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Spanish spelling

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by jmx, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    Split off from this thread.
    Frank, moderator

    I've personally arrived to the conclusion that the 'phonetical' status of Spanish orthography is a myth, or even more exactly, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Every time Spanish-speaking children enter school, they will be taught that whatever pronunciation they have that does not reflect the official Spanish orthography, is "coloquial" at best, but most of the times "vulgar" or "incorrect." In this way, all non-illiterate Spanish speakers know a way of speaking their own language that makes the statement "Spanish orthography is purely phonetical/phonemic" seem true, even if the speaker rarely or never (typically, only in very formal occasions) uses that way of speaking.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  2. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    There is an element of truth in what you say, but really you are saying no more than that children learn the standard language at school. This sort of thing happens everywhere. In any event, if you are going to have an orthography for a standard language it cannot really reflect local variation.
     
  3. crome Junior Member

    English UK
    For a learner of Spanish (the standard variety) as a foreign language, the spelling is about as phonetical as you can get. You couldn't say the same thing about English, French or many other languages. This is the main reason why Spanish is said to be the easiest Romance language to learn (for an English speaker).
     
  4. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    Well, you might have noticed that the expression "standard languages" has at least 2 different meanings:

    - A normative language, established in a deliberate way by a number of persons. In this sense, if they say "this word will be written this way" and then "what is written this way should be pronounced this way", then obviously they can create a completely phonemic writing system... just that it is phonemic for an invented language, vaguely based on a number of vernaculars. So, you see, the statement "Spanish writing is completely phonemic because it exactly mirrors the Spanish variety invented by academicians" means nothing, what it should really say is "Academicians have invented a language based on Spanish writing."

    - Standard language can also be a variety of language commonly used by a large populations as way of speaking and writing that is not regionally marked. Then what happens if everybody says [berdá] for a word written "verdad"? If there is no single vernacular or local variation in which the final -d is pronounced? What happens is that people will pronounce a final [d] sound of sorts, even if nobody around them (in any location) speaks like that, just to "respect the writing." In other words, it's not "written that way because it's the standard word" but exactly the other way around: "it's standard because it's written that way." There are thousands of words in Spanish for which the orthography was fixed at the whim of early writers, typically following "relatinizing" fashions that didn't reflect any natural Spanish pronunciation, and now you can read in these forums dozens of people swearing that any pronunciation not adjusted to those whimsical orthographies is "vulgar", "horrible", "uneducated" and so on.

    So, my point is very simple: In Spanish, the orthography does not reflect the standard language, it's just the opposite thing: the standard language is simply a "materialization" of the writing.
     
  5. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Well, Spanish spelling is relatively phonemic if (and only if) you are referring to the Castilian (Iberian) pronunciation of Spanish standard language, and even then there are some inconsistencies.

    Italian spelling, to stick to Romance languages, is more phonemic than the Spanish one.
    So while it is true that many languages have spelling systems much more distant from a phonemic analysis than Spanish, Spanish spelling still is far from being phonemic.

    And please forget about "phonetic" spelling because phonetic spelling does not exist in any standard language I know of - the closest a language gets is spelling all phonemes and some allophones (not even Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian does that but it is close enough).
    I'm sure you wouldn't enjoy trying to read Spanish in exact phonetic transcription. :)
     
  6. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    I would say the two arise mutually.
     
  7. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Hola JMartins. ¿Y qué opinas del supuesto castellano perfecto de Valladolid? Jamás he estado en esta ciudad pero según la leyenda pronuncian naturalmente cada palabra tal como se escribe. Si es así, ¿empezaron a imitar la lengua escrita? o ¿impusieron su norma a los demás? Pero dudo que sea así, y en todo caso hoy en día Vvalladolidd suena tan artificial... ¿A qué se debe esta leyenda? ¿A que es la ciudad más importante de Castilla la Vieja, la región que dio su nombre a la lengua?
     
  8. crome Junior Member

    English UK
    In Spanish you can see where the stress falls in every word, this is not the case in Italian, which is why Spanish pronunciation is considered easier to learn.

    I'm sure you wouldn't enjoy trying to read my English dialect written 'phonetically' with the Latin alphabet. A person who speaks the same dialect as me would probably write the same text completely differently. This wouldn't be the case with two Spaniards writing in their dialect because there'd be much more agreement on how the sounds should be written.

