Beer or coffee?

On a recent holiday to Andalusia where they are no English speakers I ordered a beer in two different bar and in both cases I received very strong black coffee. Of course I said gracias even though the temperature was approximately 40 degrees and far too hot for coffee. My mistake: I pronounced cerveza like 'car-veh-sah' which does sound a bit like café. Now I know that the letter 'c' is more pronounced like 'th' - 'thair-veh-sah'.

Sent by: Mick


Anonymous 2011-04-16

The letter C sounds like S in America. The phonetic symbol for this sound is /s/. In Central and Northern Spain, the sound is pronounced /θ/, which is like the unvoiced TH in 'thin'.

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James, London 2009-03-13

I'm British and I lived in Cadiz for a few years. The Cadiz accent is supposed to be the most difficult in Spain, but it didn't stop me learning Spanish almost perfectly. I would say that if you can learn Spanish in Andalucia, then you'll have no problems speaking Spanish anywhere in the world. My advice is speak clearly and always ask for "vino tinto" when you want red wine.

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Silvia 2007-05-16

I'm Spanish, from Barcelona and I wanted to say that Andalucia is not the best place in Spain for learning Spanish because of the pronunciation. I always compare the Spanish of Andalucia to the English of the USA, same language, different pronunciation.

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Maria 2007-05-17

People in Andalucia don't pronounce "c" and "s" in the same way but if you want to pronounce those words correctly you have to pronounce "c" like "th", "s" like "s" and "z" like "th". Any other way of pronounciation will be incorrect.

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Richard 2006-06-05

I'm currently studying Spanish in León, in the north of Spain. I went on an excursion with the language course to Andalucía this weekend and it amazed me how many people tried to speak to me in English even though my Spanish is pretty decent. It never happens in León, nobody but the other students speaks English. Even the teachers only speak a few words.

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Diana 2006-03-13

We also got confused between Fino (sherry) and vino and were offered a whole bottle of sherry. At the time I couldn't understand what had gone wrong and just suffered in silence.

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Barry 2006-01-09

I also agree with Miguel on the pronouncation of cerveza in Latin America. When I was in the Dominican Republic and asked for a cerveza but pronounced with the the Castillian lisp, all I got was a blank stare. I then repeated my request but pronouncing the 'c' and 'z' as 's' - and got my beer.

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Maureen 2005-12-05

Miguel is absolutely right. I'm English, learning Spanish and living near Almeria, so many people speak English that it is difficult to practice Spanish. We are moving to Velez Blanco and I know it will be a race to learn Spanish before the Spanish learn English. Great fun, though, whether you pronounce 'c' as 's' or 'th'.

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Anna 2005-12-04

Similarly, on one of my first holidays to Andalucia, I always asked for a vino, and was very surprised at getting a 'Fino', a local sherry. After ten sherrys I decided to ask for a vino tinto instead. V and B sound the same.

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Miguel 2005-10-10

It's not true that "they are no English speakers" in Andalucía. After all it's one of the areas of Spain where a great number of British expats live and we locals know they don't bother to learn Spanish. We therefore have to learn at least enough English to communicate with them. Also, the letter 'c' in Andalucía is widely pronounced 's'. So you hear locals say 'ser-be-sa' (there's no difference between 'v' and 'b' in Spanish). In the Canary Islands and the whole of Latin America the letters 'c' and 'z' are always pronounced 's'.

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