Brazilian Portuguese/Lesson 1

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Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Let's take a look at the first thing we need to know: pronunciation. The first step in reading a language is to know first the alphabet used (and to your relief, Portuguese uses the Roman alphabet) and the way that those letters are pronounced. So let's look closer. Since I'm new to editing Wiki pages, I have no idea how to create a table with letter explanations. So until then, visit the following page for a guide on pronunciation:

Portuguese Online Textbook - Chapter One - the online textbook is still being constructed.

Little words you need to know[edit | edit source]

Nasal - a nasal vowel is a vowel produced in the nose. They're easy to spot.
  • A vowel followed by an 'm' or 'n'. (For instance: 'an' in 'Sandra')
  • A word ending in 'n' or 'm' (Example: viagem' is pronounced viazh-eng)
  • A vowel marked with a tilde (~). Example: 'ã'
How to produce a nasal sound: Hold your nose and try to say "fang". You'll notice that when you try to produce the 'ng' sound that air is trying to escape from your nose while at the same time your tongue is touching the roof of your mouth to produce the 'n' sound. The mistake many Portuguese learners make is that they pronounce the nasal 'n' sound with their tongue touching the roof of their mouth. Try to keep your tongue down. Now say "fang" again, this time do not pinch your nose. Instead, keep your tongue down and let the air escape from your nose. There, you've created a nasal sound. Do that every time you read aloud a word in Portuguese that ends in 'm' or 'n'.

The vowel 'u'in the English word 'lung' is a close approximation of the nasalized vowel 'ã' . It might be helpful to practice the words 'banana' and 'Copacabana', using the 'u' vowel (as pronounced in 'lung'. Buh nuh nuh).

English has a nasalized vowel in the word 'sing'. Pronounce the word 'sim' (yes) like you would begin 'sing', but do not close your lips on the 'm' of 'sim'. Try to say 'bem' without closing your lips on the 'm'.

You can practice pronouncing and hearing the difference between nasalized vowels and non-nasalized vowels by practicing minimal pairs: Ex. pau (wood) vs. pão (bread), mau (evil) vs. mão (hand)

The letter 'l' when in final position sounds like a 'u'.

Final 'o' sounds like 'u'.

The letter 'r' when in initial position is pronounced like an 'h' in English. So, the city Roma is pornounced like Home-uh in English. Minimal pairs to illustrate this are "moro no morro" (I live on the hill) "mawru nu mohu," and 'caro' (expensive) vs. 'carro' (car).

Trilled - Simply means that you pronounce the letter 'r' like the letter 'd'. (But ONLY when the 'r' is in the middle of a word). For example: "cara" is pronounced like "cada".