Cuban Dialect of Spanish
As of recently, I've spent time with some people from Cuba, and I've noticed that in some words them omit the letter "s" when speaking. Can anyone explain when it is omitted and when it's kept in so I can understand them better? Thanks in advance.
This happens with many, many dialects, even some in Spain. Usually "s" are omitted when they are not followed by a vowel. You would never omit the s in words such as "ser, quererse, mesa, repisa, silla, risa, etc." but you could definitely not hear in it words such as "estar, any word that finishes with an s, estrella, hasta, etc.". Usually the "s"s don't really disappear completely, but are replaced by a strange "h" sound. So "estar" doesn't become "etar" (which is a mistake MANY foreigners do when they try to imitate dialects and they sound ridiculous) but more like e-H-tar. It's not a spanish "h" because that's obviously not pronounced, it's really hard to describe. You have to blow a bit of air out of your mouth. It's like the english "h" in "hard" but without the following "a", just the "h" sound alone.
That's fabulously helpful. I hope you'll be able to leave that up, for future linking to.
The first time I heard someone talking about escuela without the s, I was completely confused! I'm pretty sure they were not Cubans, though. It would be interesting to see a map of where this happens.
Enrique Iglesias does this in the chorus of the song El Perdón ("esto no me gusta" sounds more like "ehtu no me gu(s)ta"). It's pretty subtle there, and he doesn't consistently do it, so it's hard to tell if it's intentional or if just a combination of various accents (or even creative license) influencing him.
No, actually he doesn't. I just listened to it twice and he pronounces it well. I heard he left out an "s" somewhere else at the end of a word, but that was it. His accent is a mixture and sometimes inconsistent, but he pronounces quite well. The other guy who sings with him though, omits the Ss sometimes often (but yeah, not always)! I assume you meant him. It's a great example hahaha.
Hmm, you don't think he does it at 1:16? When the line is repeated just after that I hear the "s" clearly, but the first time he says "esto" in that chorus, I can't hear an "s" at all.
I'll go back and listen to the other voice more carefully. Honestly, I didn't notice it happening other than that one line, since it's the easiest part of the song for me to understand in real-time.
Edit: You're right about the other singer. His "dropping the s" is more noticeable, but I have to pay closer attention since his voice isn't as clear to me. Hard to notice the dropped s if I don't know what he's saying in the first place :)
Ah you're right. I missed it. He says "eHto" but he does say the S in gusta. Well if you follow the lyrics on a different site I'm sure it'll be much easier to understand. The other guy has a Puerto Rican accent. Once you get used to it it's not difficult.
I forgot to add that this sound is not made when it's the final S that is being omitted. You just leave it out.
That makes sense now. I've heard people use "estoy" with a similar sound. Thank you for explaining!
<--------- this guy is Cuban.
Cuba is a long island (though archipelago is the most accurate word) and people from the eastern and western sides speak with noticeably different accents, while it is said that in the center provinces the proper Spanish better kept. It does happen that there is a general tendency to omit the "s" in spoken language, not only the "Ss" preceding consonants, but also the ones at the end of words.
This occurrence is far more extended in the eastern part and it is often criticized by western and central speakers because it is considered an improper alteration of the language. For this reason - along with some others that are not part of this thread-, western inhabitants, mostly from Havana, are always "at war" with "los orientales" making fun of their lack of final "Ss" in words. Although it is quite funny from another point of view because people from Havana are known for the stereotype of not totally omitting the "Ss" (as thakelo, explained it very well with his examples) but pronouncing a sort of English "h" or Spanish "j" instead of the "s", which in Cuba they call "aspirar la ese" (inhaling/breathing in the "s"?)
I would add that no matter the geographical location, speaking a more formal and proper Spanish has a lot to do with the cultural background of the speaker, the setting they are at and their educational level. When I am among foreigners, I speak way slower, emphasizing on a perfect pronunciation and always making sure I don't do the mumbling I do when speaking to my brother, other family members or people from the neighborhood.
Another way that US English speakers can approximate a palatal fricative is by saying "huge" and exaggerating like it was the biggest thing you've ever seen. The palatal fricative will be what happens at the beginning of the word (the "h"). In this case it is voiceless, but you should be able to voice it easily enough when you need to.
This is true of many Caribbean Spanish dialects. The "s" is usually cut off at the end of words. Sometimes, it's also cut off in the middle of a word right before a consonant.
Here is a link to a course where you can hear the Cuban Spanish accent (first lesson is free) > http://courses.cubanspanish101.com/