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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

My Spanish teacher this semester is Spanish. From Spain.

What's up with that? Last semester, I had a non-native speaker as a teacher. This semester, I have someone from Spain. Is HACC having trouble finding Spanish speakers from south of the border? I was under the impression that there are millions of immigrants in the US from Mexico and Puerto Rico and Ecuador and plenty of other Central/South American countries. Yet, apparently, none of them have found their way into the languages faculty of HACC. Mind-boggling.

I'm not complaining about my Spanish prof, mind you; he's the coolest teacher I've had so far. He might not be the best language teacher (I suppose native speakers rarely are), but he's funny and interesting, and we have been learning much about Spanish culture from a knowledgeable primary source. However, he uses the 'vosotros' form of verbs, and he has the famous "lisp" on the letters 'c' and 'z,' which can sound mighty confusing at times.

I learnt about the "lisp" years before I started learning Spanish, but this is the first time I've heard it at length.

OH NOES! The story about a Castillian king who had a lisp and ordered that everyone speak with a lisp out of deference to him is apocryphal!!

"As a graduate student of the Spanish language and a Spaniard, being confronted with people who 'know' the origin of the 'lisp' found in most of Spain is one of my pet peeves. I have heard the 'lisping king' story many times, even from cultured people who are native Spanish speakers, though you will not hear it come from a Spaniard.

"Firstly, the ceceo is not a lisp. A lisp is the mispronunciation of the sibilant s sound. In Castilian Spanish, the sibilant s sound exists and is represented by the letter s. The ceceo comes in to represent the sounds made by the letters z and cfollowed by i or e.

"In medieval Castilian there were two sounds that eventually evolved into the ceceo, the ç (the cedilla) as in plaça and the z as in dezir. The cedilla made a /ts/ sound and the z a /dz/ sound. This gives more insight into why those similar sounds may have evolved into the ceceo."


Well, there goes that urban legend.
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