In this chapter you will:
- Review the sound of the letters “c” and “z” in certain combinations.
- Understand the difference in pronunciation between Latin America and Spain.
- Learn that the sound of the English “z” does not exist in Spanish.
- Learn the point of articulation of these sounds.
- Become aware of English words where the “s” sounds like a “z.”
- Learn to avoid pronouncing the “s” like a “z” in Spanish.
In this chapter we introduce the letters “c” and “z” in these combinations: za, ce, ci, zo, and zu. Their sound varies depending on the region. For example, in Latin America, they are pronounced like /s/ as in “sun.” However, in many regions of Spain, the pronunciation is like the “th” (/θ/) in “theater,” NOT like in “that.” Please keep in mind that the sound of the English “z” does not exist in Spanish. The sound /s/ is a voiceless alveolar fricative, since 1) the vocal chords do not vibrate; 2) it is articulated when the tongue touches the alveolar ridge, and 3) it requires friction. The sound /θ/ is a voiceless dental fricative, since 1) the vocal chords do not vibrate; 2) it is articulated when the tongue touches the back of the front teeth, and 3) it requires friction.
It is important that you understand what you have learned in this section. Please take this quiz before continuing with this chapter.
Discrimination exercise. Learning to identify sounds in Spanish is an important part of improving your pronunciation. Please listen to the following recording and indicate whether the speaker is using Latin American or peninsular (Spain) pronunciation.
REMEMBER, the voiced sound of the English “z” does not exist in Spanish. Therefore, make sure you don’t pronounce the Spanish “s” and “z” as an English “z.” Also, there are many cases in English where the “s” has a “z” sound as in “president.” Pronounce the “s” in “presidente” as an “s” in “social.”
In this recording, you will hear words in English (left column) and their Spanish cognates (right column). Listen to the speakers and repeat.
Self Analysis Activity
• El presidente de un país asiático se ensució el zapato al meter el pie en una zanja.
• Los esposos diseñaron una prisión que resolvería los problemas financieros del país.
• Rosa Rosales vivía en el desierto y usaba una pistola para cazar liebres.
• A Zoe Zambrano González le zumba el oído izquierdo todos los días.
• El sacerdote Zamora tenía razón: el zafarrancho fue causado porque en el zaguán alguien zambulló al gato.