Pronunciation Observations from PBS Latino Americans

I’ve been watching the PBS series Latino Americans and of course paid close attention to the Spanish language. So my main observations were:

Code Switched Pronunciation

The narrator generally spoke Standard U.S. English, but most Spanish words were given authentic Spanish pronunciations, much more than I’ve seen in other documentaries on Latin American subjects. I almost felt that the narrator was the Giada de Laurentiis (famous for her authentic Italian pronunciations of all things pasta) of Latin American documentaries. Many bilinguals alternate pronunciations, but this was especially consistent.

And who was this mystery narrator? None other than Benjamin Bratt who was raised by his Peruvian mother Eldy Bratt. He’s a great example of someone who has really mastered the phonology of two languages.

Dropping Final /s/

There was a clip of a traditional Spanish language song from the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, I believe) and by gosh, the singer was often dropping the final /s/ (or changing it to an /h/). Unfortunately, I am not having luck tracking it down now, but it’s rare to hear a dialectal feature captured with such good audio.

P.S. – This was very interesting and enlightening to me both as an Anglo and an East Coast resident. I had some notion of Latin American immigration in terms of the big East Coast cities like New York and Miami, but the history of Hispanics on the West Coast is very long, much longer than most people realize. Many past events are influencing immigration politics of today.

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