the "o" of English "hot" or "not",
    and that it is not like the "o" in "go". These statements are for British consumption only.:)
    The "o" of "go" in Am.Eng. is also diphthongized to some degree, but it's the best approximation we have for Spanish [o].
    Better yet would be the "o" of "go" in Jamaican English.
     
  8. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    Yo no le daría mayor importancia. Posiblemente, el subconsciente británico o escocés de Phil le haya jugado una mala pasada. Nos pasa a todos cuando estamos aprendiendo otra lengua.
    Les pasa también a mis amigos españoles, que cuando están escuchando una canción en inglés creen oír cosas que parecen ser y en realidad no lo son.
    En fin, es lo que hay.
     
  9. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Creo que la solución está en mirar el idioma nativo del escucha. Lamentablemente, todos escuchamos los sonidos que 'sabemos' y aproximamos los que no. Quiero decir que no le erramos solamente al hablar, sino también al escuchar.

    En el caso de Segovia, la duda pudo venir de la consonante siguiente, que al ser labial, tira a una 'u' (que también es labial). Prueben decirlo rápido y van a ver a qué me refiero.
     
  10. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Ya han venido los expertos.;) Gracias, Cenzontle y Duvija.

    Duvija, la verdad es que nunca he tenido muy buen oído para los idiomas. A mí me cuesta bastante ver que tira a 'u', pero seguramente es porque es mi lengua materna y por lo que acabo de comentar. Creo que puede ser una buena explicación.

    Un saludo.
     
  11. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Probá, (tal vez frente a un espejo) a decir esa palabra. Ponemos la boca para pronunciar la [o] y de inmediato cerramos la boca y estiramos mimosamente los labios como para un beso - digamos, para pronunciar esa aproximante (no del todo fricativa). Para alguien que está acostumbrado a escuchar/usar [ow], le suena perfecta.

    (¿Alguna vez lograré convencer a alguien que la fonética es divertidísima?)
     
  12. Phil-Olly Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Pues, no estoy seguro de que entiende completamente lo que dices acerca de la consonante siguiente.

    Pero gracias por confirmar mi comprensión acerca de la pronunciación de la 'o'.

    Voy a seguir diciendo Segovia correctamente.
     
  13. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Es por eso mismo, duvija, que en inglés se llama "fun-etics".:)
     
  14. Hebert New Member

    Spanish
     
  15. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    De acuerdo, Hebert, pero mi respuesta iba dirigida a un escocés, y no a un australiano o americano.
     
  16. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo.

    The Spanish vowel sounds which can differentiate, ceteris paribus, one word from another (the "phonemes" of Spanish) are five. /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/ and /u/.
    Unlike, say, in Italian, where the presence of a closed "e" vowel (/e/) or the presence of an open "e" vowel (/ɛ/) makes the difference between two words and the same applies for the closed "o" vowel (/o/) and the open "o" vowel (/ɔ/), nothing of this sort happens in Castillian Spanish. You can pronounce an open variety or a closer variety and nothing changes. Technically, linguists say that it's not possible to find two words — a "minimal pair" —in Spanish which have different meanings depending on the degree of opening of the above vowels.
    Of course this is not to deny that in actual speech one may use an opener variety in certain words and a closer variety in others. Native speakers most probably won't even notice it.

    GS
    PS Italian has seven vowel morphemes when a syllable is stressed. Before the word stress and after the word stress the phonemes are reduced to five ("e" and"o" being always closed).
     
  17. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Well, in areas where the final gets swallowed, the preceding vowel gives you the clue about plurals or singulars.
    In 'la casa' vs/'las casas' the second vowels are not the same.
     
  18. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hola, duvi.

    "Well, in areas where the final gets swallowed, the preceding vowel gives you the clue about plurals or singulars.
    In 'la casa' vs/'las casas' the second vowels are not the same."

    Do tell me more about it: what vowel differentiates singular from plural. THANK YOU

    GS
     
  19. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay


    It took me a while to believe it, but once you do/check a spectrogram, you'll see the aperture of the vowels is different enough to really make a difference. Speakers are not stupid, and don't destroy every inch of data they can use. Of course, I'm talking about native speakers. Someone else learning that stuff in Spanish, may believe the sounds are identical.
     
  20. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Thank you, duvja.

    You mention a difference in the degree of openness of the /a/. Basing on your precious experience — you're both a native speaker and a linguist — would you consider /ə/ or /ʌ / or something in between?

    Saludisimos.

    GS
     
  21. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    About the Spanish [o], I want to mention an anecdote (which I hope is not irrelevant) that shows the Spanish [o] being heard as the O in American English "folks"
    (I assume this is the same O of English "go" that has been mentioned).
    American TV journalist Gwen Ifill is interviewing Mexican journalist José Carreño on July 3, 2000, after the election of Mexican president Vicente Fox. (See the transcript here.)
    Both Ifill and the transcriber heard "folks will negotiate" in Carreño's first statement, but he later says "Mr. Fox will have to negotiate",
    pronouncing "Fox" as it would be said in Mexico, with [o].
    Meanwhile Ifill and other Americans are pronouncing "Fox" with an open [a] vowel.
     
