The first thing to comprehend here is that Mexican English is not the same as Spanish English. Although they share similar vocabulary and identical grammatical structures, they have some distinct differences. While the latter combines Spanish and English, Mexican English or Chicano English is a particular dialect rather than a learner language or an interlanguage.
For instance, you will notice that the Mexican Accent has an elevated, slightly nasal, and slightly drawn-out tone. Additionally, the Mexicans pronounce the stress on the second-to-last syllable in many words and have a highly distinctive melody.
Nasal Quality – Practice the Oral Posture
If you have ever heard a Mexican speak, you must have noticed that they change their face caricature when speaking. This is because the Mexican dialect has a unique oral posture. To mimic the accent, you must briefly bring down the corners of your mouth and focus on your jaw movement.
Since your mouth doesn’t open up much when speaking in a Mexican accent, some sounds would go through your nose, and you will notice nasality in your speech.
You can master the Mexican oral posture by practicing the sentence “I don’t want too much attention” or “My daughters are working two jobs this summer.”
Learn How to De-Voice Sounds
The ‘S’ Sound
Another prominent feature of the Mexican accent is that several sounds get de-voiced. For instance, you accentuate the ‘s’ sound in ‘daughters’ instead of converting it into a ‘z’ sound. Likewise, you enunciate the ‘s’ in ‘easy’ and ‘was’ instead of saying ‘eazy’ and ‘waz,’ like a Native English speaker.
The ‘Y’ Sound
You will notice the same case with the ‘y’ sound. With a few exceptions, the ‘y’ sound in the Mexican accent resembles the English alphabetic sound ‘j.’ You will almost hear a -dg sound in Mexican speech instead of the ‘y-sound.’
Consider the sentence: “It rained heavily yesterday afternoon.” If you were to say it in the Mexican Accent, you would say, “It rained heavily dj-esterday afternoon.” If you notice closely, we didn’t change the y-sound heavily because it lies at the end of the word. Likewise, “Did you know about the report” converts to “dj-a know about the report” in a Mexican-American English accent.
Practice the Distinct Tone and Rhythm
Chicano English also has a sophisticated set of nonstandard English enunciation patterns. You might notice a Mexican rising the pitch of words in the beginning and middle of some sentences while elongating the concerned syllables.
Moreover, you may notice rising glides occurring more than once in a single sentence.
Mexican English Consonant Pronunciation
The Mexican English Accent borrows consonant pronunciations from African-American English and Spanish.
The ‘-TH’ Sound
The ‘th’ sound is the most confusing for people learning a Mexican accent to pronounce. There are two major TH sounds in English: the soft TH in “there” or “though” and the harsh TH in “with” or “thought.”
Th-stopping is a common feature of Chicano English. Under this rule, you substitute the mild ‘-th’ sound with a prominent ‘d’, and the sharp ‘th’ sound converts to a faint ‘t’ sound. So, the word ‘these’ would convert to ‘dese,’ ‘there’ would change to ‘dere,’ and ‘thought’ would be pronounced as ‘dought.’ Alternatively, you can say ‘torough’ instead of ‘thorough’ You can practice this rule through these words:
When to Substitute ‘TH’ with ‘T-Sound’
When to Substitute ‘TH’ with ‘D-Sound’
So, if you were to say, “I thought all three of them were coming to lunch,” in a Mexican Accent, you would deliver the sentence as “I doubt all dree of dem were coming to lunch.”
Interchange Your ‘Bs’ and ‘Vs’
The Mexicans frequently interchange their ‘Bs’ and ‘Vs’ because of similar acoustics. Thus, you will hear a substantial Mexican population say ‘bideo’ instead of ‘video,’ ‘bolleyball’ instead of ‘volleyball,’ and ‘bery’ instead of ‘very.’
Pronounce Your ‘H’ as ‘HR’
The letter H is pronounced HR, which is the same sound you would make if a hair got stuck in your throat. Although this might sound unimportant, the modified ‘h-sound’ is a huge determinant of how well you speak in a Mexican Accent.
Omit the ‘G’ in Words Ending with ‘ING’
Spanish words do not end with ‘-ing’ or ‘-end.’ Thus, the Mexicans usually omit these gerunds and suffixes. So, when practicing a Mexican Accent, you would overlook the ‘g’ and only keep the ‘-in’ intact in the gerund ‘-ing.’ Likewise, you would omit the ‘-d’ from the ‘-end suffix.
Implementing this rule, you would say ‘lifteen’ instead of ‘lifting,’ ‘helpeen’ instead of ‘helping.’ Likewise, ‘weakened’ becomes ‘weaken,’ ‘recommend’ becomes ‘recommen,’ and ‘friend’ becomes ‘fren.’
The Mexican Take on Vowels
The most notable difference between English and Mexican English is the vowels. The five vowels in English produce 12 different sounds, while in Mexican English, there are only 5 vowel sounds.
Accentuate on the Vowel Sounds
There aren’t as many short vowels in Mexican accents as in English. So, while you can easily distinguish ‘fill’ from ‘feel’ in English, it would be difficult to grasp which is in Mexican Accent.
Likewise, ‘pitch’ sounds like ‘peach,’ and ‘rich’ sounds like ‘reach’ in the Mexican English Accent.
Elongate Your ‘O’ Sound
In English, you have several pronunciations for ‘o’ depending on the case, like in ‘to’ and ‘go.’ In the Mexican Accent, you also have two distinct ‘o’ pronunciations; ‘oo’ and ‘ah.’
You can master the distinct Mexican ‘o’ pronunciation by practicing the word ‘tool’ for the ‘oo’ sound and ‘tahxic’ for the ‘ah’ sound. Implementing this rule, you would say, “Geeve it too mee” instead of “Give it to me.” Likewise, if you were to say, “Give me the box,” you would deliver the sentence as “Geeve mee the bahx.”
Now that you know all the essential rules, it’s time to do some hands-on learning. Listen to some Native Mexicans, try to do conscious mimicry, and imitate how they move their mouth.