Yo (pronunciation)

Pripyat

Senior Member
Russian
¡Hola!
I've just begun learning Español and I have a very important question.
I'm worried about the pronunciation of "yo". I hear some native speakers pronounce it like |yaw|, others pronounce it (for some strange reason) like |jaw|. I gave the examples, using the English transcription.
What's going on? Is it my ear problem or maybe there is the same case like pronunciation of r in American English? I mean maybe Mexicans or some other Spanish speakers pronounce yo like |jaw|. Could you explain it to me?
I'd like to ask you to write to me in English cause my Spanish vocabulary consists of only 50 words so I'm not sure I'll understand you if you write to me in Spanish.
¡Gracias!
 
  • Neakameni

    Member
    Spanish -Spain
    It depends on the accent. For example, in Spain, the most common pronunciation is like 'yaw'. In some other countries, especially Argentina, the sound is more similar to 'jaw'.

    Good luck with Spanish!! :)
     

    micafe

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombia
    You don't have an ear problem.. :p

    The pronunciation of the phonemes "y" and "ll" vary a lot in the different countries.

    In some places both phonemes are pronounced the same and in some others the pronunciation differ a lot from one another. This is a different subject and I'll leave it like that so I won't confuse you more than you already are..

    Yes, you have heard both pronunciations. Actually, there are more than two.

    The pronunciation varies from the "y" in "yes" to a strong "J" similar to the french "j" in "joue" depending on the region. So, you will hear "yo" pronounced "yaw" in Spain. México, Central America and the north of South America, and you will hear it pronounced "jaw" in the south of the continent.

    I hope it's clear.. :)

    Now you know how much we English students suffer because all those vowel sounds in English.. :(
    :p
     
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    Pripyat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    But I'm worried if I am understood if I call an Argentinian hotel ans say "yaw" instead of "jaw" or I call a Spanish hotel and say "jaw" instead of "yaw".
    I know there's the same situation with "c" in the word radiacion, but I've found out all native speakers will understand me even if I say "radiaSion" instead of "radiaTHion".
    What about the case with "yaw"?
     

    micafe

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombia
    Don't worry, you'll be understood. Besides, subject pronouns are not very used in Spanish because the conjugation will let the other person know who the subject is.

    However, if you use the pronoun and say for example "yo (yaw) necesito una toalla", even if they didn't understand "yaw", the conjugation of the verb "necesito", would let them understand.

    There's no reason to be concerned. :)
     
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    donbeto

    Senior Member
    Eng (Canada)
    Yes, that's good advice - leave it out altogether. Not only is it rarely needed, but from what I've learned, it's preferable to leave it out. "Don't be a yo-yo" is one saying about learning Spanish.
     

    Gabriel

    Senior Member
    Argentina / Español
    In fact, in Argentina is mostly similar to "shaw", although "jaw" and "yaw" are not unheard either.

    Typically, in most regions the sounds of the "y" and the "ll" (double l) are the same between them: "Él se cayó" (he fell down) sounds the same than "Él se calló" (he shut up).

    However, the way that these two letters sound vary strongly from one region to another. It could be more or less like the "y" in "yellow", like the "j" in "Jason", or like the "sh" in "sherif".

    All these exclude the final vowel+y (ley, hay, soy) where the "y" sounds like any other "i" in Spanish.
     

    Pripyat

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Solo means single. Parte is a part. So let me try to translate... There's somebody single in a part. Somewhere in Latin America. Am I write or not?
     

    lospazio

    Senior Member
    Castellano - Argentina
    Who was right? What are you talking about?
    In post #10 Giorgio Spizzi wrote: So this doorman in Paris was right who told me that in Latinamerica lluvia is pronounced shuvja.

    But the doorman was only partially right, because that pronunciation is only heard in the Río de la Plata area and the south of Argentina.
     

    brifranc142

    Senior Member
    English - Midwestern United States
    Just wanted to jump in and say that "yo" is not pronounced anything like "yaw." It's pronounced exactly as it looks (in non-regional or standard Spanish) or jo/sho/djo in regional speech. That "aw" sound is incorrect. It's a short, clipped 'o' like the 'o' in 'hope.'
     

    duvija

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Just wanted to jump in and say that "yo" is not pronounced anything like "yaw." It's pronounced exactly as it looks (in non-regional or standard Spanish) or jo/sho/djo in regional speech. That "aw" sound is incorrect. It's a short, clipped 'o' like the 'o' in 'hope.'

