Do Spanish speakers insert nonSpanish accents into their speech when enunciating nonSpanish names

Do Spanish speakers insert non-Spanish accents into their speech when enunciating non-Spanish names?

That’s a pretty complicated question, actually.

I’m not sure about all Spanish-speaking countries because there are A LOT, but I do know about Mexico, and the answer is that it depends on the context and the person speaking.

For example:
Most of the kids at my school are decently good at English, but not all of them have the ability to adopt an American accent when pronouncing an English word.
People who are fluent in English and Spanish and have nice accents in both (I consider myself to be one of them) get to choose the pronounciation they want to give a word, while people who don’t know English will have no choice but to pronounce it however they can (since the pronounciation of the letters in both languages is completely different, the result is usually a word that makes absolutely no sense in either.
For instance: a Mexican non-English speaker would read the word “chorus” as “cho (as in “chop”) -roos”, when the Spanish translation of the word is “coro”.
If both a native English speaker and a native Spanish speaker were to listen to the word, neither would understand it).
So it depends a lot about whether the speaker even knows how it should be pronounced.
Most people have no idea how to pronounce English words, so the majority of the population just uses their native accent.

For people who know English, though, the rules are a little more complicated.

The thing is, Spanish and English are very different languages to pronounce, so:
• If you insert an American accent in the middle of a Spanish conversation, you sound ridiculous
•If you insert a Mexican accent in the middle of an English conversation, you also sound ridiculous
It’s like playing a song using a piano and a saxophone alternatively.
It’s fucking annoying and it’ll just sound wrong anyway.

Since it’s so annoying changing from one accent to another all the time, we just stick with using a permanent Mexican accent with common words, such as names of celebrities, companies or brands (Coca-Cola, Marvel, Ashley).
Yeah, we’re lazy.
We’re aware.
But for more specific things like less common company names or names of books (General Motors, for example, which everyone knows as GMC, or “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), we will strangely go through the hazzle of changing the way we read, understand and pronounce the letters.

I personally use a mix between a Mexican and an American accent that I’ve developed over time specifically for these situations.
It’s a bit harsher than English would normally be and a bit softer than Spanish, but this changes from person to person.
I don’t bother doing this when ordering a Sprite at a restaurant, though.

When a monolingual Spanish speakers attempt to pronounce a non-Spanish name, they usually render it the closest they can understand into the phonetic system and prosody of Spanish (and their particular accent).
If they know the written form, they will try to match the orthography, with some probable substitutions (such as English ‹j› for Spanish ‹y›, instead of Spanish ‹j›).

The result is that the word will sound as any other Spanish word, with no alien accent (phonetics, intonation, prosody), and the word might be completely unrecognizable to a native speaker.

Spanish speakers who are familiar to the original language of a word, might attempt to a better utterance of the word within Spanish phonotactics, or would attempt to even a closer pronunciation, changing sounds, intonation, and prosody to match the original.

For me it sounds a little pedantic when intonation and prosody changes too much from Spanish when you are using a foreign word (v.
a name) in the middle of an otherwise common sentence in Spanish.
It is not common, but some people do.
Personally I try to do my best to match the foreign word to the phonetics of Spanish, allowing for a few extra sounds such as ‹sh› or ‹v›, but within intonation and prosody of my own Spanish accent.

Similarly, when I speak English or Swedish and I have to say a Spanish name (such as mine), I usually keep the English or Swedish intonation and prosody of my far from perfect accent.

Updated: 16.06.2019 — 12:54 pm

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