Portuguese Tips: The eccentric "~"
By Prof LU
You have probably already noticed that in Portuguese some words include a strange symbol stylized as a "~" in the form of a hat which sits atop some vowels. It is called a "til". It has a similar appearance to Dalys mustache and it signifies the use of a nasal sound. Could it be any more eccentric?
Interestingly, although "til", ends with the letter "l" many Brazilians pronounce it with the sound of an "u", which makes the word sound very similar to "tio" (uncle). "Til" can be a real problem for gringos, especially those who come from Central Europe. Many languages dont have the nasal sound that the "til" provokes in vowels. The correct use of this nasal sound is absolutely crucial in speaking an understanding Portuguese.
Lets take a closer look today at the difference between "ÃO" and "AU".
OK to pronounce "ÃO" you need to start the sound of the consonant immediately before the "Ã", add the sound of "an", make it a little more nasal than usual and insert the "o" at the end. Simple! Try practicing on the examples below:
pão (bread), mão (hand), são (saint), televisão (television), canção (song),união (union), grão (grain), órfão (orphan), órgão (organ),sótão (attic), cristão (christian), cidadão (citizen), coração (hart), benção (bless), caixão (coffin), espião (spy), limão (lemon), mamão (papaya), melão (melon), questão (question), razão (reason), tubarão (shark), capitão (captain), cão (dog), etc.
OK we are going to look at "AU" now. To pronounce "AU" you use the sound of "a" (as in car) and the sound of "o" (as in boot). Importantly there is no nasal sound here. Try practicing on the examples below:
pau (stick), mau (bad), mingau (porridge), curau (corn cookie), bacalhau (cod), etc.
Please be especially careful in the case of "pão" e "pau". In the South of Brazil there have been many examples of gringos going to buy bread (at the Mercearias) and coming home with a bag of wood (from the Marcenarias). The mistake is due to a mispronunciation of "ÃO".
To read previous articles by Profª. LU click below
Learning Portuguese Words by Analogy - Part 1
Learning Portuguese Words by Analogy - Part 2
Brazilian Portuguese - Don`t Mix Your Words!
Different cultures = different behavior
Portuguese Tips: Health Part 1
Portuguese Tips: Health Part 2
Profª. LU is available for individual or group lessons, translations, interpretations , business support and special city guided tours in Sao Paulo and can be contacted by email at email@example.com