    brifrank: they mean the pron. [shaw] as in Bernard Shaw (yes, not as open, but not diphthongized either)
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I think Spanish has five vowel phonemes: /i, e, a, o, u/.
    Spanish phonemes are pure vowels, ie they are not diphthongized as they often are in English.
    In particular, /o/ is a back vowel somewhere between half-closed cardinal vowel /o/ and half-open cardinal vowel /ɔ/: "ocho" /'otʃo/, "dos" /ðos/.
    That said I believe the home-made representation "yaw" for the personal pronoun "yo" is badly chosen in that it encourages one to mistakingly pronounce an open, long "o" vowel.

    @Pripyat. Maybe you should consider pronouncing your Russian word for "god"; get rid of the initial "b" and final "g". What remains should be a good approximation to Castillian "o".
    Alternatively, you might consider using the first vowel sound in your Russian word for "fir-tree" (ë), and that by itself would be a decent approximation to Spanish "yo".

    GS
     

    srb62

    Senior Member
    British English
    Agreed - 'yaw' is not very good. It's always a bit risky using English to represent Spanish sounds, but I'd have thought 'yoh' would have been closer.

    In my experience, in Spain it's very uncommon to hear the classical pronunciation of 'll' nowadays - surely the vast majority of people use the 'dyoh' (a bit like the name 'Joe') sound?
     

    micafe

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombia
    Entonces el portero de noche en Paris que me dijo che en Latinoamerica "lluvia" se dice shuvja teneba razón!
    GS
    Sí, el portero que te dijo que en L.A. se dice shuvja tenía razón. Pero como dijo Agró eso sucede solo en parte de Latinoamérica, principalmente en Argentina y Uruguay.

    Agreed - 'yaw' is not very good. It's always a bit risky using English to represent Spanish sounds, but I'd have thought 'yoh' would have been closer.
    The problem with "yoh" is that the English speaker will always tend to diphthongize the 'o' and pronounce it like 'ou'. I'd prefer them to pronounce it like 'aw' instead of 'ou' due to the fact that the sound 'aw' does not exist in Spanish so the Spanish mind will understand it as the Spanish 'o'.
    (sorry for repeating the word but I needed it to make myself understood :rolleyes:)

    This whole thread would be quite appropriate if we were discussing the Spanish word "ya." ;-)
    Well, the Spanish 'a' is closer to the 'a' in "father". Of course it depends on the accent.

    Just my humble opinion.. :p
     
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    srb62

    Senior Member
    British English
    Sí, el portero que te dijo que en L.A. se dice shuvja tenía razón. Pero como dijo Agró eso sucede solo en parte de Latinoamérica, principalmente en Argentina y Uruguay.



    The problem with "yoh" is that the English speaker will always tend to diphthongize the 'o' and pronounce it like 'ou'. I'd prefer them to pronounce it like 'aw' instead of 'ou' due to the fact that the sound 'aw' does not exist in Spanish so the Spanish mind will understand it as the Spanish 'o'.
    (sorry for repeating the word but I needed it to make myself understood :rolleyes:)


    Well, the Spanish 'a' is closer to the 'a' in "father". Of course it depends on the accent.

    Just my humble opinion.. :p
    Yes, your logic is fine - as is mine and many others! As you suggest, a lot of it depends on the particular 'brand' of Spanish and the perception of the English speaker (of both English and Spanish!).
    For me, 'Joe' works well as in Scottish English we tend not to diphthongize this 'o' sound so much.
     

    brifranc142

    Senior Member
    English - Midwestern United States
    The problem with "yoh" is that the English speaker will always tend to diphthongize the 'o' and pronounce it like 'ou'. I'd prefer them to pronounce it like 'aw' instead of 'ou' due to the fact that the sound 'aw' does not exist in Spanish so the Spanish mind will understand it as the Spanish 'o'.
    (sorry for repeating the word but I needed it to make myself understood :rolleyes:)
    No worries about the repetition, but I would say it's better to teach the sound as it exists. Relative to features like the rolled /r/ and fricative /b/, /g/, and /d/, correct vowel sounds are relatively easy to acquire, or at least my students find them to be. In my humble opinion, teaching it as "yaw" would encourage the students to develop and fossilize a permanent, glaring foreign accent, no?
     