  22. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Neither. It's lower than the schwa, and not stressed as the caret. Nobody will believe it, unless they check a decent number of spectrograms. People will still insist the vowels are the same... (meaning, the process is automatic).
     
  23. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Thank you, duvija. This is indeed very interesting.
    A native speaker will normally not perceive any difference because there isn't supposed to be any difference (after all the writing doesn't change and the vowel is the same).
    Perhaps a complete foreigner — but not a completely linguistically naive one :) — might perceive the quality of the "new" vowel.
    From your description it reminds me of one vowel "a" in Romanian — sorry I don't have the appropriate diacritic — as in the word "fata", girl.

    All the best.

    GS
     
  24. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    That is fascinating! Can you suggest anywhere that us non-phoneticians could listen to the difference?
     
  25. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    I'm trying to find your '[a] sound in the web.
     
  26. Caktus Junior Member

    Romania - Romanian
    The Romanian spelling for the word that Giorgio Spizzi mentioned is fată. The letter ă represents the sound schwa: [ə].
     
  27. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Yes, that's what I've found out too, but I still can't get the sound right. It's possible it's very similar to that open vowel 'a'' , but we need transcriptions for all the other 4 vowels, because the plural in Spanish, with 's' come after any vowel. (I'm not sure if the inverted semicircle works for all vowels. Does it?).
     
  28. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, duvi and thank you Caktus.

    I suspected the vowel in fată wouldn't satisfy duvija: I shouldn't have mentioned it in the first place.
    So now we have a new problem, as it seems. As duvija rightly points out, "s-swallowers" pronounce four vowels in a manner which is different from the way each of them would be pronounced in classic Castillian, where there's no swallowing. Now, it'd be ridiculous to expect them to substitute one and the same vowel sound for all of them.

    One question for duvija: when you mention "the inverted semicircle", what phonetic symbol are you referring to? Maybe to the schwa ([ə])?

    Finally, I remember reading — before the Punic Wars, mind you :) — that while in Mexican Spanish there is a weakening of the vowel sounds (for example in buen(a)s noch(e)s) but final "s's" are fully pronounced, in quite a few other Latin American countries it is consonants which are reduced or even omitted altogether in certain positions — in Cuba, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina, where the "s" is substituted for by a sort of aspirated "h" (ie, buena(h) noche(h)). This pronunciation, if I remember correctly, is also heard in southern Spain.
    Now, is this the "swallowing"?

    All the best.

    GS
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  29. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    ă I was referring to this upper semicircle, that seems to be the spelling for the schwa, isn't it?
    And 'the four vowels' are 'the other vowels', which with 'a' make up the five phonemes described for Spanish, without the phonetic differences.
    And yes, in Mexican Spanish stuff is different.
    In LatinAmerica the final 's' goes from zero to a full Mexican .
    The story is that in a language that has only 5 canonical vowels, there is plenty of room to move them around in the vocallic space as much as we want, without confusing the listener.
     
  30. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I am still curious if there is somewhere that it's possible to hear how a speaker from Cuba or the DR or whereever pronounces "la casa" vs. "las casas" and/or similar pairs of words that use the other vowels.
     
  31. _SantiWR_ Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    You shouldn't try to open your o's, at least not as much as the "o" in hot (RP). Spanish "o" is like the "or" in caught, only a bit shorter.
     
  32. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    Perdona, Santi, pero creo que la 'o' de 'Segovia' es mucho más parecida a la 'o' de 'hot' (pronunciado en inglés británico) que a la de 'or' o 'caught'.
    Ya sé que dices que es un poco más corta pero es que aún así... como de la noche al día (exagerando un poco).
    En todo caso, se parecería a la 'o' de 'or', cuando 'or' va entre dos palabras (this or that), pero no cuando la pronuncias como una sola palabra.
     
  33. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Yo no sé de ejemplos perfectos. Siempre hay 'algo' que no me suena bien cuando un no-nativo (de español, por supuesto. Todos somos nativos de algo) de EEUU la dice. (No me doy cuenta de cómo es en inglés británico).
    En algún momento me pareció que la de 'caulk' servía, pero claro, cuando yo lo digo, me avisan que eso no se anda diciendo por ahí.:rolleyes: Y además, me sale demasiado baja, cerca de la 'a'.
     
  34. _SantiWR_ Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Tal como yo lo veo, la apertura es parecida tanto si "or" se hace fuerte como débil (cambia que la vocal débil es más frontal y ligeramente más abierta), y es a su vez la misma que la "o" española. En cambio la "o" de hot es mucho más abierta.
     
