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There are a few issues of pronunciation in Spanish that non native speakers frequently mess up, which can lead to rather embarrassing mistakes. Take the letter ‘ñ' for example, this letter is pronounced like the ‘ny' in ‘canyon'. In Spanish the word for year is ‘año.' However, there is another word, ‘ano', with a very different meaning. (It means anus.) If you fail to pronounce the ‘ñ' (or fail to write it) in a given sentence it could be a very grave mistake. You could, in fact, confuse “I am thirty years old.” = “Tengo trienta años.” With “I have thirty butt holes.” = “Tengo treinta anos.” A mistake you probably don't want to make. There are a number of other mistakes like this you don't want to make. I give you the ‘ll' pronounced like the ‘y' in ‘your'. Many people introduce themselves with the following phrase in Spanish “Me llamo Virginia.” The ‘ll' pronounced correctly makes this sentence mean “I call myself Virginia.” However, if you pronounce this sentence “Me lamo Virginia.” Thus, using the ‘l' pronounciation instead of ‘y' it means “I lick myself, Virginia.” Again, something to be avoided. And finally we come to the ‘rr' not nearly as amusing an example as the first two, but certainly not a mistake you want to make. The ‘rr' is pronounced as a trill (like the noise you make when you're a little kid and you're trying to imitate machine gun fire). However, a single ‘r' is just pronounced almost like an American ‘r' (the difference can't really be demonstrated in writing). However, mispronouncing the ‘rr' can still change the meaning of a word. For example the word ‘perro' meaning dog vs. the word ‘pero' meaning but (as in however.) These are not the only mistakes that can be made simply by mispronouncing a letter, but they are some of the most common and the first two are definitely some of the most amusing.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|