y = vocal / consonante

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by emilykb, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. emilykb Member

    English/Spanish, USA
    I'm editing a Spanish pronunciation guide, and it says the following about the letter Y: "this letter is only a vowel when alone or at the end of a word."
    A translator I work with tells me that "y" is always a consonant, but in many Spanish/English dictionaries "y" is listed under the vowels, or described as a semi-consonant.
    Help! Can anyone clear this up for me? Is the Spanish Y a vowel, a consonant, or a little of both?
    Muchas gracias
  2. nanel Senior Member

    Madrid (Spain)
    Spain (Spanish)
    Y is considered a consonant, but in some word it sounds like the Spanish "i" (i.e. Van Fernando y Elena; El Rey viajará a Italia) and sometimes it sounds like the spanish "ll" (i.e. Yolanda, yo, etc...)
  3. Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish
    Es una consonante que según donde se ponga hace la función de semivocal.

    http://www.rae.es/ (if you can't see it let me know)

  4. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In terms of pronunciation, I'd say that the letter "y" is a vowel when it stands for the conjunction y, and a consonant (semivowel) otherwise: yo, rey, cayó, tocayo, etc. Whenever "y" shows up at the end of a Spanish word, it's preceded by a vowel with which it forms a diphtong, so it can't be a vowel.
  5. emilykb Member

    English/Spanish, USA
    Please clarify: I thought that dipthongs ARE formed beetween two vowels, so in a Spanish word like "hoy" the "Y" would be a vowel because it forms a dipthong with the "O" ... ?
    I might be wrong here- is there something I'm missing?
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The Wikipedia classifies "oy" in "hoy" as a falling diphthong, but, to my surprise, it transcribes it as [oi] rather than [oj]. However, it does say the following:

    [*] Not the case in Spanish, I believe!
    Anyway, I thought a vowel followed by another was a hiatus, not a diphthong! :confused:
  7. emilykb Member

    English/Spanish, USA
    Sigh, I just tried to write a nice long reply with links etc, then lost it. Now I don't have the energy or time to write it again!
    Looking on wiktionary and wikipedia, I see:
    hiatus = pause in between two vowels with the same sound (co'operation is the example wiki gives).
    dipthong = combination of vowels with a smooth transition between the sounds.
    I guess I'm pretty far off topic at this point... let me sum it up with two more questions:
    1) Should I avoid applying my knowledge of English linguistics (hiatus, dipthong, etc) to the Spanish language? or am I safe assuming that the same definitions apply universally?
    2) Is it safe to say that the Spanish "y" sometimes acts as a consonant and sometimes acts as a vowel?
  8. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I believe so. I don't think there's any question that "y" is a consonant in "yo", or that it is a vowel in the phrase "Miguel y María".
  9. vikingo44 Senior Member

    Rome - Italy
    Argentina - Spanish (English, Italian, Portuguese, Danish)
    Según la clasificación española, la Y es una consonante, aunque a veces tiene sonido de vocal. JAMÁS entra en un diptongo.
  10. Fbiana_angel Member

    Hi I'm gonna try to help you. I'm from Perú And I don't know if you can understand spanish. We only have 5 vowels. a, e, i, o u. "y" is a consonant its name is i griega and it could be named ye, too.
    it's pronounced as a vowel /i/ when goes at the end of the word when follow another vowel: buey, /buéi/ ley /léi/ soy /sói/ o cuando le sigue la "s" del plural ex. jerseys /jerseis/ en los demás casos, It's pronounced as a fricative consonant word (consonante palabra fricativa). bueyes aqui se pronuncia con "ye" also yo, mayo etc. I wish I could help you if I have any mistake in my English writting please correct me. PD. the letter "y" represent a vowel phoneme /i/ and a consonant phoneme y /ye/ bye. Fabian
  11. Terry Mount Senior Member

    U S A
    "Hoy" se pronuncia "hoi." Me parece que la "y" (con pronunciacián "i") tiene que formar parte de un diptongo. Si no, ¿la palabra se pronuncia "ho-Y"?

    No soy lingüista...así que fácilmente puedo estar equivocado.
  12. emilykb Member

    English/Spanish, USA
    Thank you all for the discussion and clairification. I think I've got a handle on it now.
    Fabian, I do read/speak Spanish, thanks for checking though. I write much better in English, so I post in English to avoid confusion (I should work on that in the future...).
    Muchas gracias, y hasta luego
  13. Fbiana_angel Member

    jajajajajaj, you're welcome whenever you want. bye Fabiana

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