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Spanish Pronunciation Course

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Will Smith

Raquel December 7, 2022

How well does Will Smith speak Spanish? Pronunciation analysis

To know whether Will Smith speaks Spanish clearly or not, I’m going to use a video recorded in London. Will Smith and his son Jaden were invited to a Spanish TV program called “El Hormiguero”, where Will introduces one of his films (quite an old one but I found very few videos of Will speaking Spanish).

This is the video I’m going to use to analyze his pronunciation:

 

Could you say whether he has a thick accent or not?

Sentence 1. “La película es(tá) basada mil años en el futuro” – Pronunciation analysis

 

This is what Will Smith says, according to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA):
[la pi.’li.ku.la es ba.’sa.da mil. ‘a.ños. en el fu.’tu.Ro]

A Spaniard pronounces the sentence like this:
[la pe.’lí.ku.la es βa.’sa.ða mil ‘a.ños en el fu.’tu.ro].

 

Película

[pi.lí.ku.la] vs [pe.lí.ku.la]

Will Smith (and the vast majority of people who speak English as their first language) change the vowel sounds and say [pilíkula], [pilíkola] or [pilíküla], with [i] instead of [pe.lí.ku.la] with [e].

 

This word seems easy to say, nevertheless, it’s one of the words English natives mispronounce more often.

Listen to how a native pronounces the word “película”:

Other common pronunciation mistakes:

U / O

Spanish vowels practice:


Diptongues: Two vowels together

Remember:

Spanish vowels are all pronounced fully.

Spanish vowels are always pronounced the same way.

Diptongo ai:

Diptongo au:

Diptongo eu:

 

Basada

[ba.’sa.da] vs [βa.’sa.ða]

This isn’t a mistake. Will pronounces “basada” quite softly actually. It’s just that a native can notice the foreign accent.

He says something between [ba.’sa.da] and [βa.’sa.ða], but a Spanish native would pronounce the letters B and D even softer.

Will:

 

Native Speaker:

 

Letter D

There are 2 different D sounds in Spanish.

  1. Hard D

When should I use the HARD D? Examples

  1.  At the beginning of a sentence or after a pause.
    Dicen que va a llover.
    De vez en cuando deja de funcionar.
    ¿Sí? ¿Diga?
  2. After L or N.
    Espalda, andar, sandalia.
    Una vez al día.
    Me gusta la pasta al dente.
    ¿Cuando te vas? Me voy en dos días.
    Donde caben dos, caben tres.
  3. In order to emphasize.
    ¡Te-he-dicho-que-no!

2. Soft D

When should you use the SOFT D?

When the letter D is in the middle of the sentence it becomes weaker, above all if it’s between vowels.

(In colloquial speech, it could even be omitted.

How to say the SOFT D

It’s pronounced like “th” in those, this and although.
It doesn’t sound like “th” in through, throat or thief.
It doesn’t sound like the letter D in drive, end or address.

todo, lavado, adivinar
Tu padre viene después ddesayunar.
Me dieron dos diamantes.
Lo que dice Ana es verdad.

Letter B

Tips to pronounce BLOWN B / V

  • Your lips are not hermetically sealed.
  • The sound is produced by letting a trickle of air escape from your mouth, as you do when you pronounce the English V. But there’s one difference:
  • When you pronounce the Spanish BLOWN B / V [β], you produce the sound with your upper and lower lip. Your teeth don’t make any function.

Differences between Spanish B and English B letter V how to say it lips separated touch

 

1. When the letters B or V are in the middle of the word.
abrir, hablar, abuelo, sabor.
cava, ave, uva, calavera.

2. In the middle of the sentence.

Me gustaría ir a Barcelona en barco.
Te mereces una  buena recompensa.
El barco no puede zarpar.

Viví en Nueva York mucho tiempo.
Al volver del viaje vi a un viejo amigo*.

 

 

Futuro
[fu.tu.Ro] vs [fu.tu.ro]

Listen carefully how Will says futuro:

Pay attention to the letter T (it sounds something between English and Spanish T) and the letter R.

People often have trouble rolling their R’s in Spanish.

Will does not. He trills his R’s like a native but sometimes he trills the R when he should be pronouncing a SOFT R (the sound of “dd” in ladder or “tt” in butter in North American English).

Listen to the Spanish native pronunciation and compare:

 

Rock & Roll your R

 

Connected speech: Does Will speak fluently?

 

 

 

There are 4 links in this sentence:

  1. Película + es (pelícu laes)
  2. Mil + años (mi laños)
  3. Años + en (año sen)
  4. En + el (e nel)

How to link the words

There are 4 links in this sentence:

  1. Tiene + ación (tieneac ción)
  2. Acción + y (acció ny)
  3. Los + efectos (lo sefectos)
  4. Efectos + especiales (efecto sespeciales)

 

How to link the words

There are 5 links in this sentence, and most of them are quite more complex than those in the previous sentences (that’s because 2 new sounds result from the connected speech: [m] and [j]):

  1. Película + es (pelícu laes)
  2. De + un (deun/dun)
  3. Un + padre (umpadre).
  4. Y + un (jun)
  5. Un + hijo (u nijo)

pero la pelícu la͜es de͜um padre ju n͜i χo

 

 

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