6 Pronunciation Tips to Speak Chilean Spanish
The following post is an excerpt from my book Speaking Chileno: A Guide to the Spanish of Chile. Launched in Chile in 2010, this book quickly became a bestseller. Now for the first time it is available outside of Chile in paperback and eBook Kindle.
This is the second of three posts on How To Speak Like a Chilean. The first post, 6 Grammar Hints to Speak Chilean Spanish is worth reading before this post. The third and last post of the series is 4 Non-Verbal Chile Spanish Expressions: Gestures To Go Native Chilean.
Again, I only want to point at a couple examples of Chilean pronunciation, to start you on your way as you begin to notice the nuances of the spoken Spanish in Chile. Please keep in mind that pronunciation hints in this section are based on English sounds (with probably a slight American slant).
How To Speak Like a Chilean Part 2 | Chilean Spanish Pronunciation
1. CH as an English SH sound
Some Chileans pronounce all words with ch (including Chile) as if it were an English sh sound (shi-lé to mean Chile).
2. Words ending in a vowel and then -do or -da lose the letter D
Words such as tendido, patada, amasado, and patudo will most often sound like tendío, patá, amasao or patúo where the speaker will drop the D completely. The AO sound is pronounced like OU in ouch or OW in cow. In the case of -ada ending words like patada, one of the vowels is completely eliminated. The result is patá with the accent replacing the missing vowel (be sure to understand the difference in pronunciation between pata and patá).
3. Phrase “para el” or “para la” is shortened
The phrase para el becomes pa’l to create only one word (pronounced like PAL in palm). In the case of para la it remains two words but loses a syllable, to result in pá la. For example, the phrase quedar para la cagada becomes quedar pá la cagá (rule 2 above).
4. A word ending in the letter A immediately followed by another word beginning in the letter D, drops the D
The common phrase a donde la viste becomes a ‘onde la viste, dropping the D. As another example, cabeza de pescado is pronounced as cabeza ‘e pescao.
5. Words ending in -von drop the V
The -vón ending in a word, as in the prevalent word huevón, drops the V and is pronounced hue-ón (way-un).
6. Errors in pronunciation
As in with all languages, you may run across people that mispronounce a word, making it even harder for you to understand the sentence. These common mispronunciations will help you look out for other similar mistakes as you learn Chilean.
Keptchup to say ketchup
Picza or pipza for pizza
Rempujar for empujar
Resfalar for resbalar
Toballa for toalla
Ampoa or ampoha for ampolla
Have you run across any other examples?
Check out these other Chile Spanish Slang Word articles.