Spanish Pronunciations for Hindi speakers

Every resource that I came across tries to teach Spanish to English speakers. Those who already know Hindi have certain advantages. Both in terms of producing the correct Spanish pronunciation as well as being able to read/speak the Spanish language. Like Hindi, it is much more phonetic and rule-based than English.

Alphabet set

Many alphabets in Spanish are pronounced similar to English, so, let me just present you the subtle differences

  1. Spanish A, is pronounced like Hindi अ unlike English A (ए)
  2. Spanish B, like Hindi ब, is soft. English B is plosive, that is, pronounced with a gush of air.
  3. Spanish C, like English C, varies between क and स. Specifically, ca -> का, co -> को, cu -> कु, ch -> च, in all other cases, it is pronounced स.
  4. Spanish D is pronounced द. English D is a non-retroflex ड.
  5. Spanish E is pronounced ए.
  6. Spanish F, similar to English is labio-dental, so, same as Hindi’s फ़.
  7. Spanish G is more complicated. When it is ज in English, it becomes ह in Spanish. When it is ग in English, it remains ग. For example, English general is pronounced general (हेनेराल) while English word global is pronounced global(ग्लोबाल) in Spanish.
  8. Spanish H is always silent, except for “ch” where it forms च sound.
  9. Spanish J is pronounced ह in Latin America. And in Spain as ख़.
  10. Spanish LL (two l’s) was once considered a single letter. Its pronunciation varies from ज to य to ल्य across different parts of the world. All words in a region will use the same pronunciation though. ज to य variance is common in Hindi as well, for example, जोगी – योगी, जमुना – यमुना.
  11. Spanish Ñ is pronounced ञ.
  12. Spanish P like Hindi प is never aspirated. Contrast this with English P, at the beginning of a word, is pronounced प्ह.
  13. Spanish Q is always followed by u and together forms qu -> क.
  14. Spanish R is pronounced like Hindi र in front of the mouth. English R involves a curl and is pronounced in the middle of the mouth
  15. Spanish RR, which is hard for English speakers, is easy for Hindi speakers. It is just र्र sound.
  16. Spanish T is pronounced त. English T sounds don’t exist in Spanish.
  17. Spanish V depending on the word pronounced व or ब. The two sounds are interchangeable for a Spanish speaker to a great extent.
  18. Spanish does not have W except in imported words. And in those, it is the same as English W (व).
  19. Spanish Z is pronounced स in Latin America and थ in Spain. Spanish does not have ज़ sound.

Pronouncing words

  1. Spanish is way more phonetic than English.
  2. Spanish is only slightly less phonetic than Hindi.
  3. Spanish hates consonant clusters as well as repeated letters. “School” becomes Escuela. “Spanish” becomes “Español”.
  4. There are almost no silent letters in Spanish. Except for h. So, metal is pronounced मेताल.
  5. There are no unwritten sounds introduced in Spanish words either. So, University -> Universidad is pronounced ऊनीवर्सीदाद.
  6. English has a mix of Germanic and Latin words. The Latin word usually hints at what the Spanish word might be. The Latin word is usually considered more formal in English. For example, find and encounter. The Spanish word is encuentre (ऐनकुएंत्रे).
  7. Spanish unlike Hindi is a stressed language. By default, the second-last syllable is stressed. Any other stress is marked with ´ over the syllable. Getting it right is important. For example, I speak -> hablo(आब्लो) while He spoke -> Habló(आब्लोऽ)

In a follow-on post, I will give an example of introductory Spanish sentences to get by in Latin America.

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