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Old 19th July 2008, 01:56 PM   #1
kenpeace
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Default Difficult pronunciations

What are the words in Spanish that English speakers find the hardest to say?

I always struggle with "ejercicio". As a stand alone word I am OK but as soon as I try to use in a sentence I fall apart.

On the other hand - what are the English words that are hard for Spanish speakers? I would imagine something with many consonants together.
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Old 19th July 2008, 02:11 PM   #2
Ben
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How funny, ejercicio always gets me too, so does that similar sounding word for the army: ejercito... nightmare!

As for the Spanish, I think they have trouble with 'wood', 'massage', and anything beginning with and 'S' followed by a consonant. They always put an 'e' in front, so that you get 'eSpanish', and 'eSpain' etc. 'Pub' comes out 'Puff' too...

At the end of the day, it's a lot harder to pronounce English well than it is to pronounce Spanish for us!
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Old 19th July 2008, 02:27 PM   #3
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One particular problem the Spanish have is with the letter X. Luxury becomes Loo-sery, Expect is espect. Ask is ak-es. I make my victims at the English Town repeat, "I expect six boxes".
One lady could not pronounce "Executive" because of the X and too many rapid syllables. I had her break it down into four bits which she then had to pronounce seperately while beating out the rhythm of the word with her hand. Later, when giving a presentation where she had to use the word I was amused to see that she paused, prepared herself, then drummed out the word on her backside. But she said it prefectly.
I use the same technique for multi-syllabled Spanish words. Try it with ejercicio. 5 beats, each taken slowly: e-hair-thith-ee-oo. I works.
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Old 19th July 2008, 02:33 PM   #4
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One particular problem the Spanish have is with the letter X. Luxury becomes Loo-sery, Expect is espect. Ask is ak-es. I make my victims at the English Town repeat, "I expect six boxes".
One lady could not pronounce "Executive" because of the X and too many rapid syllables. I had her break it down into four bits which she then had to pronounce seperately while beating out the rhythm of the word with her hand. Later, when giving a presentation where she had to use the word I was amused to see that she paused, prepared herself, then drummed out the word on her backside. But she said it prefectly.
I use the same technique for multi-syllabled Spanish words. Try it with ejercicio. 5 beats, each taken slowly: e-hair-thith-ee-oo. I works.
Seems like a good technique. Wasn't that used in the movie Akeelah and the Bee?
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Old 19th July 2008, 02:38 PM   #5
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I have never seen the film, so don't know. I thought it up all by my little ownsome, but don't claim to be the first to do it. My Spanish friends, though, call it the "Richard Method", which is flattering!!!!
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Old 19th July 2008, 02:42 PM   #6
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I have never seen the film, so don't know. I thought it up all by my little ownsome, but don't claim to be the first to do it. My Spanish friends, though, call it the "Richard Method", which is flattering!!!!
Very clever! Are your legs bruised?
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Old 19th July 2008, 06:01 PM   #7
Beckett
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What are the words in Spanish that English speakers find the hardest to say?
Guess it depends on the speaker, but generally for many native English speakers it's tricky accurately pronouncing Spanish words containing multiple vowels (europeo, aceite, huíais) or words that have the double rr, like perro, guerrero. Also there's tendency for some English speakers to use an English pronunciation with some Spanish words (for example, "euro" and "Europa") because they are similar (or spelled exactly the same) as their English equivalents.


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Originally Posted by kenpeace View Post
On the other hand - what are the English words that are hard for Spanish speakers? I would imagine something with many consonants together.
Many Spanish speakers have trouble reproducing English vowel sounds because there are 12 different vowel sounds in English while there are only five vowel sounds in Spanish.

Some common mistakes I frequently come across while teaching English to Spaniards are:
They say "shit" when they want to say "sheet."
They say "bitch" when they want to say "beach."
They say "sheep" when they want to say "ship."

"I went to the bitch and I sat on a shit while I saw a sheep come in."

As you can see, the mispronunciation of some basic words in English can lead to some potentially embarrassing situations.

Last edited by Beckett; 19th July 2008 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 19th July 2008, 06:07 PM   #8
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On the other hand - what are the English words that are hard for Spanish speakers? I would imagine something with many consonants together.
Also, any English words that start with the letter "s." Many Spaniards automatically add an "eh" sound to the word. "I am from Ehspain and I ehspeak Ehspanish", instead of saying "I am from Spain and I speak Spanish."
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Old 19th July 2008, 09:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
They say "shit" when they want to say "sheet."
They say "bitch" when they want to say "beach."
They say "sheep" when they want to say "ship."
LOL. Now you mention it. I have heard my chileno colleague say exactly this.
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Old 20th July 2008, 10:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardksa View Post
I use the same technique for multi-syllabled Spanish words. Try it with ejercicio. 5 beats, each taken slowly: e-hair-thith-ee-oo. I works.
But it's four syllables though, isn't it?
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Old 21st July 2008, 12:50 AM   #11
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Een dai tri pedwar pump. e-hair-thith-ee-o. I make it pump. ('Scuse spelling. )
Oh, I improved my Xercise phrase today while helping a beautiful lady with her final presentation at the end of her course. "I eXpect siX boXes by eXpress". Her problem word was "eXperience", which she had used multiple times. I think we got there in the end.