    If you think that [berdá] shouldn't be written as "verdad" it's only because you are following a certain set of rules that say "verdad" should be pronounced a certain way, different to [berdá]. I guess you don't think that [banana] should be written as "tregfdfs" either, but only for the same reason.

    In Spanish, as opposed to say English, these rules are consistent (with some exceptions) which is what people mean (in everyday language) when say that Spanish is written "phonetically", even if it's not very accurate from a scientific point of vew.

    I think what you have written in your above posts could be applied to basically any standardised written language and does not really have to do with what missmillies meant to say.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  9. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    My view of Spanish spelling is that it is typically predictable with regards to representing phonemes without resorting to historical explanations, even if it does so imperfectly.

    The nature of an orthography being very predictable is that it probably makes it easy to learn to read and to learn to read aloud. In terms of recalling from memory, I don't think it really offers any greater advantage than English, excepting the case where you are trying to write down a word you have heard but not encountered in writing. But that's because I generally believe that people that have learned how to write typically store the memory of the written form as a unit, rather than "spelling out" words constantly.
     
  10. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    El castellano hablado en Valladolid es una variedad corriente y moliente del norte de España, sin nada de especial. Lo de que es el "castellano puro" es una de las estupideces más grandes que me he echado a la cara en mi vida. Ya he escrito en otros hilos sobre esto.

    Como en toda ciudad más o menos grande, sus habitantes intentan diferenciarse de la gente rústica, y una de las maneras de hacerlo es imitar el modelo escolar de "no comerse ninguna letrita". Lógicamente se quedarán a mitad de camino de conseguirlo, pero para el oído ingenuo puede llegar a sonar a "español estándar". Por otro lado a los nacionalistas españoles eso del "castellano puro de Castilla la Vieja" les va bien para encubrir algunas de sus muchas mentiras.
     
  11. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    And why would you say that?
     
  12. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    Sorry, I don't understand what you mean here.
     
  13. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    Because when to comes to language it is not easy to distinguish between cause and effect. Where there is a written standard and a closely related spoken standard then (a) the spoken standard will change more quickly than the written standard (b) the written standard will over time come to reflect the spoken standard (c) the written standard nevertheless puts a brake on changes to the spoken standard.

    In many people's minds there is of course no distinction to be made between the two standards and that explains why people often change their speech as you set out in post 4. "Spelling pronunciations" are well known in English.
     
  14. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    To me, Spanish spelling seems remarkably phonetic/phonemic, whatever the dialect of Spanish one assumes it's supposed to represent.

    Of course, historically Spanish orthography was devised to represent an idealization of the speech of northern Spain, but in spite of that it represents the other dialects fairly closely, too. If you compare the correspondence between spelling and speech in Spanish with that in English or French (or even Portuguese), Spanish wins hands down.

    Minor mismatches like seseo or yeísmo don't really compromise the overall accuracy of the spelling/speech correspondence.
     
  15. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    False. Many varieties of Latin American Spanish evidence a clearer and more careful pronunciation than do many varieties of European Spanish. In fact the more 'incomprehensible' dialects come from Spain, Andalusia to be precise.

    I'm not sure what you mean by this, but I don't know any Mexicans who will say /verdá/. All Mexicans I know --and I lived 10 years in that country-- will always pronounce that final d.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  16. thatlinguist Junior Member

    Mexico City
    American English - Southern California
    Originally Posted by missmillies [​IMG]
    For me personally, I do prefer languages that are written phonetically (like my native Spanish <3), because if that's how the language is pronounced, that's how the language is, and that's how the language should be written.

    I don't know which variety of Spanish missmillies speaks, but I have problems spelling words in Mexico because they do not distinguish between b/v, s/z/ci/ce.
    As a result, beer (cerveza) could be written: "serbesa/serbeza/zerbesa/zerbeza/cerbesa/cerbeza". All of these spellings would be pronounced the same in Mexican Spanish.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  17. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Yes, but b/v is the only point where Spanish spelling does not mirror pronunciation. (There is a s/z/ci/ce distinction in speech in some dialects of Spain.)
     
  18. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    Do you have any proof of that? Can you tell me what kind of correspondence exists between the spellings of "extraño," "acto," "absurdo," "verdad," "ignorar," "abstracción," etc. and the speech of northern Spain ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  19. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    You might be right, but don't forget that when Spanish was exported to Mexico, a spoken standard based on the written language was already in an advanced stage of formation. Also, don't forget that in countries like Mexico, Spanish spread mostly as a result of language shift, and that would explain why a standard/artificial variety of Spanish was the foundation for modern Mexican Spanish.
     
