yo (pronunciation)

Rashit

Member
Russian
Hi! I read that "yo" is pronounced exactly the same way as the English "yo" in "yo-yo". Earlier today I read it is pronounced exactly the same way as the American name "Joe". How do they pronounce it in Spain? I'm trying to keep my pronunciation consistent and am therefore sticking with one region's pronunciation. I'm not implying Spain's accent is superior to other accents. :)

Thanks!

P.S. I suspect that the former pronunciation is the correct one because you never pronounce "sayo" (meaning "smock") as "sa Joe".
 
  • TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Hello.

    As usual, I'll give my non-native perspective.

    The phoneme is /ʝ/, a voiced palatal fricative. It can be pronounced in various ways (i.e. allophones):
    - in most positions, notably in intervocalic position, as either a voiced palatal fricative [ʝ] or an a voiced palatal approximant [j];
    - after /n/ and at the beginning of words often as a voiced palatal affricate [ɟ͡ʝ] or as a voiced postalveolar affricate [d͡ʒ].

    There is a lot of variation, though, as far as I'm concerned. You are bound to hear speakers use a fricative for "yo" and an affricate for "ayuda".

    You can take a look here for some basic details: Spanish phonology - Wikipedia

    As you can hear from the second link S.V. provided, two Spanish speakers pronounce "yo" in two different ways, with (what sound to me, at least) an affricate and a fricative.
     

    Amapolas

    Senior Member
    Castellano rioplatense
    You'll find many variations, depending on the speaker's region, and even social or education level. Or depending on context, i.e. surrounding sounds, on stress, on meaning...

    Also, in the first link SV provided, that of WR, if you choose Argentina you'll find that the sound used is approximately that of the English "usually" [ʒ]. However, many Argentinian speakers will use that of the English "shoe" [ʃ]. What I mean is that a comprehensive list of allophones will be a bit of a list.
     

    Aviador

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Chile
    ...Earlier today I read it is pronounced exactly the same way as the American name "Joe"...
    After reading the rest of your posts in this thread, I now see that your question was only about the consonant sound represented by the letter y in the word yo. But there is more than merely that in this particular word. The sound of the diphthong oe in the word Joe is completely different from the sound the letter o represents in Spanish. Actually, the oe in the English Joe is interpreted as the sequence ou by Spanish speakers, which does not exist in any Spanish word, though it is found in sister languages like Catalan, Galician and Portuguese, at least. So no Spanish speaker, of any variey of the language, will ever pronounce yo exactly as Joe, even if they may pronounce the y as English j.
    A lot more similar sound is the received-English pronunciation of o in the word lock.

    Now, the realization of the sound represented by y in Spanish, as our colleagues already stated, greatly varies depending on the regional accent and even the particular speaker. Some time ago, there was a thread in this very forum about the pronunciation of the Spanish word leyenda. In that thread I give an example of my own pronunciation of it and an extensive collection of the pronunciation of this same sound by several random Chilean speakers. I hope it is useful to know the normal Chilean realization of the sound associated with the letter y as semiconsonant.
     
    Last edited:

    Rashit

    Member
    Russian
    Sorry, I should have made it clear that I was talking about the "y" in "yo". I already know how to pronounce the vowel in it.
    Is there any country or region where the "y" in "yo" is pronounced exactly like the English "y" (voiced palatal approximant)? I think most of Spain pronounces it this way because my textbook, which focuses exclusively on the language spoken in Spain, states this (although they may have deliberately simplified things for beginners).
     

    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    The "regular" (classical) pronounciation is /'jo/ (as in English yo-yo). Some people in regions with "yeísmo" pronounce it /'ʎo/ (Spanish LL), although the most common trait is to pronounce LL as Y, not the inverse. Finally in the rioplatense dialect (Argentina half south and Uruguay) they pronounce it /'ʒo/ (as S in leisure) and a few /'ʃo/ (English SH).
     

    Rashit

    Member
    Russian
    Thanks! Since I'm trying to learn the Spanish of Spain, I'll stick to pronouncing "y" the way it's pronounced in the English word "yo-yo". I sure hope the pronunciation doesn't change based on where in the word it occurs! :)
    I don't think it does because "yo" and "estoy" both seem to have the same "y" sound. I listened to both at Forvo.
     

    TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    I sure hope the pronunciation doesn't change based on where in the word it occurs! :)
    I don't think it does because "yo" and "estoy" both seem to have the same "y" sound. I listened to both at Forvo.
    As far as I see things, it varies across idiolects more than it does across phonemic contexts. That said, in certain positions, the phoneme /ʝ/ is more likely to be pronounced in one way or the other. I mentioned intervocalic position in my previous post. I know that this thread is only about the pronunciation of "yo" but since you've brought up different words, I'm going to add, for example, that after /n/, the phoneme /ʝ/ is often (but no always) realized as an affricate, such as in "inyectar", "cónyuge", etc.
     
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