Posted by: janecronin | February 2, 2012

Spanish pronunciation for English speakers – the letter I


We have now arrived at the third of our vowels, that is, the letter I.  Just like the other four vowel sounds, the I is a short single sound, in this case made with the lips pulled out to either side.  The resulting vowel is longer and more open than the English “i” as in the word “it”, and shorter than our “ee” as in the word “eat”.  You may have noticed than Spanish speakers of English have problems differentiating between these two English sounds, confusing “fillings” with “feelings”, “ship” with “sheep” or “sin” with “seen”.  This is because in Spanish only the one I sound exists.

We can find this letter at the beginnings, middles and ends of words, where it always maintains the same quality.  It is also frequently found linked to other vowels, such as in the words aire or seis.  In these cases the I sound is preserved intact, but as it follows straight on from the A or E in the word, it appears to change the overall sound.  This effect is called a diphthong, meaning a double vowel sound.

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