Ok so I always thought that California accents were the most neutral, most TV-personality anchorman laundry detergent commercial generic accents that you could get in America…or anywhere. We pronounce things pretty much as you read them and we don’t drop any letters or anything, right? Well, turns out that Californians, and Americans in general don’t really pronounce the letter “t” which can be really confusing for non-native speakers, even when the dropped t is part of a really short or simple word.
It either comes out as some kind of alveolar plosive (yeah Linguistics 1!) as in the word “letter” which we more accurately pronounce as “ledr,” or as nothing at all like in the word “twenty” which comes out more like “twuny.” Anyways, I never ever ever noticed this before Spain but sometimes it causes problems when I am speaking to beginners, like the dad of my host family, and I have to make sure to pronounce all the leTTers in everything thaT I say. They also tell me I sound like a rat when I am helping Bruno eat because I say “Eat! Eat! Eat!” but it comes out as “EEE-EEE-EEE!!!!!!”
So today I was playing with Bruno, and by playing I mean he was destroying a number of old family photo albums and I was sitting next to him saying “no no no!!!” The dad was sitting in the room at the computer. I finally got a little frustrated and said “Ok no more photos!” and took away the album, but I said it really fast because I wasn’t saying it with the intention of Bruno or his dad understanding. The dad turned to me and said “Wait what did you say?” in Spanish. I told him that I had said “No more phoTos,” being sure to pronounce the T. “Ohhhh,” he said, laughing. “I thought you said “No me jodas!”
No me jodas translates to something along the lines of “DON’T FUCK ME.*” Gotta make sure to pronounce those T’s!!!
*Ok it can also mean “don’t mess with me” or “you have to be kidding” but the literal definition is just waaaay better.