The amount of Spanish in the US means that even the most monolingual Americans hear and see quite a bit of it. If you went to Mass at 9:00 in my little northeastern hometown, you heard it in Spanish. (No big deal worship-wise if you consider that a decade before I was going to Spanish Mass, everyone was hearing their Mass in Latin.) If you go for fast food, you might need to know what pico de gallo is. It's natural to me as an American to pronounce a double-L as a 'y' sound if I see a word that ends in a or o. One of the hardest things for me to learn in South Africa was to 'granadilla' as gran-a-dill-a even though I so wanted to say gran-a-deeya. (Never had to pronounce it in the US--we say passion fruit.)
Without this repetitive experience of Spanish spelling and pronunciation, the pronunciation of Spanish borrowings can be patchy in the UK. An ex-boyfriend's British father pronounced fajita as fadj-eye-ta (rather than fuh-hee-ta). Jalapeño tends to come out as ha-la-pee-no or even djae-la-pee-no, rather than the ha-la-pay-nyo or ha-la-pen-yo that Americans tend to say--since in the US they are likely to know what the ñ is for (or to have heard lots of people say it). And I've yet to hear an Englishperson say the edible salsa without the first syllable rhyming with gal. (I seem to recall hearing some BrE speakers use a more 'back' vowel in the dance salsa, but still use the more 'front' vowel in for the condiment.) At Dialect Blog there are other examples: paella and cojones. Maybe the food pronunciations will change soon. "Mexican street food" (which is considered to sound nicer than "Mexican fast food") is the big new-restaurant trend in Brighton these days; I counted three newish burrito places in a quarter-mile radius last week. But maybe this won't matter. No one seems very bothered about finding out the Thai pronounciations of any of the Thai dishes we've been scoffing/scarfing here for the past decade.
Of course AmE pronunciation of Spanish is not Spanish pronunciation. It's just a bit more Spanishy than BrE pronunciation, much of the time. One doesn't, for example, roll the 'r' in burrito in AmE.
The best example of unSpanish UK Spanish pronunciation, though, was pointed out to me by a New Yorker in the UK, who was amused by Brightonian pronunciations of the Spanish island Ibiza. The pronouncers in question were studiously lisping the 'z', but pronouncing the first syllable with a very un-Spanish 'eye' vowel. Britons are very studious about lisping esses in Spanish words.
Please add your examples in the comments. And Spanish speakers, I want to know: can you tell the difference between a British and an American accent when we attempt to speak Spanish?
Some other items business (read: self-promotion) before I go:
- I'm in the latest Numberphile video, talking about math vs maths (again!). Have/take a look!
- I'll be giving my 'How Americans Saved the English Language' talk at Tunbridge Wells Skeptics in the Pub on the 4th of July. Expect (verbal) fireworks! And cake!
- If you're on Twitter, I'm there, of course, giving a Difference of the Day five days a week and lots of links to Britishy-Americany-Englishy-language-y things. I also give a much smaller number of links via my Facebook page, so 'like' it if you'd like to get the occasional bit of news from me in your pages feed.