  20. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    And in all varieties of Spanish, except for those from central and northern Spain, where c/z have a different sound from s. B and v do not --and should not-- sound differently in Spanish. If you find native speakers who do distinguish between them it will be because they're misinformed.
     
  21. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Yes: the fact that Spanish spelling expresses distinctions that are not made in southern dialects, such as between se, se and ce, ci.

    How do those spellings deviate from the speech of northern Spain?

    In any event, my thesis is that Spanish spelling represents an idealization of the speech of northern Spain. By this I mean that it represents the way intellectuals from northern Spain (and from the 18th century, when the official orthography of Spanish was fixed, for the most part) felt people should speak -- not the way people actually spoke, including intellectuals.

    This is no novelty. The same happened in just about every other written language: the speech of the educated elite was the model on which the standard orthography was based.
     
  22. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    Artificial after five centuries? Hard to accept.

    You're going to lead me to believe that the standard-bearers of an artificial Spanish language (the priests and other teachers) were somehow more succesful in Latin America than in Spain?

    Mexico is just an example (100+ million-speakers strong), but I could posit similar arguments for other varieties of LA Spanish.

    In any case, if you want to stick to your argument, then you should refer only to the central and northern dialects, which represent but a tiny part of the Spanish-speaking world.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  23. missmillies Junior Member

    Mexican Spanish
    I know Mexican Spanish doesn't completely match the standard orthography but I was comparing it to the French orthography in that particularly post, and in that context Spanish is very phonemic/phonetic (I'm not sure what the difference is!). The Spanish orthography isn't a perfect system but compared to many others, it's wonderfully easy and clear.
     
  24. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    Ankara
    Turkish
    How do you see the stress in every word? In a word like: arból, OK. How about accentless words like: cerveza?

    Italian has also accented words where you see the stress and accentless words where you shoot your best guess. I don't think either language has an advantage over the other when it comes to stress.
     
  25. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    árbol, not arból.
    cerveza can only be stressed on the next-to-last syllable (ve). Otherwise it would have an accent mark over one of the two other syllables.

    There are very simple rules for this in Spanish. Despite a few exceptions --related mostly to semantics-- anyone can easily and immediately 'discover' which syllable should be accented in a Spanish word. That's not always the case in Italian.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  26. thatlinguist Junior Member

    Mexico City
    American English - Southern California
    Actually, tree is "árbol", accent on the a.
    The rule I learned for stress is that:
    1) If the word ends with -n, -s, or a vowel, go back a syllable (cable - stress is on the first syllable; cerveza - stress on the 've'; habla, stress is on the first syllable; hablan - first syllable; hablas - first syllable.) Basically, the penultimate syllable gets the stress.
    2) If the word ends with any other consonant, stress is on the last syllable (hablar - stress on the last syllable, ciudad - stress on the last syllable).
    3) If the word has a written accent, that syllable gets the stress.
     
  27. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
    I find Colombian and CostaRican varieties to be the most spelling-pronounced.
    For example many times b, g, d can be soft(ened) [not only intervocally but in the other positions too] which makes the Spanish pronunciation tricky: but in Colombia b,g,d tend to stay the way they are written, as in English.
     
  28. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    For words accented on the last syllable or next-to-last syllable, the two languages are about the same. But the "advantage" in Spanish is that antepenultimate stress is systematically indicated, whereas it is never indicated in Italian (is it?)
     
  29. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Are we talking about American Spanish, or are we talking about Spanish spelling?
    I thought the latter was the topic of this thread, wasn't it?

    The fact that American Spanish and Iberian Spanish are pronounced differently is one of the points I had in mind when I wrote that Spanish is "less phonemic" than, say, Italian, to pick an example from Romance languages (always referring to standard languages).

    In case of Iberian Spanish, <z> <ci> vs. <s> are clearly differentiated, to use different letters for both phonemes is to apply the principles of phonemic writing. Of course the inconsistency of using <z> and <ci> for the same sound still remains.
    In American Spanish it is pointless to use two (three) letters from a phonemic point of view: a phonemic spelling system would do away with it. So in this particular case Iberian Spanish clearly is more phonemic.

