Posted by: janecronin | March 24, 2012

Spanish pronunciation for English speakers – The letter L


The good news about the letter L is that it is pronounced the same as in English, well almost.  In fact in Spanish we place the tongue further to the front of the mouth and make it very clear sound, irrespective of where the L appears in the word.  It may come at the beginning as in “lado” (side) or at the end as in “azul” (blue). English speakers need to be particularly careful in the way we pronounce the letter L at the end of words, and also when it appears next to another consonant within a word.  Think for a moment how we say “milk” or “hill” in English.  We employ what we call the “dark L” which is pronounced at the back of the mouth and in some accents disappears completely.  If we carry this tendency over to our Spanish speaking, they will not realise we are saying a word containing the letter L at all.  Someone I was talking to recently who works in a shop told me that the Spanish never seem to understand her when she offers them a bag – “una bolsa”.  When she tried her pronunciation out on me it was clear that she was almost saying something like “bowsa” which the Spanish would hear as “bosa”.  As silly as it sounds, a little movement of the mouth like that can make all the difference between comprehension and incomprehension even in a situation where we might think our meaning is obvious.

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