Wednesday, March 30, 2016

PRONUNCIATION – Vocal Chord Vibration

A crucial difference to reduce your accent: In Spanish, as opposed to English, the vibration of the vocal chords is not heard as much and as often as in English.

In English (a Germanic language) we speak more from the back of the mouth. But Spanish (from Latin) is much more of a front-mouth language.

When speaking English I still have to remind myself of this fundamental difference –a difference that accounts in part for the Hispanic accent in English.

That’s why Hispanics learning English find it difficult to differentiate between, say:

                                   ‘bag’ and ‘back
                                   ‘lab’ and ‘lap
          They fail to vibrate the vocal chords as much as they should 
          when pronouncing the final ‘g’ and ‘b’ –and other voiced consonants.

As for vowels:

All vowels are voiced (pronounced with audible vocal chord vibration)

Even the short-sounding vowels are voiced: 

                      pat -  sit -  of - pull 

Also, the vowels in stressed syllables are pronounced longer and that also accounts for more audible vibration. Remember that in Spanish we do not elongate the stressed vowels, but pronounce them with a somewhat higher pitch.

We do not have short- and long-sounding vowels. As you know, each vowel has only one possible sound.

The only vowels that are pronounced in the back of the mouth are the ‘o’ and ‘u’ and even in these cases you do not hear the vocal chord vibration as in English.

Examples:   too   -  tú
                    pot  -  pote    

Bottom line:  Speak Spanish from the front of your mouth and you’ll be on safe ground 

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