If you didn't know a word of Spanish, but you knew how to pronounce it, the following would instantly make sense to you:
De chiquitos, nos metíamos en esa barra, y ¡guau! ¡Ese órgano!
As kids, we would get into that bar, and wow! That organ!
Captions 37-38, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1Play Caption
En esa tienda de música, en la vitrina había un piano, un piano de cola. Guau... Una cosa extraordinaria.
At that music store, in the window there was piano, a grand piano. Wow... An extraordinary thing.
Captions 59-61, Carli Muñoz - Niñez - Part 1Play Caption
Listen to our interview with musician Carli Muñoz and you'll hear him wowed. Yes, he says: "¡Guau!" (pronounced as the English "Wow") twice in our four-minute segment. The spelling of "guau" is good to keep in mind when pronouncing other Spanish words that start with "Gua...." Two famous ones are geographic locations: the oft-sung Guantanamera (click here for a popular performance) and the infamous Guantánamo. If you're like many North Americans you may pronounce the latter "Gwan-TAN-a-mo," with the initial "G" audible (or you may just use the nickname "Gitmo"). But if you listen to native Spanish speakers, that initial "G" is so soft it all but disappears and the "W" sound is much clearer.
¡Guau! -Y éste ahora mismo está en dos kilos.
Wow! -And this one right now is at two kilograms.
Caption 96, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: CoatísPlay Caption
Before we move on, here are two more lines to decipher based on your knowledge of Spanish pronunciation:
¡Ja ja ja!
Stumped? The first was an events-listing website in Buenos Aires, which makes sense when you remember that "V" often sounds like "B" throughout the Spanish-speaking world and "Z" sounds like "S" in Latin America.
The second line is laughing, pronounced "Ha ha ha!," but with a more guttural "H" than we typically use in English. Remember, in Spanish, "H" is always silent, while "J" sounds closest to the "ch" of Scotland, Wales or Germany (as in Achtung, baby.) But a good memory aid is that "J"s approximate the "H" of English, and so "je je" sounds like "heh heh" and "ji ji" sounds like "hee hee."