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How to pronounce LL in Renaissance Spanish



Dear Listers,
first of all thank you so much to all of you for your sharing your thoughts
and experience.

Before going to the result let me tell you that I'm biased on the subject
because here in Italy it is commonly thought that the double "ll" sounds
like the "y" in the word "yes".
I don't know where does this assumption come from but this is what you
normally would learn even from spanish teachers in school.

Before asking the list I asked a couple of native spanish singers and they
both told me that nowadays in Madrid the pronunciation of the double ll is
similar to the italian "gi" sound, and this is confirmed by a couple of
messages:

Ginny Siggia wrote:
"...My exposure to differences in "ll" is limited, but I notice the
following. I have a student from Colombia whose ancestry is Catalan
Spanish. His surname is Lleras, with the "ll" pronounced "zh" as in a very
soft "ggi" in Italian (e.g. Siggia, my surname, pronounced by someone who's
had too much to drink), or as the final g in "garage" in English or French,
or zh as in a lot of Russian words.[...]"

and Diana wrote:
"[...]I'm a native spanish speaker, [...] and the LL sounds like when you
pronounce the word "MANGIARE" the "G" sound in this word[...]"

On the other hand it is true that different region of Spain do pronounce
differently, and I've been told that Mexico and Argentina have their
different way of pronouncing it.

my friend Carlos wrote:
"[...]spanish people over the world pronounce
some letters rather differently (specially the "LL", and here in Argentina
so much --we pronounce the double "L" like the "sh" in english--). But, in
"real" spanish you have to pronounce the "LL" as an "L" and an "i", for
example: "Valle" = "Valie"; "Llega" = "Liega", working hard to say a soft
"i" after de "L".[...]"

so, besides the problem of describing the actual pronunciation, we are
getting different opinions...

eduline(a)juno.com wrote:
"[...]The double "l"
y as in "yes"[...]"

and Societat Coral Il·lustració Artística [coralstquirze(a)hotmail.com] wrote:
"[...]In Spain it was pronouinced like the "y" in
"you" but touching the palate with the tongue. It's quite difficult, but if
you pronounce it just like a "y", that will be enough. [...]"

and so the "y" way scores another point...

Eduardo Azzati wrote:
"[...]I was tought in my
XV/XVIth century vocal/choral music class many years ago that it should be
pronounced "i" as in the English "sea," but somewhat shorter.[...]"


John Howell, after pointing out that one has to choose the dialect to go
with, wrote:
"[...]modern Spanish pronunciation,
in which (yes, there are still definite dialects and different
pronunciations) double L is pronounced like English Y as in
Yesterday[...]"

which may not hold true in Madrid as we saw, but it's clearly a common
opinion.

There's another good observation about using "y":
eduline(a)juno.com wrote:
"[...]Here is the way everybody in Argentina would do it.
[...]The good thing about this point of view is that South America was first
colonized by Spain and Portugal, so the Spanish language that got mixed
with the original Indian people's languages was preserved in a relatively
archaic stage.[...]"

but of course, as John pointed out:
"Fifteenth century Spain was not a single country and did not have a
single language. Every major part of Spain had its own dialect and I
would not expect to find words pronounced the same way in Madrid and
Granada[...]"

so whoever brought spanish to Argentina it's likely to have brought his own
accent and pronunciation.

I'll add that I have a couple of Jordi Savall's recordings of renaissance
work and he is using "y" as well: of course it may be his dialect but I
think he wouldn't opt for this pronunciation without studying the subject.

Let's move to "v"

Ginny wrote:
"[...]I believe the letter "v" is linguistically similar to "b" in any
language with Latin roots. In Spanish, my first name, Virginia, is
"birhinia." It's not a real hard b, but a soft sound, almost an
afterthought. I would pronounce "valle" as "vah-yay." I don't remember if
anyone ever explained (when I was studying Spanish, a long time ago) when v
would be a real "v" and when it would have a touch of "b." One of my
college classmates who majored in Greek and Latin once told me about ancient
pictures depicting sheep, bleating "vaa vaa" -- where in English we surely
would say "baa baa." So this b/v similarity has old origins![...]"

