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Old 13th July 2010, 07:52 PM   #1
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Default Speaking with Spanish accents

Hola a todos,

A year and a half ago I went to study Spanish in Spain. While I was there, I picked up the Spanish accent, of course. However, I have been back in Canada since then and because Latin American Spanish is more popular here (on the radio, telenovelas etc.) and also because my boyfriend's family is Colombian, I have developed a more Colombian accent. In 2011 I plan on going back to Spain to teach English. I love both accents, but I would prefer to not have to start over again and switch my accents. I know many of my friends there will want to correct the way I pronounce 'azucar' among other words. Is it reasonable for me to not want to learn the Spanish accent again, even though I will be in Spain? And if so, how do I politely decline their pronunciation corrections?

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Old 13th July 2010, 08:16 PM   #2
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I doubt they would so rude to correct your accent. The latin accent is widespread here from immigration. What is far more likely to happen is your accent will take up the local way of saying things without you noticing.
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Old 14th July 2010, 12:46 AM   #3
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Hi Daniella,

I think the best thing is to relax and let things happen. For most of us learning a language is a thing of both conscious and unconscious imitation. The conscious part is the one of wanting to adapt to the particular environment we are exposed to, the unconscious one is out of our control, and I'd not bother much about that. So, you will probably develop a kind of mid-Atlantic Spanish which suits all situations, which I find really fine, don't you?

On the other hand, I would not worry much about Spaniards correcting or trying to influence on your Spanish. On the one hand because, as Richardksa says, we are quite used to it through the immigrants here (and their telenovelas used to be popular here, too). On the other because some variations of European Spanish are similar: half the speakers here don't pronounced the "th" sound. And the way people speak in the Canary Islands is not that different from Colombian or Venezuelan Spanish.

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Old 15th July 2010, 08:06 PM   #4
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Thanks a lot for your replies. I was quite worried about changing my accent again, but I agree with both of you that it will probably change anyway without my noticing. It was really comforting to hear this advice.

Hasta luego!
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Old 26th July 2010, 09:36 PM   #5
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I went through something similar. After studying in Valladolid, I returned home to my Peruvian girlfriend with a sort of hybrid pronunciation. Nowadays my pronunciation is decidedly Latin American.

The interesting thing for us is that, being non-natives, we could choose our accents! I say that it is up to you; as long as it is fitting your needs, any accent would be fine.

By the way, significant portions of Spain don´t practice the "distinción" of Castilian Spanish. Being a Canadian, even with that charming "about" that rhyme with "boat", you probably don´t get a second glance from Americans.
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Old 27th July 2010, 12:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by daniella View Post
Hola a todos,
Is it reasonable for me to not want to learn the Spanish accent again, even though I will be in Spain? And if so, how do I politely decline their pronunciation corrections?
Great question and it's one I can't recall ever seeing raised in this forum before.

I first learned Spanish in the U.S. and when I initially came to Spain people corrected my pronunciation. They were subtle about it but they were correcting me all the same. At that point in time my Spanish was good, but not great. Fortunately, it hadn't yet been hardwired into my brain. It was like wet clay that you could still mold. So I made the adjustments and worked hard on improving my pronunciation and, more importantly, using words and expressions that were used in Spain, not using expressions or slang from Latin America.

Then when I came back to the United States and spoke Spanish with Cubans and Puerto Ricans, people corrected my pronunciation again with the zeta, etc. One Cuban American in Philly asked me what I was trying to prove by speaking with a Castilian accent! She thought I was putting on airs. So you can't win for losing!

Now I'm back in Spain and of course I use the Castilian accent because it's what I prefer and also because it feels more natural to me at this point. Also, it's a bit of "when in Rome, do as the Romans do...", meaning, if you're living in a place you adapt to the local ways and customs.

So, to answer your question, here's my take: If you currently sound like a native Spanish speaker from Latin America (and have the speaking fluency to back that sound up), your pronunciation won't be corrected in Spain. But if you have a North American (i.e. gringo) accent when you speak Spanish, or if you use a lot of slang and expressions not used in Spain, you may be corrected by some well-meaning Spaniards, especially in a work environment or if you develop close friendships. They'll be polite about it but they will assume that you're in Spain to improve your Spanish and may try to correct you.

If you don't want to adapt and use the accent from Spain, just politely smile, thank them for their interest in wanting to help you, and then explain that your boyfriend is Colombian and that you're already used to pronouncing words in a certain manner.

No matter what happens, just relax and smile and have fun!
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Old 27th July 2010, 09:43 AM   #7
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Of course it would be wonderful if my Spanish accent was really good. As it happens it is probably rather awful, and together with my poor level of the language I must sound like a real "dork". But I don't worry about it at all. The most important thing as far as I am concerned is to be able to communicate in the first instance...........the rest of it i.e accent and correct grammatical speech will follow.

I always find that as long as I present myself as being keen to learn, and have a smile on my face, then the imperfections are ignored. I have never had anyone snigger at my accent, and only had a correction when I have totally pronounced a word incorrectly and not for the way in which it was pronounced i.e. accent alone!

One good thing about being a "Golden Oldie", is that it really doesn't matter any more..............LOL!
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Old 27th July 2010, 06:05 PM   #8
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The Spanish accent, a good post and question. I think the advice by Beckett is the most appropriate.

My experience, Like many here I have an affinity for Spain and Spanish culture, yet living in Los Angeles speaking Spanish with a Spanish accent certainly would not be the norm. Fortunately for me the city I live in has one of the few Spanish markets anywhere in LA, but I digress...

I found it obsurd to want to have a Spanish accent here in Los Angeles where the majority of Spanish spoken comes from Mexico, and Central America, thus I came to the point where I wanted to find some way of speaking Spanish were

a) my Gringo accent while speaking was lessened
b) I would have some accent that is somewhat neutral. Which begs the question, can anyone thing of any type of spanish that is somewhat neutral with respect to the accent? Those closest I can think is Colombian.

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