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Help!!! Here in the meseta central many phonemes are missing

Posted by fracardi on November 28, 2009

Here in Madrid, you ask to a Spaniard to pronounce special in English (\ˈspe-shəl\) and he usually miss two out of the three phonemes of the word: the first, cause he puts a vowel at the beginning , the second, cause he substitutes sh with a simple s. And no, the guy doesn’t suffer any pronounciation deficiency. Simply, castellano is missing both phonemes: ‘sp and sh.

You get curious and you start digging more on this strange deficiency of castellano. You end up discovering that here in the meseta central many phonemes, extensively used in latin and anglosaxon languages, are simply and fully missed:

1) sh as in English “shelter”, in italian sciogliere, in French choix, in Portuguese chuchu

2) sp & st, as in Italian spezia / storto, in English special / stark

3) soft s, as in Italian rosa, in Portuguese rosa, in French rose, in English rose

4) strong z, as in Italian pazzo, in German katze

5) psi, as in Italian psicologia, in French psicologia, in English psicology

6) csi, as in Italian xilofono, in English xilophone

It dosn’t end here: castellano does mix b and v up, they are pronounced with the same sound.

On the opposite, castellano has just one phoneme unknown to Italian, the j in Javier. Well, the ll too is slightly different from italian gl, but they are very very similar.


1) As the meseta central weather, castellano is a dried up language

2) Spaniards easily kill other languages when they use only familiar phonemes to interpret them (that is … most of the time 😉

Hey, I like to live in the meseta central!


4 Responses to “Help!!! Here in the meseta central many phonemes are missing”

  1. Patch said

    Hi, Francesco, I think you’re not being fair with us mesetarians. We use “csi” phonem as in Taxi (maybe not in Madrid, but for sure in Castilla) or Xilófono.

    Also, when I lived in Italy, I found that Italians weren’t able to pronounce Thank you because they don’t have the “th” phonem as in Cerrado in Spanish. That year also it was at the cinemas the film Hulk, pronounced Ulk by every Italian I spoke to 🙂 (In this case, we Spanish don’t pronounce it properly, with our “j”).

  2. fracardi said


    You are right with taxi / xilofono, I beg your pardon.

    Regarding Italian deficiencies, this wasn’t the focus of the post, however:

    1) In Italy we are not able to pronounce th as in thanks, but neither spaniards know how to do it, as you notice

    2) Same for h in hulk, Italians do not pronounce this well, but neither Spaniards do.

    Morover, in both cases, these two are not Latin sounds, that is sounds common in latin languages. The full point of the post is that castellano, as a latin language, is the one missing more latin phonemes among latin languages.


    • crepism said

      You’re right, Francesco 🙂 But Hulk is well pronnounced maybe in Andalusia where they have this sound for “j”.

      And about the pronunciation of Spanish, yesterday I was reading an English book where the author explained how Spanish said “just” pronnounced as “yust”. I can’t tell the difference between both 😦

  3. Patch said

    I was the one who replied you before 🙂

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