Sometimes it seems to me that the text-to-speech pronounces "yo" as "jo" (English phonetics for my transliterations). Also sometimes caballos is pronounced "cabajos" instead of "cabayos" as it was pronounced when originally introduced. Is this a real Spanish pronunciation pattern, or a bug in the text-to-speech?
There are a number of possible pronunciations from the "y" and the "ll" in Spanish. In Argentina they sound very similar to the "sh" sound in English. In Colombia they sound similar to the "ch". They can sound similar to an English "ly", "j", "sh", "ch", etc. It varies from region to region, even within one country. Coastal Spanish is somewhat different from interior Spanish, at least in Colombia, Venezuela and (I think) in Ecuador. This is a good question, by the way.
He/She means "jo" as in "Joe". Like an English "J". Westrick, it is experience that certain areas speak this like "jo" or "jsho". My native Spanish (Mexico) teacher and native Mexican speakers (Northeast) in my area do NOT say it that way... they say "yo" and "cabayo". I mentioned in an earlier post that the "jsho" sounds like Portuguese or Spain Spanish...There may be some Latin areas that speak it that way as well. But as stated, Northeast Mexico, is yo and cabayo......
Sounds "j" and "ll" take on a slightly VOICED palatal sound for native spanish speakers from Colombia. I don't know the reason for this, but this phenomenon occurs principally in spanish from this area.
I also have a friend from Puerto Rico that said "y" and "ll" with a slight "j" sound. To me, these cases sound like a combination of a "y" and a "j" sound. It's definitely not exactly like an English "j". But I'd agree with jalcruces that Mexicans seem to say what is probably the same as an English "y" sound.
I think it can be both. In the movie Pan's Labyrinth I distinctly remember the Faun saying jo and not yo.
The pronunciation on Duolingo sounds to me more like "zh" as in Dr Zhivago, or the French j, as in je, janvier, etc
On the plus side, when Duolingo asks me to speak in Spanish, it accepts my pronunciation of y and ll as in the English y. (I live in southwest France, and have never heard the "zh" pronunciation in the parts of Spain I visit.)