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Phonological Influences

Spanish speakers may demonstrate the following tendencies when learning English pronunciation:

Spanish English
Final consonants are often devoiced
The word frozen may be pronounced frose.
The "h" is sometimes silent in Spanish, particularly at the beginning of words.
For example, the word hold may be read or spelled ‘old
The sound "ch" in English may be substituted by "sh" For example, shoe may be read or spelled as chew or choe
Letter "j" (i.e., judicial) does not exist in Spanish For example, judicial may be read or spelled as yudicial.
The sound of the voiceless "th" (like "thin") doesn't exist in Spanish. For example, think may be read or spelled as tink
The sound of voiced th (that) does not exist in Spanish For example, that may be read or spelled as dat or zat.
The v in Spanish is pronounced with the /b/ sound For example, very may be read or spelled as berry
The schwa sound is inserted before initial consonant clusters For example stay may be read or spelled estay or skate may be read or spelled eskate
Words in Spanish end in many different sounds. (e.g. a, d, e, i, o, u, l, n, r, s,) The sounds at the end of words may be omitted.
/i/ may be substituted with /ee/ wig may be spelled or read as weeg or whistle may be spelled or read as wheestle
/e/ may be substituted for /ae/ hat may be read or spelled het
/ah/ for /ae/ Frank may be read or spelled Frahn

Source: Adapted from Roseberry-McKibbin (2002, p. 85) & Shipley (1992, p. 371)

Grammatical Influences

Spanish speakers learning English may change the following morphological markers:

Spanish English 
Structure Possible Miscue Structure

a. ‘no’ before the verb

A ella no le gusta el arroz.

a. She no like rice. a. She doesn’t like rice.

b.double negative format may be used

A Jorge no le gusta nada.

b. Jorge don’t like nothing.

b. Jorge doesn’t like anything.

a. La niña bonita.

b. El carro azul.
a. The girl pretty.

b. The car blue.
a. The pretty girl.

b. The blue car.
However, there are some Spanish noun phrases in which the adjective precedes the noun, such as:
Use of numerals
tres libros
  (three books)
Use of comparative terms
gran maestro
  (great teacher)
Use of ordinal numbers
la tercera mujer
  (third woman)
Comparative adjectives are often marked with more instead of ‘er’
El es más grande que yo.
He is more big than I. He is bigger than I.
Question Formation The formation of questions in Spanish does not require the use of helping verbs/auxiliary verbs.
Tienes hambre?
Have you hunger? Are you hungry?
3rd person present tense
Ella canta muy bien.
She sing beautifully (omission of ‘s’) She sings beautifully.

a. Plural ‘s’ may be omitted

Estos libros pesan mucho.


Esos libros son muy pesados.

a. These book are heavy. a. These books are heavy.

b. Regular past tense ‘ed’ may be omitted

El caminó ayer.

b. He walk there yesterday. b. He walked there yesterday.

c. Subject pronouns may be omitted

Esas niñas son inteligentes. Estudian juntas todo el tiempo.

c. Those girls are smart. Study together all the time. c. Those girls are smart. They study together all the time.

d. Future tense may omit the helping verb

Yo voy.

d. I go. d. I am going.
Preposition after a verb
There is no equivalent.

To call on /to visit/to ask

To call up /to telephone
Ésta es la casa de mi madre.
This is the house of my mother. This is my mother’s house.
To be/have (years of age).
a. Tengo 8 años.

b. Tengo hambre.

c. Tengo sueño.
a. I have 8 years.

b. I have hunger.

c. I have sleep.
a. I am 8 years old.

b. I am hungry.

c. I am sleepy.

Semantic Influences

Spanish speakers may demonstrate the following tendencies when learning English:

Cultural differences expressed through words
Kinds of Words
Words similar in form and in meaning
Words that are similar in form but represent different meanings (false friends)

“educado” means well-mannered, polite

Semi-false cognates such as “blanco” which is the color “white” in Spanish can sometimes be used as “blank”

“educated” means “has received formal instruction or is well-read”

A Spanish-speaker will say, "He is so educated" to mean, "He is so polite/respectful."

A Spanish speaker may use “blanco” in reference to a “blank” sheet of paper.

Words similar in meaning but different in form
Regionalisms: words that are used mainly in a certain geographical area or country

Guagua means bus in Puerto Rico but in Chile it is la micro

Choclo means corn in Peru but in Colombia it is maíz

"Sneakers" in northeastern U.S. are "tennis shoes" in mid-western U.S.

Pants/slacks in the U.S. are "trousers" in England.

According to Dalbor (1997), many Spanish words have been “borrowed" or incorporated into English such as:
Unusual meanings The street level of a building in Europe is usually the ground floor. The street level in the U.S. is usually labeled as the first floor.
Spanglish: This term refers to combining the root of an English word and adding a suffix of the other language. These words have been incorporated into the Spanish vocabulary of many Spanish-speaking communities in the United States.




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