Elision of vowel phonemes

It is not vulgar.

Yes it is!

It sounds very vulgar to me.

It sounds natural to me.

I don't talk like that!

I talk like this only if I relax.

I hear it on the street.

Don't talk like that if you want to sound good.

All of this could be OPINIONS of people who are asked if they omit some sounds when speaking Spanish and if they think it is vulgar to do so.

The omission of sounds in colloquial speech is common to all languages. and is based on the famous and universal LAW OF MINIMAL EFFORT 🙂 Speakers of any language, when we do not feel the need to speak carefully pronouncing clearly all sounds, we tend to make as little effort as possible to communicate with each other.Why waste any more energy than necessary 😉 😉 .

Interestingly, the omission of sounds is stigmatized for the vast majority of speakers, and is associated with a low socioeconomic or sociocultural level. This social stigma makes many people think of this phenomenon as vulgar or inappropriate.

However, thanks to the studies by experts in Spanish languageIn this way, we can have RELIABLE INFORMATION to talk about phoneme elisions in conversational Spanish.

If anyone is suspicious of what we say, they can check it out in the phonetics manual "Sounds in context".published in Yale University Press by Professor Terrell A. Morgan.

The elision of sounds is a phenomenon that occurs when mainly in colloquial speechHowever, not only there, but it can also occur in more formal registers.

It should also be noted that elisions:

  • They do not occur equally in all dialects.
  • The faster we talk, the more elisions will occur.
  • The more colloquial the conversation, the more elisions there will be.

We have already discussed the issue of consonant elisionsWe would like to expand it and insist on this aspect because we are convinced that this is a very important and important issue. key to understanding conversational Spanish.

That is why today we would like to discuss omission of vowel phonemesi.e., of vowels, when two words come together in conversational Spanish.



Preliminary notions

Before addressing the subject, you should be clear about the following concepts:

Tonic syllable: The syllable that is pronounced with the most intensity within the word.

Unstressed syllable: It is (or they are) the syllables that are pronounced with less intensity within the word.

Tonic vowel: It is the vowel that is inside the tonic syllable.

Unstressed vowel: It is (or they are) the vowels that are inside the unstressed syllable(s).


In the wordñol\is the stressed syllable; "es" and "pa" are the unstressed syllables; "o" is the stressed vowel; "e" and "a" are unstressed vowels.

When a word ends in a vowel and the following one also begins with a vowel, it is very likely that the two words join. This is called union or synalefa, you can see the four basic rules here.


The unstressed /a/ at the end of a word 

Usually disappears if the following word also begins with an unstressed vowel, for example:

\And do you know how I found it? Sentada* on the couch." 

* In this example also the consonant "d" is softened so much that it is hardly pronounced.

We say that it is not usually pronounced because it is a variable rule. As we mentioned above, this does not occur in all dialects, and depends on how informally and quickly the phrase is spoken.




Merging of equal vowels

When two of the same vowels are joined together between words merge into one if neither is accented, that is, if both vowels are unstressed.

For example:

\"He tells me-he tells me-he tells me-he tells mee Elena / who wants me to goa a your party."

But if one or both of them are tonic, it can happen:

  • To be maintained in two different syllables.
  • That are based on a long vowel (usually happens when we speak too fast).

Example from merger in a single vowel:

\"Oh how cute the other day Miguel / said I'm going to put him in su hucha\"



Strong" and "weak" vowels in unions

Listen to the examples again and answer the following question: which vowels are lose strength or are they less audible at the joints?

Can you notice that some vowels are affected when they come into contact with the other strong vowels? These vowels become marginal vowelswhile the others become the core or most important part of the union.

In order to better understand conversational Spanish you have to be very clear about this and get used to the fact that some vowels are pronounced less strongly than others.

We recommend a lot of practice (guided, if possible), and we can assure you that by mastering this aspect you will have a much better understanding of conversational Spanish.


Stolen real conversation 😎 😎 😎 

Here is a new CRR. This time two people talk about their upcoming summer vacations and decide where to go and what to see. Have you ever been to Navarra? Have you ever visited the inside of a cave?



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