    Also the fact that there are many different Spanish standard language varieties while there's only one "basic", dominant standard language variety of Italian (say, "general Italian"), which is used in, say, a southern and northern variety (and a Swiss one, at that), allows for less variation - of course, only on standard language level; there's plenty of variation in Italian in colloquial speech.

    True, in Italian accent is only marked in few cases, so concerning accent Spanish spelling is indeed very accurate, you only need to learn a couple of very simple rules.
    But in Spanish there are plenty of "allophone clusters" which are also pronounced differently according to dialect: and I'm not only talking about interdental fricatives missing in America, but also de-voiced interdentals in Northen Castilian speech.

    While Italians, when writing their dialects in the spelling system of their standard language, only would have to add accents to give a speaker of another Italian dialect a much better idea of how their dialect is pronounced.

    That'd be /berdáθ/ in the mouth of a Castilian Spanish teacher I know, if she spoke more colloquially, while she says /berdáð/ when she's trying to pronounce carefully. She doesn't even notice the difference (and claims she hasn't used /θ/) when you tell her, and she definitely would write this <verdad> whatever the pronunciation.

    Sure, I know way too little about Italian to know how big the regional differences in pronouncing the standard language are - so I cannot be sure if similar cases exist in Italian; I only do know that Spanish spelling is by no means as "phonetic" as many people (both native speakers and learners) think. Spanish spelling is "fairly phonemic" for the most part, depending which standard language variety you consider, but it is far from being "phonetic".

    And of course there isn't any modern standard language which is "truly phonetic".
     
  30. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    ... more succesful in places where originally there weren't any native speakers of Spanish or any related language. Yes, it's possible, why not.
    The word 'verdad' was just an example, too. We should go on with many other examples, like the [ks] group in 'extraño' or 'sexto', the [bs] group in 'obstinado' ...
     
  31. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    If we hadn't that distinction, the Spanish orthography would simply be invalid for most dialects in Spain. I never said that Spanish orthography is invalid, I just said that it's supposed phonemic accuracy is just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Well, that's roughly what I'm saying, the spelling is based on how they felt people should speak; and they thought people should speak on the model of classical Latin.

    (Incidentally: not northern Spain at any rate, as the standard orthography was developed in Toledo and Madrid, both in central-southern Spain)
     
  32. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    /krekt/ :)

    Well, accents occur with monosyllabic words when there's a similar word it could be confused with (la; là), (da; dà) and stress on the last syllable is indicated with an accent (città / irregolarità / lunedì), actually even on disyllabic words to distinguish a meaning, a few that come to mind now are faro / farò (light house / I will do) or pero / però (pear tree / perhaps)

    When we get to tri(/poly)syllabic words the tendency to write an accent slumps a bit and you can see a word and if you put the stress on a different part of the word it can totally change its meaning. For example the word ancora could mean anchor or still / yet depending on where you put the stress. (áncora - anchor / ancòra - still / yet)

    This distinction is also common when you're appending the pronoun ti at the end of an -are word, because it's the same form as the masculine plural past participle so...

    Lavati! - Wash yourself! ......... (làvati) is "lava" (wash) and "ti" (yourself!)
    Lavati. - Washed ............. (lavàti) p.p of "lavare" / masc. pl.

    In articles on Italian aimed at English (or probably more precisely non-native Italian) speakers you can see accents on words but I've only seen them in this case (when we get to words with 3 syllables in), Spanish accents the stress in semáforo, and I've seen the same spelling in articles on (learning) Italian, but outside the context of an explanation of pronunciation, it wouldn't be accented, or I've never seen it in my 4 years of learning.

    Context makes sense of it all! (per la maggior parte cmq :p)
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  33. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    Sokol:
    I don't quite follow what you wrote in your last post. I think I lost you. This is what you had written previously:
    My point is that the distinction between z/c and s is not sufficient to characterize northern and central Iberian Spanish as more phonemic than Latin American Spanish, because the Latin American pronunciation often shows a closer correspondence to the written standard in the case of many other sounds.

    My main problem with Italian is those open e's and o's .There's no way of knowing from the written language how a specific vowel should be pronounced. Spanish doesn't have that problem because those sounds either don't exist or are merely allophones in the few places where they do.
     
  34. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Most dialects? It looks like, today at least, most dialects of Spanish do not make that distinction.

    That does not invalidate the fact that Spanish orthography follows most closely the dialects of northern Spain.
     
