nucular and Latino

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Wed Nov 14 11:57:10 UTC 2001

> >How come many Hispanic and non-Hispanic native speakers of English
> >pronounce "Latino" and "Latina" as if they were Spanish words when
> >speaking English?

> Is the question why it's /la'tinou/ instead of /l&'tinou/ or /l@'tinou/?
> [I've heard all of these, I think.] [replace /ou/ with /@/ for the female
> form.]
> Or is a more 'English' alternative suggested, along the lines of
/'l&t at nou/
> (like "domino"/"stamina") or /l@'tainou/ (like "albino"/"vagina")?
> [I don't think they need to mutate that far: several words -- such as
> "casino", "marina" -- are commonly pronounced with accented penult with
> without seeming 'foreign'.]
> -- Doug Wilson

I know nothing about phonetics (or linguistics, for that matter), but it
seems to me that a lot of Americans, both Hispanic and Anglo, pronounce
"Latino" in a way quite unlike "casino." They pronounce it the way one would
say Latino in Spanish. In mid-sentence the word Latino requires an acrobatic
maneuver: you have stop for a nanosecond to switch from English to Spanish
and then stop again for another split second to switch back to English. To
me it sounds like an affectation. The American pronunciation of lots of
foreign or borrowed words and names is interesting. Lots of Americans insist
on pronouncing the "gh" in Van Gogh like the "ch" in a Scottish loch,
although a regular g or k would be more natural, but wouldn't go so far as
to pronounce the initial G before the o like a German ch or Spanish j. And
they wouldn't dream of pronouncing Immanuel Kant the German way, because it
sounds too close to "cunt" for comfort. This "Latino" business grates on me,
possibly because I'm a Spanish speaker and not terribly fond of Spanglish -
although I presume that linguists reckon that Spanglish is just as
legitimate as English or Spanish. But that's another subject...

Paul Frank
English translation from Chinese, German,
French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese
Tel. +33 450 709 990 - Thollon, France
E-mail: paulfrank at

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