Back when I first began learning Spanish, I remember hearing how the word “Mexico” was pronounced.
In Spanish, the x in Mexico is more like a h sound?
Or however you would describe it but, to me, it sounds like people are putting in an “h” into the word Mexico when they pronounce the name.
So does that mean that, in the Spanish language, the x is pronounced with a h like sound?
Is Xela actually Hela?
From what I remember, the x in Xela was pronounced more like a sh sound.
Some odd months ago when I was living by Metro Copilco, I remember inviting some random chick over to my place and she happened to live by a metro station in Mexico City known as Xola.
While I don’t remember how “Xola” was pronounced, I did find the pronunciation of the X to also be different in that word too.
While I’m sure there are other examples that slip my mind right now, you get the idea.
To me as an outsider, I always found the “x” to have a weird pronunciation in Spanish with it seemingly being a tiny bit different depending on the word it’s in.
Personally, I always wondered if some words with the x are pronounced different because the word itself comes from some indigenous language but I honestly don’t know.
Because you do have words in Spanish – like taxi or sexo – where the x is pronounced similarly to how it would be pronounced in the English language.
Take this song for example here where they clearly pronounce taxi as taxi.
El Taxi -- Pitbull
Or any reggaeton song where they say “sexo” as you would imagine it would be pronounced.
Vamos a Perrear -- Nicky Jam ft. Daddy Yankee
Having said though, not everyone in Latin America actually agrees on pronouncing taxi as you hear it above.
Or sexo as how would you imagine it to be pronounced.
Instead, there is a certain oddity in Latin America where you notice people of certain background pronouncing the x in words like that just a little bit differently.
The other day in a neighborhood of Mexico City known as Pedregal de Santo Domingo, I left my apartment to head north to Coyoacan Metro station for some Chinese food.
Unfortunately, the Chinese place was closed so I went back south but stopped at Copilco area as they have some Chinese food nearby that isn’t as good but worth eating.
With food in hand, I walked back to the metro station to get back to Metro CU.
After exiting Metro CU, I soon hear a bunch of people yelling “tatsi tatsi!”
Not “taxi” but “tatsi.”
Once you leave Metro CU, there’s this little market you’ll see but, if you keep walking past that, you’ll see all these taxi drivers trying to get your attention.
And, over the last month and a half, I eventually started noticing that they don’t pronounce the word “taxi” as I’ve heard it pronounced elsewhere.
“Tatsi” and not “taxi.”
But, while Mexicans here seem to fucking with the pronunciation of the x in taxi, they also seem to like inserting an imaginary x into other words.
“Quieres una Pixa?”
Have you ever eaten a pixa before?
You haven’t even heard of it?
Sure you have!
You just have no idea what I’m talking about.
Pixa is actually pizza.
Over a week ago, it was another thing I noticed about this area.
I thought about taking the metro to Copilco to grab a cheap Little Ceasers Pizza nearby but contemplated instead grabbing a pizza from one of those vendors near Metro CU.
However, as a side point, you’ll almost always have a better deal with Little Ceasers. It’s the same reason for why it’s not uncommon to see other Mexicans going one metro station up north to Copilco to grab a Little Ceasers pizza to bring back down here.
At any rate, I asked the dude how much for a slice of pizza to see what they go for.
And he said to me “quieres una pixa?”
I understood what he meant when he said “pixa” because I’ve heard a few other Mexicans insert an imaginary x into the word “pizza” before.
In fact, I’ve heard them insert a “x” sound into the word “pepsi” also.
Where pepsi sounds like pexi.
Though, to be fair, it could be that my hearing is off too sometimes.
Final Thoughts: Pronunciation Practices by Class
While I’ve never actually heard any Mexican pronounce “sexo” as “setso” like I have with taxi, I have heard other words pronounced like that also.
Like exito sounding like esito or excelente being etcelente.
And so while my theory on why the x in “Mexico” or “Xela” is because I believe it’s maybe due to different indigenous language pronunciation differences (though I have no idea if that’s true or not), I do believe that the different pronunciation practices for “x” in other words is due to something else entirely.
“Taxi” becoming “tatsi” or “pizza” becoming “pixa.”
Because, in my time living in Mexico, I’ve been all over the place from living in neighborhoods with a bad reputation to touristy neighborhoods with a lot more wealth.
Generally speaking, I’ve noticed that areas with a poorer background tend to have more people with a noticeable habit of pronouncing the letter “x” differently than how it’s pronounced in other neighborhoods.
If I go to Roma Norte and see someone selling pizza, I’d bet you that the person will probably pronounce the “pizza” and “pizza” and not “pixa.”
Taxis remain taxis and don’t become tatsis.
So, in short, I believe it’s simply a difference in how people from different socioeconomic classes pronounce certain words.
We could take it beyond the example of the “x” and look at other pronunciation practices that are different.
For example, when you hear someone pronounce “haya” and “haiga” or putting in an imaginary ‘s” at the end of certain words like “fuistes.”
Which is ultimately the biggest point anyhow – that you’ll notice different pronunciation rules beyond just how “x” is pronounced depending on the class of the person and I'm sure you could find many more examples out there.
It's also a question -- to be fair -- if this happens a lot in other Latin countries. I don't remember noticing different pronunciation practices by class in other countries but I'm sure it does happen.
And, when talking about nationalities, you do have differences in pronunciation of words depending on nationality as a Dominican doesn’t speak the same as a Bolivian.
Where, depending on the nationality, perhaps the "s" is chopped off from the end of a word like how something that should be plural is pronounced without the s.
At any rate, that’s all I got to say.
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Thanks for reading.