I must admit that I love the "afterthought" metaphore!!

eduline(a)juno.com wrote:
"[...]v
the same as b, labial, short like in the word
a b ide.[...]"

Eduardo referring to his XV/XVIth century vocal/choral music class wrote:
"[...]If my memory doesn't trick me the "v" would be as in the Italian
"vino"[...]"

so this is a bit different.

Carlos surprised me writing:
"[...]Regarding the "v", you have to make a little effort, and
pronounce it as a very, very soft "F"[...]"

And this is the only answer of this kind I've received so far.

Societat Coral Il·lustració Artística [coralstquirze(a)hotmail.com] stays with
Eduardo:
"[...]In the XV century i
think the "v" was pronounced like in "visit"[...]"

Phil Michael, on the other hand, wrote:
"i'm pretty sure the v would become a b[...]"

and so does John:
"[...]and V is almost indistinguishable from B[...]"

is this "almost" referred to Ginny's "afterthought"?

but Diana, native speaker, wrote:
"[...]THe V sound would be like if you say in italian "VERO"[...]"

Finally, my spanish speaking friends would pronounce it like a very soft "b"
with the lips almost not touching each other, but they admit this is what
you would do in the XXI century, which clearly says not much about
reanissance.


====My conclusions===After all this I'll go for a "y" sound for the double "ll", trying to have
my singers put their tongue up the palate so that the sound would be more
similar to the modern way of pronouncing.
I don't pretend this is absolutely correct but I'm convinced it won't offend
native spanich speaking audience and it will help the choir legato.
As for the "v" I'll go for something in between "b" and "v" more or less for
the same reason.

Thank you very, very much to you all.

All the best,

Pierfranco



======Your opinions=====
-----Ginny Siggia [siggia(a)MIT.EDU]-----

My exposure to differences in "ll" is limited, but I notice the following.
I have a student from Colombia whose ancestry is Catalan Spanish. His
surname is Lleras, with the "ll" pronounced "zh" as in a very soft "ggi" in
Italian (e.g. Siggia, my surname, pronounced by someone who's had too much
to drink), or as the final g in "garage" in English or French, or zh as in a
lot of Russian words.


Then there is the word llama, that furry beast from the Andes, which I have
never heard pronounced any way but "lama". On the other hand, "llamar" in
Spanish is the verb "to name" and it is pronounced "yamar". I don't know if
there is a linguistic connection between the beast llama and the verb
llamar.


I believe the letter "v" is linguistically similar to "b" in any language
with Latin roots. In Spanish, my first name, Virginia, is "birhinia." It's
not a real hard b, but a soft sound, almost an afterthought. I would
pronounce "valle" as "vah-yay." I don't remember if anyone ever explained
(when I was studying Spanish, a long time ago) when v would be a real "v"
and when it would have a touch of "b." One of my college classmates who
majored in Greek and Latin once told me about ancient pictures depicting
sheep, bleating "vaa vaa" -- where in English we surely would say "baa baa."
So this b/v similarity has old origins!


That's not any help in terms of deciphering XV century Spanish vs
contemporary Spanish (in its multitude of accents), but it's a sample of the
differences in ll and v. Languages are fun.


I hope you are satisfied with whatever decisions you make about
pronunciation.


--Ginny
--
__________________________________________________________________________
Ginny Siggia Tel: (617) 258-8131
Administrative Assistant Fax: (617) 258-8073

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Email: siggia(a)mit.edu
Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 1-240
Cambridge, MA 02139
__________________________________________________________________________


-----edulino(a)juno.com-----

Dear Pierfranco,
I was born and raised in Argentina. By the time I first joined a choir,
the "boom" new music to perform there was Spanish Renaissance. Of course
academics and discussions about pronunciation flourished between singers
and colleagues. Here is the way everybody in Argentina would do it. -
they are people with a great sense of pride as for at least trying to do
it right - As you said - and I hope one day many people say the same
about Latin and other long time gone languages - no word here is final.
The good thing about this point of view is that South America was first
colonized by Spain and Portugal, so the Spanish language that got mixed
with the original Indian people's languages was preserved in a relatively
archaic stage.

