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Distinción, Seseo and Ceceo

Standard pronunciation of s, soft c and z plus variants "seseo" and "ceceo"

Distinción

In Spanish pronunciation terminology "distinción" refers to what is also described as the standard pronunciation of the letters s, soft c and z. Standard pronunciation is found mainly in central and northern Spain. The name "distinción" describes how each of these letters has a different and distinct pronunciation from each other in what is considered standard pronunciation.

This is how these words containing s, soft c and z are pronounced using the standard pronunciation:

zapatoshoe

cervezabeer

contaminaciónpollution

casahouse

payasoclown

SevillaSeville

Seseo

There are regions, mainly Andalucía and the Canary Islands, and also Latin America where people do not follow this standard pronunciation of s, soft c and z. This phonetic phenomenom is called "seseo", where words that contain z or soft c (-ce-, -ci-) are pronounced as "s".

Here are some examples of how some words are pronounced with and without seseo:

With seseo:

zapatoshoe

Without seseo:

zapatoshoe

With seseo:

cervezabeer

Without seseo:

cervezabeer

With seseo:

contaminaciónpollution

Without seseo:

contaminaciónpollution

Ceceo

Some Spanish speakers pronounce the letter "s" as a soft c/z, this phenomen is called "ceceo". Again, this is frequently found in southern Spain, specifically Andalucía and in particular in rural areas, as well as more infrequently in some parts of Latin America.

Let's see some examples, pronounced with and without ceceo:

With ceceo:

casahouse

Without ceceo:

casahouse

With ceceo:

payasoclown

Without ceceo:

payasoclown

With ceceo:

SevillaSeville

Without ceceo:

SevillaSeville

Many Spanish speakers have a negative opinion of ceceo.

 

Clever stuff underway!