Spanish Language/pronunciation query


Hi Brandee,

You'll be the third expert I've put this question to so far! I'm also told it's been moved to the question pool, whatever that is!

Basically, when Joan Baez sings 'Llego Con Tres Heridas' she pronounces the word amor as amosh or amorsh.

Can you explain this for me? Baez's father was Mexican so presumably she speaks Spanish pretty well if not fluently. This recording isn't the only example, there are other live recordings where she does the same thing.

I know amor is often pronounced with a very throaty rolled 'r' at the end but this is definitely a ssh sound.

Here's hoping you've some idea about it.


Hi Nigel,

Thanks for sharing the song with me!  What a great example of intertextuality between poets and singers in different time periods and nationalities.  I agree that the first time she sings "amor" it sounds like "amor-sh", although I don't really hear it the other times she sings it later in the song.

I think it is just an example of an allophone of the single "r", which usually at the end of a word only gets one flap in Spanish, but is often changed or exaggerated, especially when appearing in a song or other kind of creative setting.

If you look up "amorrr", which you mentioned, you see lot of people playing with this exaggerated pronunciation by spelling it that way, but, interestingly enough, you can also find plenty of people playing at spelling it "amorsh", too.  

Here is a linguist who describes this phenomenon: "En el caso de los alófonos fricativos de /ɾ/, su estigmatización es tal que en pocos años se han convertido en fuertes estereotipos sociolingüísticos. El empleo lúdico o burlón de éstos es tan común en la actualidad que se produce también en la lengua escrita, mediante los grafemas ⟨rsh⟩ y ⟨rs⟩."

A translation, if you need it, is "In the case of the fricative allophones of /ɾ/, they are so stigmatized that in just a few short years they have turned into strong sociolinguistic stereotypes.  The joking or playful use of them is so common that they currently are also produced in written language, with the graphemes ⟨rsh⟩ and ⟨rs⟩."  The examples in writing he gives are: a dormirsh, con mi amorsh, nada que versh

Does this help ease your mind at all about why she might have pronounced it that way?  It's just a bit of sociolinguistic variation, I would say, especially since "r" is a sound that often has allophonic variation in Spanish.  



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Brandee Strickland


I can answer questions about the Spanish language itself, as I studied Spanish academically and also spent a significant amount of time living in Chile (as a teacher of English). I can also help with issues of translation, and with interpreting slang or other cultural anecdotes. As an experienced teacher, of both EFL and Spanish, I can answer questions as well about teaching, classroom practice, and the use of technology.


I am a native speaker of English but have studied Spanish since a young age, as well as living in Chile for 5 years. I learned Spanish as a student myself, and have also taught introductory and intermediate level Spanish courses both privately and at the University level. At the graduate level, I have studied linguistics and sociolinguistics, as well as focusing on language teaching and the use of technology in the classroom.

University of Calgary, Canada; Universidad de Concepcion, Chile

Strickland, B., & O'Brien, M. G. (2013). A Review of the Literature on Technology in Second and Foreign Language Learning. Calgary: University of Calgary. Strickland, B. (Summer 2012). Communities of practice in the language classroom: Theory and reality. ETAS Journal. Strickland, B. (2009). De Gardner a Bajtin: La comunicacion mediada por ordenador y su impacto en la clase de lenguas. University of Calgary (Canada), ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. MR54572. Strickland, B. (2009). El mito de Narciso en la poesía española de los Siglos de Oro. Espéculos: Revista de estudios literarios, 40.

I have an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Psychology from Bowdoin College in the U.S. I completed an M.A. in Spanish and Second Language Acquisition and a PhD dissertation in the same field, both at the University of Calgary in Canada and currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Concepción in Concepción, Chile.

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