The double "l"

y as in "yes"

v

the same as b, labial, short like in the word

a b ide.

Hope it helps!

e

-----Eduardo Azzati [eazzati(a)ptd.net]-----

Yes, you're right, when it comes to daily, conversational speech, double
"ll" in Spanish is treated in many different ways.

However, when applied to music from the Renaissance I was tought in my
XV/XVIth century vocal/choral music class many years ago that it should be
pronounced "i" as in the English "sea," but somewhat shorter. So "valle"
would sound "vaie"

If my memory doesn't trick me the "v" would be as in the Italian "vino"

Good luck.

Eduardo Azzati

-----Eduardo Azzati [eazzati(a)ptd.net]-----

Dear Pierfranco,

Hello again!!!. If you're going to sing spanish music, you have to pronounce
spanish as an spanier. Is true that spanish people over the world pronounce
some letters rather differently (specially the "LL", and here in Argentina
so much --we pronounce the double "L" like the "sh" in english--). But, in
"real" spanish you have to pronounce the "LL" as an "L" and an "i", for
example: "Valle" = "Valie"; "Llega" = "Liega", working hard to say a soft
"i" after de "L". Regarding the "v", you have to make a little effort, and
pronounce it as a very, very soft "F".

Good luck my friend.

CARLOS.
carloman(a)fullzero.com.ar
corobp(a)bapro.com.ar

-----Societat Coral Il·lustració Artística [coralstquirze(a)hotmail.com]-----

Hi!

Well, it's true that the "ll" is pronounced in different ways in the
different parts of the world. In Spain it was pronouinced like the "y" in
"you" but touching the palate with the tongue. It's quite difficult, but if
you pronounce it just like a "y", that will be enough. In the XV century i
think the "v" was pronounced like in "visit".

-----Philm54(a)aol.com-----

i'm pretty sure the v would become a b.... not sure about the ll

good luck!

Phil Micheal
Director of Music
Jefferson Ave. Presbyterian Church (A great place to be!)
Detroit, Michigan
church website: www.japc.org

-----John Howell [John.Howell(a)vt.edu]-----

Fifteenth century Spain was not a single country and did not have a
single language. Every major part of Spain had its own dialect and I
would not expect to find words pronounced the same way in Madrid and
Granada. The best guide is probably "Singing Early Music," edited by
Tim McGee, with chapters on different languages and different
historical periods by specialiests, and pronunciation given in I.P.A.
Even with this help, however, I had to arbitrarily decide which
dialect to go with.

The easy way out, of course, is to use modern Spanish pronunciation,
in which (yes, there are still definite dialects and different
pronunciations) double L is pronounced like English Y as in
Yesterday, and V is almost indistinguishable from B.

John


--
John & Susie Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John.Howell(a)vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html


-----jade.zephyr [jade.zephyr(a)email.it]-----

Hello Pierfranco,

I'm a native spanish speaker, you have to pronounce the word valle, like
this:

THe V sound would be like if you say in italian "VERO", and the LL sounds
like when you pronounce the word "MANGIARE" the "G" sound in this word:

So a transcription for italian would be: VAGGIE , take caro of stressing
too much the IE sound at the end, it has to be short.

Hope to keep helping !

Regards

Diana



on May 24, 2007 10:00pm
Hi. I'm cherisa and my last name is Valle.

I'm from the Philippines and i just moved in here in the US one month ago.

People just keep on pronouncing my name differently from what my country used to.

"Valle" in the Philippines was pronounced as "Val-ye" and i haven't met anyone in here who could pronounce it like that.

Just sharing. :)