Who uses this dialect?
This is the speech of Spaniards of all classes.
Rhythm and Music
This is a very fluid, musical dialect. The feel of it is very liquid, as though it is pouring out of the mouth. The focus is forward in the mouth, but you must be careful not to allow it to slide up into the nasal cavity, as this will create a more New World (Mexican or Puerto Rican) impression with the audience.
As a side note, in reality there are almost as many variations in Spanish dialects as in English. Castillians speak very differently from Aragonese, not to mention all the New-World Hispanic dialects. The dialect presented here is a sort of Generic Stage Spanish, and should not be taken as representative of the speech of all Spanish-speaking peoples.
Each of the links below is an ".mp3" file demonstrating a sound change. Listen to the example as many times as you need to, repeating it on your own afterwards. Take as much time as you need to with each sound. If you take the examples in order, you will sometimes run into sounds you haven't gotten to yet. Don't worry about it, just do the best you can until you've gone through all the sounds. Then go back and listen to the examples again, and make whatever corrections you need to.
I have included notes where appropriate.
- Let's start with a fairly simple one: the short 'i' sound in "tip" or "invalid," shifts to the long 'e' sound in "tree."
The invalid's instinct was to sit and think.
- The long 'a' sound in words like "paint" becomes a short 'e.'
I hate waiting.
- The 'aw' sound in words like "pots" and the 'o' in words like "old" becomes a sort of squished version of the 'o' in words like "home."
The old ways of holding power are no longer in operation.
- Both short 'a' sounds in words like "map" and "pass" become the 'ah' sound in "father."
A Spaniard in France must ask after his man.
- The 'b' and 'v' sounds get mixed together. The trick is not to let one dominate the other. Note: this is a very subtle change. You may have to listen several times to hear it.
His absence was a victory for the average boy.
- The 'r' sound is tapped. What does 'tapped' mean? Imagine that you are rolling the 'r.' Now do it only once. You may fake it if you must by doing a very light 'd' sound.
The girl gave her father a rose.
- The 'h' sound gets a little more air pushed through it.
Horses hold an important place in Spanish history.
- When an 's' sound appears at the beginning of a word, turn it into an 'es' sound.
I was studying in Spain.
- Finally, two changes to avoid:
These changes are characteristic of New World hispanic dialects, rather than Spanish.
- Do not substitute a 'j' sound for the 'y' sound in words like "you."
- Do not turn the 'sh' in words like "Shakespeare" into a 'ch.'
Finally, here's the famous line from The Princess Bride to practice with. I recommend using this line to get into dialect before rehearsal or performance.
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
And there you have it, all the changes thou shalt need to speak like a Spaniard. I wish you much joy of it!
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