Spanish soft g is [x]!

D. Ezra Johnson ezra_50 at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 23 22:51:01 UTC 1999

>The difference between the voiced velar stop  [g] (what most people call
>"hard G") and the voiced velar fricative is ONLY one distinctive feature,
>not a very noticeable one at that for speakers of English when it is in the
>middle of the word (e.g., the word AGAIN pronounced with a voiced

This may be true, but it seems to me that the American perception of the
Spanish "soft g", or the Spanish "j", is universally /h/ (e.g. [hozey] for
Jose, etc.)

The reason for this is simple: in Spanish, the sound is a VOICELESS velar

The Langenscheidt English-Spanish dictionary states:

"Before e, i [the pronunciation of g] is the same [as that] of the Spanish j
(below): coger, general."
"j. A strong guttural sound not found in English, but like the ch in Scots
loch, Welsh bach, German achtung..."

The phonetic symbol used is [x] with a cedilla, indicating
[I think] a palatalized (i.e. fronted) voiceless velar fricative.

Spanish does have a voiced velar fricative, but it's an allophone of
/g/ in medial position, e.g. in "agua".


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