How to Pronounce Seville the Right Way

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An inside look at the thorny question: just how are you supposed to pronounce the word Seville?

Seville or Sevilla?

Straight up? In English, it’s Seville, as in Suh-VILLE. In Spanish, it’s suh-BEE-ya! But let’s delve a little deeper than that, shall we?

It’s a little awkward to ask. But how do you pronounce Seville? Because when you hear the locals say it, it sounds as though they’re saying an altogether different word.

Streetscape in Seville, Spain
Sound like a Seville local with our guide on how best to pronounce the city’s pesky name…

Setting the Scene

As the capital of Andalusia, Seville captures so many iconic parts of Spain: vibrant flamenco performances, stunning Moorish architecture, and mouthwatering tapas.

It’s an obvious place to want to visit (check out how to incorporate into a wider southern Spain itinerary here) and, as it’s one of Spain’s largest cities, one you’ll need to talk about often.

But how exactly do you pronounce “Seville”? Is it “Suh-vill” or “Say-veel”? Well, fret not, as we’re here to demystify the pronunciation of Seville in both English and Spanish, and help you understand the differences between the two.

How to Pronounce Seville in English

Let’s start with the English pronunciation of “Seville.” Many English speakers tend to say “Suh-vill” or “See-vill,” but the correct English pronunciation is actually quite close to the Spanish way. To say it correctly, follow these steps:

  1. Begin with the “S” sound, just as you would in words like “sun” or “silent.”
  2. Next, pronounce the “ay” sound, similar to the way you’d say the letter “A.”
  3. Finally, finish with the “veel” part, which rhymes with “heel” or “feel.”

So, in English, Seville is pronounced like “Seh-vayl.” Don’t forget that the stress should fall on the second syllable, making it sound a bit more musical.

How to Pronounce Seville in Spanish

Now, let’s dive into the authentic Spanish pronunciation. In Spanish, Seville is called “Sevilla.” Here’s how to say it correctly:

  1. Start with the “Se” part, which sounds like “Say,” as in “say cheese.”
  2. Move on to the “vi” part, pronouncing the “v” like a soft “b” sound and the “i” like the English “ee.”
  3. Finish with the “lla” part, where the “ll” is pronounced as a soft “y” sound, similar to the “y” in “yellow.”

When said fluently, “Sevilla” flows smoothly off the tongue, with the emphasis on the second syllable: “Seh-vee-yah.”

Espacio Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain
The Espacio Metropol Parasol in Seville – or ‘Mushroom’ as it’s known locally

The Difference Between English and Spanish Pronunciation

Now that we’ve covered both English and Spanish pronunciations, let’s highlight the key differences:

  1. Vowel Sounds: In English, we use an “ay” sound, whereas in Spanish, the “e” and “i” are pronounced distinctly. This gives the Spanish version its characteristic melodic quality.
  2. The “LL” Sound: The Spanish language has a unique “ll” sound, which is akin to the soft “y” sound in English. This sound is absent in the English pronunciation.
  3. Stress Placement: In English, the stress is often placed on the first syllable (Suh-vill), while in Spanish, it falls on the second syllable (Seh-vee-yah). This difference in stress placement is one of the key distinctions between the two languages.

In conclusion, whether you’re saying “Seville” in English or “Sevilla” in Spanish, it’s always good to know how to pronounce it correctly. Getting the pronunciation right not only demonstrates respect for the local culture and language but also adds a touch of authenticity to your conversations about this beautiful city.

And it stops you feeling like such a chump.

So, whether you’re planning a trip to Seville or just want to impress your Spanish-speaking friends, remember these pronunciation tips, and you’ll be saying “Sevilla” like a pro.

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