Words that begin with "r" immediately following words that end with "s"
I have been trying to improve my speaking, as opposed to listening and reading, skills. I'm okayish at rolling Rs and at verbalizing most words (if spoken slowly enough). But one particular case gives me problems pretty much every time. When a word begins with r (como "restaurante") and follows certain consonants, especially "s" or "n" (como "un restaurante"). Because of the way my mouth sits at the end of a word like "un", it's extremely awkward to jump to the "r" verbalization. I end up making a completely wrong noise.
Another example: "Ahora veo que tenias razon".
I have no trouble saying either "tenias" or "razon" with a decent accent, but when I try to say them together, I either slur the s, miss the r (if that makes sense), or have to stop awkwardly in between the words to say each of them clearly.
Is this simply a matter of practice and time, or can anybody offer tips to improve in this area?
As a native speaker, I just found out that this is hard (or not natural) for me as well, I have to speak a little slower to say it right. Most likely because in chilean spanish, and I guess in other latin american accents too, the final 's' is silent, so it is a little easier to speak faster. Though in formal you should always pronounce it right.
Keep practicing! Good luck!
It's good to hear that even native speakers have trouble with pronunciation sometimes.
As that Chilean guy said, sometimes they don't even pronounce the 's'. I'm Puerto Rican and believe me, it's like Puerto Rican Spanish is completely different than any other country's Spanish. I don't think 'S' even exists in Puerto Rican Spanish alphabet.... so you could go for a more Boricua vibe and just skip the 's' all together. Lol.
This is a very interesting question! And, althought many people gave answers already, I will try to explain it. Actually, you have two questions, so let's go one by one.
1. How to pronounce N before R.
In linguistics, sounds that are used to distinguish words are called phonems. For example, in English K and R are different phonems, because they are used to distinguish CAT from RAT. In Spanish, the phonem N distinguishes NUEZ (nut) from JUEZ (judge), and also MESA (table) from NESA (a word that doesn't exist).
The thing is that phonems can be pronounced very differently. I mean, two different sounds can be included inside the same phonem. For Chinese people L and R are just two sounds that represent the same phonem, and that's why they have troubles with them. For us Spaniards, V and B are two sounds that represent the same phonem, and that's why we have torubles pronouncing "Give voice to nurses". These possible sounds in one single phonem are called allophones.
So, now that I explained what phonems and allophones are, I will tell you this: The phonem N has A LOT of alophones in Spanish. What does it mean? That Spanish speakers pronounce N in many different ways, depending on the sound that comes after it.
In this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KVtPMNosTUfeature=youtu.bet=1m3s ) you can find the 9 ways to pronounce the phonem N in Spanish, but don't be scared, you can pronounce it ANYWAY you want, because all these sounds are just allophones of the same phonem, so everybody will understand you and VERY VERY FEW people will notice if you do it wrong.
The easy way to sum it up is to say that, when you find troubles pronouncing N because of the next consonant, you just have to shape your mouth as if you were going to say that consonant and then, say an N.
Hmmm... Actually it was a lot of theory for jsut saying that you can do whatever you want. Hahaha. Let's move to the second question.
2. How to pronounce R before S.
If you have been watching movies, tv shows or videos in Spanish (or maybe having contact with actual Spanish speakers) beyond Duolingo, you may have noticed that the S is a sneaky sound in some positions, especially at the end of a word or a syllabe. This is more common in some areas than others, and pronouncing all the S you have to pronounce means that you are speaking with a more official/standard accent (at least it's like this in Spain).
I found this video which is very interesting linguistically speaking. This guy is from Andalusia (in southern Spain, where S tend to disappear at the end of a syllabe). Listen to his first sentence ( http://youtu.be/nXXuE2VdwBg?t=5s ):
He says: "Vamo(s) a ve(r), gente, me ponéi(s) ataca(d)o. No parái(s) de decirme en lo(s) comentario(s) que se me e(s)tá yendo el acento..." (Let's see, people, you're getting me on my nerves. You don't stop telling me in the comments that my accent is fading away...) He speaks about his Andalusian accent and the surrounding (closer to the offical standard) accent now that he lives in Madrid.
Every time this guy misses an S at the end of a syllabe (notice that S isn't lost in "se" because it's not the end of the syllabe), he changes the sound of the vowel to make it more open. But depending on the region the missing S can be pronounced as a smooth H, a strong Spanish J or even like nothing.