  35. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    Far-fetched. After a couple of generations most educated Spanish speakers in the New World were native speakers. I can't see why, in learning the language, they would be more or less receptive to their teachers than their peers in Valladolid, regardless of their background. Or do you see any evidence that first-generation Spaniards of non-Spanish-speaking backgrounds speak a more standard version of the language than do those whose families have lived in Spain for many generations?

    All of which follow more closely the written standard in LA than in Spain.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  36. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I'm having trouble understanding what you're referring to here, can you give an example?
     
  37. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    Ankara
    Turkish

    I guess, words like "venti"

    venti --> (vénti) = 20

    venti --> (vènti) --> plural of the word: "il vento" (wind)



    PS. it might be vice versa, I can't recall now =)
     
  38. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Ah, I get what you mean now, you're correct about the sounds, but I guess I was thrown by "this problem doesn't exist in Spanish", it's hardly a problem (IMHO).
    Context takes care of the understanding of the word and once you know the language you'd read "I venti posso raggiungere i 300/km" as vènti and "C'erano venti persone lì" as vénti.

    Though from the written word not knowing what it means you wouldn't be able to tell which vowel sound it was, if this was your point, I do agree. But calling it a problem, I think is going a bit far. But now I'm afraid we're on the border of offtopicville :p
     
  39. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
    But pronouncing vowels differently than normal will make you sound off/foreign, for example many people pronounce live as leave when they try to speak English, is this acceptable,
    you can tell it from the context too? or to pronounce bitch as beach?
    There are many situations where local varieties of Italian differ from the Central Italian (Tuscan/Roman) standard when it comes to pronunciation of e's and o's but there are many situations when every Italian will agree, for example certo
    , no Italian ever would pronounce it with a closed vowel: cérto, it's always cèrto. You can pronounce love as [lav, lov, l@v, luv] in English but pronouncing it as [lev] will sound off.

    I don't know why many English professors of Italian like dumbing down Italian pronunciation, there is the Standard of Italian, based on Tuscan-Roman norm, advocated by voice professionals and promoted in italian theaters and on the national tv: RAI. It is like RP in English, with the difference that there are more native speakers of Italian standard than native speakers of RP, most middle and upper class Romans have almost perfect RAI accent.

    As for Spanish, you cannot predict the softening of consonants (d,g,b and so on) from the spelling, and this softening is a part of the Spanish language. While Spaniards will understand you if you pronounce these consonants (in those positions) in the wrong way, you will sound off/foreign to them. And while some dialects (Colombian) may tend to reduce that softening, intervocalic softening of d,g,b is almost always present.

    In Brazilian Portuguese there is no intervocalic softening of consonants, and in Continental Portuguese it is frequent but optional.

    In Spanish:
    amado, amable, amadrinar
    D, B, and D are soft, yet you cannot predict it from the spelling, you have to check it in the dictionary (my Portuguese-Spanish Dicionary has Spanish pronunciation shown with IPA symbols)​
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  40. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    Of course, you can. It only happens after a vowel (in most dialects of Spanish), even if the vowel belongs to the prior word. (Hope I've helped you here :)).

    I agree with your other comments. Dismissing the mispronunciation of vowel sounds as unimportant seems not only naive but strange to a perfectionist like me. I find it very funny (and disturbing) when Spanish speakers say spik for speak and shit for sheet. Most also confuse avô (grandfather) and avó (grandmother) in Portuguese.

    This has nothing to do with understanding, but with speaking a language like a native, or as close to it as you can, given your limitations.

    Try explaining the venti example to Spanish speakers and they will look at you as if you were an apparition. They will not even hear the difference in the two pronunciations, even if you repeat the two sounds a million times.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  41. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    Well, just ask yourself: when you learn a new language, what do you typically learn, an "educated" variety or a "peasant" one?

    Also, assuming that some LA accents of Spanish are closer to the written standard, which I guess is true for central Mexico, but for few more places... would you say that Spanish orthography was fixed (in the Renaissance) following American pronunciations? Or would you say that the orthography corresponds to how Spanish was spoken in Spain back then, and the pronunciation has gotten "simplified" later?
     
  42. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Barcelona
    Spain / incorrect Spanish
    No, these sounds are just allophones and are 100% predictable from the phonetic environment, therefore they don't affect my reasoning. I'm thinking of examples like those in post #18, that I repeat here, with some additions:

    extraño, acto, absurdo, verdad, ignorar, abstracción, cansado, admirar, construir, istmo, ...

