Spanish speech impediment?

Working with a new driver last night I noticed something odd about his speech:
he tends to drop off the consonant off the end of his words.

For example, five becomes fie, thing becomes thin or even thih, around becomes arow, etc.

I’ve noticed this occurring in a handful of other hispanics I’ve encountered…is this a common impediment amongst hispanics?

You’re aware of the difference between impediment' and accent’, right?

If I noticed a pattern like that among a population that shared a common mother tonuge, I would not be quick to call it an impediment. Perhaps I’m completely wrong, and these people do not (as your title seems to imply) share Spanish as their first language. But the idea of a shared accent seems like a fruitful avenue to investigate, if nothing else.

Are they Cuban or Puerto Rican hispanics by any chance?

I’d also be quicker to call it an accent than an impediment.

Now, this is just a guess, but I think part of the reason is that the stops between words in Spanish occur in different places than those in English. Words often end with vowel sounds, where as words in English seem to more frequently end in consonant sounds. For example:

Estoy hablando de la lengua.

I am talking about the language.
See how the Spanish ended in more vowel sounds and the English in more consonants? Because the hispanics are not used to the consonant endings, they may have a bit of trouble pronouncing them.

I´ll go with the accent explanation; one of my brother´s mate at the naval academy is a Panama exchange student, he drops the last consonant of words all the time, for example he says “seño-o” instead of “señor”. Over here in Uruguay that accent trend is mostly asociated with lower classes speech or very informal talk, like saying “vamo-o” instead of “vamos” (“let´s go”)

So no, unless there are clinical conditions to speak of, it´s not a speech impediment, just an accent.

Following up on Balthisar’s and ale’s comments, dropping the consonants at or near the end of words is a common feature of the “Caribbean” Spanish accent, found in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and also Panama.

e.g. venado, "deer,’ becomes vena’o, dañado, “damaged,” becomes daña’o, etc.

There is also a tendency to drop or soften “s:” estos becomes ehtoh.

However, what the OP is talking about is more likely due to the fact that certain consonant combinations found in English do not occur in Spanish. For example, “v” rarely if ever occurs as a terminal consonant sound (it would almost always be followed by a vowel); “ng” and “nd” do not occur terminally (and would normally be pronounced as part of two different syllables in any case). Spanish speakers may drop these sounds rather than try to pronounce them.

And yes, what you describe is an “accent,” not an “impediment,” unless you consider the inability of many English speakers to properly roll their r’s an impediment.

I didn’t think it was an accent: the majority I’ve encountered and worked with could pronounce their ending consonants just fine.

This driver probably just has a stronger accent.

Then the answer to the OP is “no.” If it was really an impediment and not an accent, then it is not particulary common among hispanics.

It’s an accent, not a speech impediment. Says someone who speaks similar to that in English, and knows others that do the same. Easier for me to say, and sometimes I don’t mind getting the exact pronunciation right as long as they understand me.

Following up what Colibrí said: Some of those accents are vulgar, or wrong pronunciations(dañao, venao, etc.). Not supposed to be used if you’re giving a presentation, for example.

Dropping the ‘s’, specifically at the end of the word, is accepted as long as the next syllable does not start with a vowel.

Correct: Lah mujereh lindas instead of las mujeres lindas.

Incorrect: Loh hombreh guapos instead of Los hombreh guapos.

BTW, the alleged origin of this speech pattern (aspirated final consonant) among Caribbean-Spanish speakers is from Andalusian and Southern-Castille Castellano. The pattern from the native dialect carries over to the learning of the second language. Now… English may have a relatively simple grammar, but its phonetics can be a serious problems for some ESL learners – specially those from languages that use fewer phonemes, or that use very different phonemes. (I have also heard speakers of some Asian languages drop some final consonants, e.g. “fifteen dollah”, apparently patterned on how their language handles in what sound a syllable may or may not end).

We got a Naval Academy in Panama? Donde the heck?

As far as I know, Uruguay doen’t have a Naval Academy here, compa. :wink:

Very true! That is why you see so many people in the Spanish Caribbean who say pe’si instead of Pepsi (I noticed a couple of people in Puerto Rico doing the same).

Some English words are pretty hard for the Spanish speaker because they either have a few consonants following each other (something that is almost non-existent in Spanish), words that end in two consonants or words that to us should sound the same yet change due to context.

As Latin evolved into the various Romance languages, most of the consonant clusters that had been present in Latin were simplified. The consonant cluster pl in Latin has usually evolved into pi in Italian. Other clusters, such as dj, kt, and ks almost always became simplified to just the second element. For example:

[li]Latin plangere -->Ital. piangere (to cry)[/li][li]Latin sexus --> Ital. sesso (sex) (remember in this example the ‘x’ actually stands for the cluster ks.)[/li][li]Latin administratione–>Ital. amministrazione[/li]

I bring this up because the OP indicates that this process is still going on in Romance languanges today, to an extent that I wasn’t aware of. Probably no language has gone so far in this respect as French.


Right. The student is from Panama, he is at the (presumably Urugayan) Naval Academy. (Presumably, as Ale is posting from Montevideo; he does not explicitly state so)