One of the major pronunciation
differences found between Peninsular Spanish
and Latin American Spanish
is the lisping of "ce", "ci", and "z" sounds. In the America
s, these sounds have become one (partly because the Andalusia
ns who settled the New World
didn't use the lisp to begin with).
Interestingly (for language nerd), Spanish used to be pronounced with even more consonant sounds that disappeared over time. Here some examples and how they would have been pronounced in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries:
- A letter that is still used in French and Portuguese also used to be found in Spanish: ç, as in the word coraçón (now spelled corazón, "heart"). The ç is pronounced "ts" as in "coratsón".
- The letter z was pronounced dz. E.g. the word fazer (now spelled hacer, "to do") was pronounced fadzer. Besides the z to c change, many older Spanish words used the letter f where we now use the letter h ("fazaña," "fermosura," "fablar").
- The letter x, which now denotes either a "ks" or "s" sound ("taxi," "excusa") or an aspiration when describing areas around Mexico (e.g. "México"), used to denote an "sh" sound. E.g. the word dixo (now spelled dijo, "he said"). This would have been pronounced "disho". (I have seen maps in American History classes of the Mexican state Oaxaca, which in English used to be called Washaca. X's are still today pronounced as "sh" when they are found in Spanish transliterations of Nahuatl words, the language of the Aztecs).
- The letter "j" and the letter combinations "ge" and "gi", which are now aspirations, used to denote the "zh" sound (like the same letter combinations in French today). So the word oio or ojo (now always spelled ojo, "eye"), was pronounced "ozho".
- Although in most cases the letter s was pronounced the same way it is today, between two vowels it denoted a z sound (the same way we pronounce z in English, a buzzing sound). So the word mesurado ("discreet") was pronounced mezurado. To denote an s sound between two vowels, a double-s was used: apriessa (quickly), pronounced "apriesa".