Spanish is one of the easiest languages to pronounce. The basic rules are incredibly simple, but people still manage to totally mangle it. These offenders fall into two pretentious camps.
The first, I call The Dan Rather Effect. This is where you pronounce a foreign word as if you were from that country, but you actually speak English. Dan Rather used to do this so much that I suspect his favorite thing was to say Nicaragua. Another example of this would be if I were to say, “My parents are from España.” I would never do this because I don’t like intentionally sounding like an asshole.
The second group is comprised of the d-bags who think they’re really smart but prove otherwise by doing shit like call Luis Buñuel “Louie” because they clearly don’t know that Spanish and French are different languages and that Luis [Loo-ees] is not the same as Louis [Loo-ee]. I hate these people the most since the first group is merely exaggerating actual language competence whereas the latter are just totally misinformed ignorant assclowns.
THE BASIC RULES OF SPANISH PRONUNCIATION
1. Every letter must be pronounced. Exception: the letter “h” is always silent. FUN FACT: The letter “w” doesn’t exist in Spanish. All “w” words come from Anglo-Saxon like “whiskey.”
2. If a word has an accent that’s to indicate — a. that the accented syllable receives the stress EXAMPLE: Almodóvar could be pronounced ALmodovar, alMOdovar, almoDOvar or almodoVAR. The presence of the accent tells us that almoDOvar is correct ***OR*** b. that it is a homophone (pronounced the same but with different grammatical function) which is not important here
3. The stress in most Spanish words (accented ones excepted) fall on the second-to-last or last syllable. Try a word out both ways if you aren’t sure.
And those are the essentials. Of course, there are way more rules (and tons and tons of exceptions), but for the most basic things like pronouncing a Hispanic person’s name right, this is enough to make you sound like you made an effort, but aren’t some kind of jackass.
I’m including a blurb I pulled from Spanish “Vanity Fair” about Terence Malick since it has lots of good words with which to practice. No more excuses!