Now listen to this other part of the video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXXuE2VdwBgfeature=youtu.bet=2m56s ). The same guy is impersonating a native Madridian, so he changes his tone of voice and pronounces differently, with S at the end of syllabe. He says: "Ese hombre está loco. Está loco. Dice cosa(s) raras" (This man is crazy. He's crazy. He's saying weird things). You can notice perfectly how the end-of-syllabe S is clearly pronounced in both "está" and "raras", but... WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE S IN "cosas"?!?!?!? WASN'T HE SPEAKING LIKE A MADRIDIAN?!
Indeed, Madridians tend to miss some S, but all over Spain (and I'm almost sure it's the same in other Spanish speaking countries, but the diversity is so huge, that I can't generalize) there is an S that can be always missed: the S at the end of syllabe before an R. Usually it's not pronounced at all or substituted by a smooth H sound or a sort of attempt of an S.
So you can miss that S in words like "desratizar" (removing rats from a place) or in phrases like "las rosas" (the roses), "es raro" (it's weird) or "más rato" (more time).
This is true except for the Madrid Metro, in which you can hear a voice saying "Próxima parada: Ríos Rosas" (with a very strong, unnatural S at the end of the word ríos). Just a curiosity.
So yes, again a lot of theory just to say that you don't have to pronouce that S. Hahahaha.
I hope this will be useful. ^^
Thank you so much for the very well thought out response. I have always had a passing interest in linguistics, so I'm glad for the lesson.
With this issue of r-after-s pronunciation, I was aware of the numerous accents around the world that do not fully enunciate (or that swallow) the s, but somehow feel like it's cheating to "choose" an accent that I didn't come by honestly, if that makes sense. It would be as if a native Spanish speaker decided to learn English with an Australian accent, even though they lived in Canada. It would be fine, but people would look at him weird. It's possible I'm overthinking this problem.
Well, indeed, you don't have to choose any accent. The S-before-R is international and the N-before-R is absolutely free. Those will work everywhere!
I had trouble rolling my r's for a while too but now it just comes to me naturally. Everyone learns differently but what I did was: Get a piece of paper. Print off a list of tongue twisters in Spanish (trabalenguas). Pronounce them a million times as you go about your daily routine until you feel you've nailed it. Hope it helps!
This isn't going to help you much, but I have exactly the same problem. I can roll my r no problem, but, as I noticed when doing some reading, I can't say 'sonríe' without adding in an extra half-syllable between the 'n' and the 'r' (so it sounds like sonner-ree-ay) - this isn't even a matter of rolling the r, but just the tongue flick for which my tongue seems to be in completely the wrong place. It's the same when I trie your examples above.
I think the reasons for it is that in order to make either the flicky r or the rolled r, the tongue has to curl slightly to the roof of you mouth, but it has to approach it to do it (try holding the tongue to the roof and then trying to do either 'r' - it's hard!). When coming from a vowel, as in 'la razón', the tongue is free in the middle of the mouth after the 'a', so can easily and quickly be flicked up to the roof. However, when saying, for example, 'un', the tongue is already at the roof. This means that to create an 'r' sound, you have to flick the tongue down and then back up again. This is why I've been saying 'sonnerreeay' - because my tongue leaves the roof of my mouth creating an 'err' sound, before flicking back up for the Spanish 'r'.
Having said that, I have no idea how to prevent it, but understanding the problem can't help!
I had no problems speaking and pronouncing correctly (luckily, since I had some practice growing up with spanish speaking friends) but I did have some issues with certain words when trying to sing along with some Ricardo Arjona songs. Some of it is speed related, like I couldn't say "lo que esta bien esta mal" fast enough to get it all in there at the right speed, but with some practice I nailed it down. Some other problems were similar to your issue where the words themselves were/are the problem, and not the speed. For the longest time I couldn't pronounce the word Acostumbran, in the lyric "Y se acostumbran a mentir". I could say the word alone, but not with the Y se ahead of it. I recently was able to clear that one up. One that I just cant say everything correctly yet is the lyric from Fuiste Tu' when Arjona first comes in, in the second verse: "Fuiste tú, de más está decir que sobra decir tantas cosas," The "más está decir que sobra" just falls apart somewhere at esta, the first decir gets completely wrecked (lol), then I pause, and then clearly can say the last bit: "decir tantas cosas,". I guess the point I am trying to make is keep practicing, you'll get there - Suerte!