In this post we will see briefly how to pronounce the catalan consonants; we well have a look especially at the sounds that are different from the ones we are used to in the English language.
Consonants b, v, w
These three letters represent the same sound:
Examples of b: blau (blue), pobre (poor)
Examples of v: canvi (change), invent (invent, in this case the n is pronounced m)
Examples of w: watt (watt), waterpolo (water polo)
If the letter b is the last letter of a word you don’t have to pronounce it:
Example: amb (with)
Sometimes the b can sound like a p.
Examples: club (club), dissabte (saturday)
The unvoiced s and the voiced s (s, ss, c, ç, z)
S, ss, c (followed by e, i), ç (followed by a, o, u), z represent the sound s, that can be an unvoiced s (like the s in the english word rose) or a voiced s (like the s in the english word listen)
The unvoiced s can be written with one s, with ss between two vocals, with c or with ç.
The voiced s can be written with one s between two vocals or with a z.
Examples of unvoiced s: caça (hunt), rossa (blonde), savis (savy, sages), cel (sky), cim (top, peak), peça (piece), sol (sun), tassa (mug), cera (wax), cirera (cherry), feliç (happy), maça (bat, mace)
Examples of voiced s: casa (house, home), rosa (rose), avis (grandfathers), bellesa (beauty), zona (zone)
The consonant x can represent three different sounds.
The first one is similar to the english sh, the second one is the same of the sound of the x in english, and the third one, utilized when a word starts with ex followed by a vocal, is less strong, similar to the sound of the word “eggs”.
Examples of the sound sc: xinès (chinese), Xavier (Xavier)
Example of the sound x: taxi (taxi)
Exaples of the sound “eggs”: examen (exam), exèrcit (army)
Consonants g, j
The consonants g (followed by an e or and i) and j represents the same phoneme, a sound half way between the sound of the j in the english word “jet” and the sound of the french j (like in the world bonjour).
Before an e, i you have to utilize the g, before and a, o or an u you have to utilize the j.
Examples of g: gerani (geranium), girafa (giraffe)
Examples of j: esponja (sponge), jove (young), ajudar (help), Jordi (George)
The catalan n has the same sound of an english n, but in some cases it can have the sound of an m, for instance when it’s followed by an f.
Example: confessar (confesar, pronounced cumfesa)
It’s a rolling r, it has the same sound of the r in the italian and spanish languages, but if it’s the last letter of a word you don’t have to pronounce it.
Exaple: clar (clear)
It has the same sound of the english t, but if it’s the same letter of a word and it follows another consonant you don’t have to pronounce it.
Example: cant (singing)