    srb62

    Senior Member
    British English
    No worries about the repetition, but I would say it's better to teach the sound as it exists. Relative to features like the rolled /r/ and fricative /b/, /g/, and /d/, correct vowel sounds are relatively easy to acquire, or at least my students find them to be. In my humble opinion, teaching it as "yaw" would encourage the students to develop and fossilize a permanent, glaring foreign accent, no?
    And you've just added another important element - relating the explanation to the needs of the learners/students!!
    All in all, it's rather complicated!
     

    brifranc142

    Senior Member
    English - Midwestern United States
    Teaching phonetics is very complicated. However, in my less and less humble opinion, this is a pretty easy one. ;) It's [o]. Just that simple. Have your students say words like go, show, blow, and (even) yo, but tell them to freeze their lips after the [o] sound. Really, this is not too complex to teach.
     

    micafe

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Colombia
    For me, 'Joe' works well as in Scottish English we tend not to diphthongize this 'o' sound so much.
    Of course.. Scottish English is a little different. Your 'r' is also similar to the one in Spanish. The one problem with "joe" is the 'j' being compared to the 'y' in yo'. It's not pronounced always like that, as you know. Students will have to get used to the different pronunciations, I'm afraid. (That's what we do in English:eek:)

    In my humble opinion, teaching it as "yaw" would encourage the students to develop and fossilize a permanent, glaring foreign accent, no?
    You've got a point there.
    Teaching phonetics is very complicated. However, in my less and less humble opinion, this is a pretty easy one. ;) It's [o]. Just that simple. Have your students say words like go, show, blow, and (even) yo, but tell them to freeze their lips after the [o] sound. Really, this is not too complex to teach.
    Yes, teaching phonetics is complicated, and no, this is not an easy one. You can do as you say, tell the students to pronounce 'go', tell them to stop after the o sound, and what do you have? 90% of them will very happily say "gou".

    It's my experience. It's almost as difficult as teaching Spanish speaking students to distinguish between the sound of the vowels in "bus" and "boss" or telling then not to add an 'e' before words like "stone" or "speak". It simply won't happen. :(

    Just out of curiosity, do you teach Spanish in Mexico?? :confused:.....:D
     

    brifranc142

    Senior Member
    English - Midwestern United States
    Yes, teaching phonetics is complicated, and no, this is not an easy one. You can do as you say, tell the students to pronounce 'go', tell them to stop after the o sound, and what do you have? 90% of them will very happily say "gou".
    I don't mean to be too on the nose about it, but then the teacher should correct them and re-model the correct pronunciation. They do get it, and it generally doesn't take them all that long. The execution in practice may lag behind, but that's no reason to teach them things that are flatly incorrect (like yaw).

    Just out of curiosity, do you teach Spanish in Mexico?? :confused:.....:D
    Hah, no. I lived there when i registered for WordReference and haven't changed it back yet. I live and teach in Indianapolis, Indiana.
     

    aprendiendo argento

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    Jaw is pronounced as [ʤɑ:] (with an unrounded vowel) in most parts of the United States, and in Canada: http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/jaw so we should stop using English respellings for Spanish words.

    it can create confusion even in English as in the case of rickshaw/ricksha or Utah (which is never pronounced with a rounded vowel in Utah!).

    YO is:
    ʤo in Colombia, parts of Venezuela, parts of Argentina
    ʒo in parts of Panama, parts of Argentina and Uruguay
    ʃo in parts of Argentina (it has become the de facto new standard in Rioplatense)
    jo in Chile, Northern Mexico, and parts of Central America (El Salvador)
    ʝo in Spain, and parts of Central America

    Claraboya and paranoia never rhyme in Argentina, while they rhyme in Chile and in many regions of Spain.
    Hierba and yerba are not the same thing in Argentina either, while many people in Chile and Spain pronounce them the same.
     
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    grahamcracker

    Senior Member
    English-TEXAS
    Ha, ha. When I had high school Spanish, my teacher told us that the "y" in "yo" was pronounced like the "y" in the English word "yes." But when I went to Costa Rica, they all pronounced it zho (long o sound). Naturally, I asked which was correct. My friend Melvin told me that the Costa Rican pronunciation was correct. I was confused.:confused::confused:

    Many years later, I learned that that there was more than one variation. Now I learn that there are more than two. Ha, ha. :eek::D
     
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