The alphabet. Letter ñ and the digraph ll.

ñ (eñe)

The letter ñ is commonly described as the n in “onion” or in “canyon”. Unfortunately, that’s only partially true. It depends on exactly how you pronounce those words. Following that advice, chances are you end up pronouncing Begoña (female proper name) as begonia (“begonia”), with unpredictable consequences. Continue reading

The alphabet. Letters h, v, z… and j.

h, v, z

  • h (hache): the letter h is always silent. So, hola (“hello”) sounds exactly like ola (“wave”).
  • v (uve): unlike in english and many other languages, in spanish the letter v must be pronounced exactly like the letter b (bilabial, not labiodental). So, yes: vaca (“cow”) should sound exactly like baca (“roof rack”).
  • z (zeta): depending of the dialect, it is pronounced:
    • as th in thin (central and northern Spain): voz [boz] (“voice”).
    • as s in sin (pretty much everywhere else): voz [bos].

j (jota)

The sound of the letter j may be somewhat familiar to you. It is pronounced: Continue reading

The alphabet. The basics.

If you follow this blog, by now you have learned a bunch of new words and expressions. Well, you learned how to write them, but… How on Earth are they pronounced? Why didn’t I provide some kind of phonetic transcription for each of them?

Here comes the good news: Once you’ve learned some simple rules, the pronunciation of any Spanish word becomes predictable. Furthermore, most of the letters of the Spanish alphabet have only one possible pronunciation, regardless of their position in a word. Continue reading

Spanish subtitles: Alchemy

Again a new post in the series dedicated to Spanish videos with Spanish subtitles (in my opinion, one of the best ways to “train the ear”). This time, I present to you a new video from the Spanish TV program Cuarto Milenio (many thanks for pointing out your preferences in this respect in you comments!).

The topic of this video is the ancient philosophical, proto-scientific practice known as “alchemy” (in Spanish: alquimia). What is alchemy? What is its relationship with modern chemistry? What were the alchemists looking for? Continue reading

310 Spanish food words

Spanish plate of mojama

Mojama (Spanish salt-cured tuna)

You traveled to Spain for the holidays. You are at a Spanish Restaurant, trying to remember what is the Spanish word for “salt-cured ham”, but you can hardly remember even how to say “fork”. Too bad, Spanish cuisine is world renowned and you end up ordering “meat and potatoes” 🙁

Never again! Here you have all the Spanish food vocabulary your stomach will ever need, dished out in digestible chunks! Continue reading

Spanish subtitles: Did a meteorite kill the dinosaurs?

Spanish Learning Hacks comes back to life with yet another Spanish subtitled video. This time I have chosen an interesting one: Scientists have found new evidence that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by a meteorite impact. But I won’t give more clues: listen and discover yourself! Continue reading