  35. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    Respeto tu opinión pero no la comparto. Pongamos el caso de la 'o' de 'got', que tiene exactamente el mismo sonido silábico que el de 'go' en Segovia. Esa 'o' de 'got' tiene el mismo sonido que la 'o' de 'hot', siempre hablo de pronunciación en inglés británico, porque en inglés americano sí que es mucho más abierta (tan abierta que se parece a una 'a').
    Por otro lado, la 'o' de 'or' para nada tiene el mismo sonido, ya sea fuerte o débil. No suena igual en 'here or there' que en 'America or India' (aquí añadimos una 'r' - linking r- después de la última 'a' de 'America' para enlazarla con la 'o' de 'or', y así evitamos la cacofonía con la 'o' de 'or'. Como la siguiente palabra tiene sonido vocálico en su primera sílaba, la 'r' de 'or' la pronunciamos para enlazarla con 'India' (más o menos sería así: amerikar orindia). Todo esto hace que 'or' sea diferente en 'here or there' y en 'America or India). (RP o lo que es lo mismo 'Received Pronunciation en inglés británico).
     
  36. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Go to this website and click on "Vocales" to hear the Spanish "o".
    When people say that the Spanish "o" is like in "hot", not like in "go", they mean that it's a plain vowel, not a diphthong; there's no "glide" at the end of it, unlike in most dialects of English. But in terms of the quality of the sound, it may well be that the first component of the English "go"-diphthong is actually closer to the Spanish vowel than the English "hot"-vowel.
    And of course in American English there's the "haht" pronunciation, which is absolutely unlike the Spanish one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  37. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, loud.

    You say:

    Esa 'o' de 'got' tiene el mismo sonido que la 'o' de 'hot', siempre hablo de pronunciación en inglés británico, porque...

    I'm sorry but I do not agree: If you take any vowel trapeze of English vowels (Daniel Jones's latest edition of the famous dictionary, for example) and collate it with that of the cardinal vowels, you'll see that the RP "o" of "hot", "spot", shock", etc. is extremely more open than any cardinal "o" — be it an open variety or, a fortiori, a closed one.
    It is a common misconception among continental Europeans to consider that their own individual varieties of "open 'o' " can be used to represent British RP open "o". Phoneticians and phonologists have long abandoned the idea of even representing RP open "o" by means of the symbol of the inverted "c".

    All the best.

    GS
    PS I don't know why, all of a sudden, I am not able to represent phonetic symbols...
     
  38. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English

    Hello, Giorgio


    Excuse me but isn't the 'o' of 'hot' a cardinal vowel in itself?

    Here's part of the table of Cardinal vowels:


    6 [ɔ] open-mid back rounded vowel

    7 [o] close-mid back rounded vowel

    13 [ɒ] open back rounded vowel

    [ɒ] is sometimes used for the vowel of "hot", "spot", “shock", “got” , etc. It's actually the symbol for Cardinal 13.
    The vowel in question is located between this and Cardinal 6, so some transcribers prefer to use [ɔ] for “hot", "spot", shock" “got” , etc.
     
  39. _SantiWR_ Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Yeah, that's what I've always thought, and considering that the Spanish "o" is not an open vowel, the most straightforward way for a Spanish speaker to learn the vowel in "hot" (RP) is to start with a Spanish "o" and try and make a habit of opening your mouth more than you would normally do until you are hard-wired to speak that way.
     
  40. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    En mi opinión, los nativos de español sí saben pronunciar la 'o' de hot porque es muy parecida a la 'o' de 'sota', 'hola', etc. Lo que ya no saben algunos es pronunciar la 'h' de 'hot', esa hache pronunciada como una jota de José
    , Jaén, coger, etc. He ahí el quid de la cuestión.
     
  41. _SantiWR_ Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Bueno, en este mismo hilo ha salido un ejemplo sobre como eso no es siempre así (el de fox pronunciado con una "o" española media, no abierta). En cuanto a la "h", bueno, yo soy andaluz y pronuncio José con una perfecta "h" inglesa :)
     
  42. loudspeaker Senior Member

    Madrid
    British English
    Si se refiere usted al ejemplo dado por Cenzontle, más bien creo que fue un lapsus del Señor Carreño, y no un no saber pronunciar la 'o' de Fox.
    Yo soy inglesa y pronunció José con una perfecta 'j' española. :)
     
  43. _SantiWR_ Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    oops, I didn't realise you're not Spanish :eek:
     
  44. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, loud.

    Exactly. For several years now English pronouncing dictionaries have recognized the inadequacy of cardinal /ɔ/ to represent the open "o" sound of "hot". Consequently they started using /ɒ/. Now, English /ɒ/ is far removed from — what I consider to be — the Castillian "o" of "bola", "otro". This is a much "higher" vowel, ie, a much more closed vowel sound than either /ɒ/ or /ɔ/. I also believe the degree of lip rounding and protrusion is by far stronger.
    Then of course there may be individual, geographical, municipal differences, but I'm convinced that Spanish "o" is decidedly more closed even of Italian open /ɔ/ ("otto") and German /ɔ/ ("sollen"). Maybe I'd put it somewhere between Italian open /ɔ/ and Italian closed /o/ ("dove"), and nearer to the latter.

    It was a pleasure. :)

    GS
     

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