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Teaching Spanish pronunciation
Teaching Spanish pronunciation

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1.2 Voicing in /b d g/

English voiced stops might be realised without much actual voicing during the occlusion phase of the consonant, while the Spanish voiced stops show vocal fold vibration during the whole of the occlusion. Linguists call languages like Spanish, French, Hungarian and Russian “true voice languages”. Languages like English, German, Dutch, etc. are called “aspirating languages”.

A notable characteristic of Spanish voiced stops is that very frequently – mostly in intervocalic position – they are realised as approximants rather than stops; [β ð ɣ]. This means that the articulators approximate each other, but there is no actual closure e.g. la barra (the bar), ded(by finger) agua (water). These types of allophonic differences are very difficult for foreign students to master. Very often, native speakers are not aware of the varying pronunciations of a phoneme either. Note that in utterance-initial position as well as after a nasal – and in the case of /d/ after /l/ too – a voiced stop is pronounced; ambos (both), aldea (village), un guante (a glove)