mismo - voiced "s" (pronunciation)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by yuri_1, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. yuri_1 Member


    I know that the "s" in Spanish can be a voiced consonant when it is before some voiced consonantes, for instance in the word "mismo" the "s" can be voiced (like the English "z" sound).
    As far as the intervocalic "s" is concerned, can it be voiced? For instance, in the word "casa"? Are there Spanish dialects that make the intervocalic "s" voiced?

    Thank you!
  2. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    The voicing or unvoicing of s in Spanish is not relevant meaningwise. I mean, voiced and unvoiced s are just allophones, as far as I know.
    Perhaps in Catalan Spanish they voice the s you point out.
  3. A.Madera New Member

    Lima, Perú
    It may be but we, native Spanish speakers, do not pay attention to it. I could not even tell the difference in the accent unless the speaker exaggerates the 's' in mismo. For me it is just a soft 's'.
  4. ACQM

    ACQM Senior Member

    Manresa (Barcelona)
    Spain - Spanish
    For the question, "As far as the intervocalic "s" is concerned, can it be voiced?" My answer is not in Spanish, at least in Spain.

    As A. Madera said, Spanish people tend to believe that there is just one sound of the "s", always unvoiced.
  5. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    I concur with you two.
    In Spanish if someone pronounces one or the other in the wrong places, many people wouldn´t notice, and those who would, would only think that this or that person has a personal way of speaking. If you´re worried about improving your accent, try to get the other sounds right first; then if you pronounce one or the other and someone notices it would only be taken as a peculiarity of your speech, rather than a foreign accent.
    To me that´s the most difficult sound to master in English, precisely because of the poor significance of that sound in Spanish.
  6. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    This paper mentions a number of dialects of Spanish where a voiced intervocalic [z] for /s/ has been detected.
  7. luzzini Member

    Perú Español
    As Yuri_1 is Russian, I think he/she needs further explanation.

    There are two types of pronunciation of Spanish: (1) the one spoken in Spain and (2) the one spoken in America (I mean America not United States!!)

    In Spain, they have diferent pronuncitations for c,s and z, when they are next to a vowel.
    In America, everybody pronounces c=s=z in the same way. There is no difference at all.

    So, it depends on which kind of Spanish you want to talk.
  8. yuri_1 Member

    Thank you for your answers.
    I appreciate the link about the voiced realizations of the Spanish "s" which jmx sent me.

    I understand that the voiced "s" in Spanish is an allophone of the unvoiced "s" and that native Spanish speakers don`t notice the difference because it doesn`t change the meaning. I asked this question because in my native language (Russian) the voiced "s" [z] and the unvoiced "s" are different phonemes which change the meaning of the words. We have different letters for these sounds and that is why we make difference between the voiced allophone and the unvoiced allophone of the "s" in Spanish.

    Thank you again.
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    You will be safe if you always pronounce the Spanish "s" as voiceless.
  10. jmx

    jmx Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Not just in Russian. Most modern Romance languages have the phonemic s/z distinction, and in fact medieval Spanish had it too.
  11. luzzini Member

    Perú Español
    Good luck with this Yuri_1! :)

    As Outsider said, you can't go wrong with a voiceless "s". However, if you are preparing yourself for an Spanish test (as spoken in Spain) you should get more clarity on this issue. If you just want to know, because you want to "survive" in an Spanish speaking country, just go with the voiceless s.

    Let us know, so we can give you further information!
  12. Xinito Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    When I lived in south-western Spain, I did notice that the S is rarely pronounced when it's followed by another consonant or when it's at the end of a word, for example: "hasta" and "cojones". However, in the beginning of a word, the S is always pronounced, as well an S followed by a vowel: "siempre" and "casa". A friend of mine from Cádiz once responded to me when I asked where a particular girl was, he replied, "Ya 'ta 'cotá." Technically, he was saying, "Ya está acostada." Weird.
  13. ampurdan

    ampurdan Senior Member

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    I think (some) Mexicans tend to pronounce their "s" as voiced - or at least in some situations.

    But this is not important, because like others have said, Spanish-speaking people usually don't pay attention to the difference between voiced and voiceless "s". As a matter of fact, it's one of the typical mistakes of Spanish-speaking people when they try to speak other languages to use always voiceless "s".
  14. luzzini Member

    Perú Español
    Even though what you say is true, that example represents a colloquial way of speaking, but not the rule. So that could be misleading. For example, in Argentina people tend to make a silent "s" when it's located in the middle of a word. For instance, instead of saying "viste" they say "vihte". Spanish speaking people understand what they are saying, however it would never be the rule that the "s" is pronunced like an "h" or like a sigh. Hope it helps!

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