    What I'm saying is that an illiterate speaker of Spanish from any part of Spain would have a lot of trouble trying to repeat the "correct" pronunciations of those words. Therefore, whoever pronounces those words "correctly," has somehow adapted his or her speech to the way the words are written. And I have reasons to believe that things weren't any different in the 15th or 16th centuries.
     
  43. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I don´t think that in the 16th century the indigenous Mexicans were learning proper Spanish in immersion classes with professors from Salamanca. They were in (oral) contact with military men, priests and possibly colonists from small town Andalucía and Extremadura. I cannot imagine they would have picked up the written standard.
     
  44. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    An educated variety, if you learn it at school. I think that was the case only for the privileged few in Spanish America.

    I haven't the faintest. But it doesn't matter. The fact is that nowadays Spanish is a highly phonemic language, compared to others (European Spanish notwithstanding :eek:).
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  45. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    Only those of pure Spanish descent had official access to a decent education, AFAIK. And, of those, not all got it. Very few lucky individuals of Amerindian descent were educated properly, although some managed to and actually became fairly well-known writers.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  46. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Man Paisa. I don't understand how the Spanish of Mexico corresponds more closely to the written standard than that of Spain (and I certainly don't dispute that it doesn't in Spain), especially if it developed out of a peripherical variety with a book education not widely available to the masses. Unless you mean that there could have been a more recent push (widespread education) to get people to adhere more closely to the spelling in their speech patterns.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  47. ManPaisa

    ManPaisa Senior Member

    Here and there in a topsy-turvy world
    AmE (New England) / español (Colombia)
    We're not talking about Mexico only, although that country's Spanish provides an excellent (and huge) example of the phonemic nature of that language.

    As to your question, I have no idea. I wish I knew.
     
  48. krloszz Senior Member

    Mexican Spanish-Centro del Pais
    Un poco tarde, pero me gustaria acotar que en el centro de México, a excepción del seseo y del yeísmo, es bastante natural pronunciar todas las consonantes de las palabras; algunos estudiosos-y bastante probable es-mencionan que se debe al complicado sistema consonantico Nawatl, que dejo sentir su influencia en el terreno fonético.

    A little bit late, but i would like to tell that in the center of Mexico it's really natural pronounce all the word's consonants; this is probably because of the influence of Nahuatl language and its complicated consonantic system.
     
  49. e.ma Senior Member

    Spain
    Spain, Spanish
    Until not so long ago in Spain, all educated Castilian speakers used to pronounce the words properly, like the final -d in verdad or Madrid, and not pronouncing them properly was considered a clear sign of undereducation.

    In the '70, with all the political excitement, the correct pronunciation came to be seen as posh, and people took pride on showing their regional accents, and from then on it seems politically incorrect to say that someone's Spanish does not fit a standard. So the standard is half done with, and you just have to watch any Spanish news to tell.

    This case is particular to Spain, but in America respect's been kept for a Castilian standard. That's why in general terms they speak it better than us.
     
  50. dabukaba85 New Member

    English - USA
    Good point, e.ma . Another point I'd like to make regarding the Spanish spoken historically in Mexico -- I studied some Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and their descendants, and quite honestly its phonology and its pronunciation remarkably, coincidentally, mirror that of Spanish for the most part, with the exception of some different sounds present in each and Nahuatl's distinction between long and short vowels (same vowel sounds, btw). I also studied some Yucatec Mayan, and the same holds partially true for that language, but to a much lesser degree, especially different from Spanish in terms of Maya's intonation and glottal stops. My main point is that for the Aztec-blooded citizens of colonial-Spanish Mexico, the major aspect of learning the Spanish language that would have resulted easy (for the most part) would be its pronunciation. This includes pronouncing almost every letter in a word (I say almost because in both Nahuatl and Spanish, the "h" is silent, as is the "u" in "que" like in Spanish "queso" or Nahuatl "quetzalli"). Thus to the posters saying pronuncation was difficult for them and only those of purely Spanish blood had access to this pronunciation, I HIGHLY, highly disagree, at least when it came to the Aztecs. For other indigenous groups, like not just those of Maya descent, but also the Mixtecs (Oaxaca), for instance, I cannot say, because I do not know. (BTW, I grew up with Spanish as well as English because my parents are from Latin America, and my heritage is Spanish.)
     

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