Last edited by richardksa; 21st July 2008 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 21st July 2008, 09:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by richardksa View Post
Een dai tri pedwar pump. e-hair-thith-ee-o. I make it pump. ('Scuse spelling. )
But isn't the io at the end a diphthong and therefore pronounced as a single syllable, rather than a hiatus (which would be spelt ío)? [i.e. e-hair-thith-yo]
{un dau tri pedwar}
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Old 21st July 2008, 12:22 PM   #13
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Default Try "crisps" on your Spanish friends.

I think "crisps" with its monster consonant cluster is a devil for Spanish learners of English, even arriving at "crispus" takes a lot of effort and it took a friend of mine a while before she managed a true pronunciation of "crisps" without any extra syllables.

"Ejercicio" used to get me but I am fine now, however I find an authentic pronunciation of "Valladolid" very elusive and worry I sound like a prat in the attempt, the Spanish pronounce it "buyadolíth" although that doesn't adequately describe it particularly the final sound which is barely there despite following a strongly accented "i".

I suspect I mispronounce a lot of dipthongs and tripthongs and use too hard a "d" between vowels as in "cada" but the errors are not critical enough to get picked up so I don't improve.

How foreign learners of English cope with our evil orthography and numerous and relatively indistinct vowels, - I don't know.
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Old 21st July 2008, 12:43 PM   #14
Edith
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenpeace View Post
What are the words in Spanish that English speakers find the hardest to say? (...)I always struggle with "ejercicio".
Yep, 'ejercicio' is a real 'trabalenguas'! Even though I've got no problems with the guttural 'jota' sound, the pronunciation of this word is a bit daunting.
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Old 21st July 2008, 01:26 PM   #15
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ferrocarril ... nuff said

You can either roll your 'rr's or you can't (ooer missis !)

It's a hard one for the Brits that can't, they always finish up with the French style r

I recall at the GME two years ago on the roof terrace at Viajero with Marinas friend elena, a dozen or so of us having a "ferrrrrrocarrrrrrriles competition. It took our minds off the price of the drinks. She won!!

Last edited by gary; 21st July 2008 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 21st July 2008, 01:37 PM   #16
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ferrocarril ... nuff said

You can either roll your 'rr's or you can't (ooer missis !)

It's a hard one for the Brits that can't, they always finish up with the French style r

I recall at the GME two years ago on the roof terrace at Viajero with Marinas friend elena, a dozen or so of us having a "ferrrrrrocarrrrrrriles competition. It took our minds off the price of the drinks. She won!!
That's what was missing in GME_08.
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Old 21st July 2008, 01:47 PM   #17
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That's what was missing in GME_08.
That and chocolate con churos at you know where..

But we did have flame throwing and sword smuggling....
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Old 21st July 2008, 03:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Hullite View Post
How foreign learners of English cope with our evil orthography and numerous and relatively indistinct vowels, - I don't know.
As Beckett says, I also quite like the way a few Spanish friends of mine struggle to pronouce the difference in the words "sheet" and "shit".

"Pass me a shit of paper please"

For me, anything with an R in it falls somewhere on the nightmare scale. Fairly manageable would be "ruido" or "rancia", through to the very tricky "raro" or "alrededor". Anything with a double RR kills me. I sound like Jonathon Ross (Woss) and I´ve yet to hear a double "erray" come out of my mouth correctly.

I went to Rome last week for my hols, and nearly cried after attempting to tell 3 separate work colleagues where I was going, when on each occasion they had no idea what I was saying. I ended up having to put it in a fixed context by saying Italy first so they´d have a vague chance of understanding. Even the guy on the check-in desk at the airport had to ask me to repeat it, and Rome was the only god damn flight he was handling!!!

It´s a hard life at times

Last edited by Pepino; 21st July 2008 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Cos I´m thick :-)
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Old 21st July 2008, 04:19 PM   #19
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I went to Rome last week for my hols...
Good job you didnt go on the ferrocarril
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Old 21st July 2008, 04:34 PM   #20
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Good job you didnt go on the ferrocarril
That´s an easy one to avoid though... I just go on the "tren". It may have an R in there, but at least it´s an easy R
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