By Teacher Claudia
June 11, 2007

One of my dear pupils has asked me why we pronounce Denise” differently from “dinheiro”, that is the sounds “de” and “di”. I did my homework, looking for words with the “di” syllable, and not only did I find that his remark is true, but that it also happens with the “ti” syllable as well! It’s as if there were a “j” pronounced in words with “di” and “ti”. The closest example in English would be “Did you.?” If you join these two words, you may hear the sound my student has cleverly noticed.

Activity 1 – Introduction
Read some common sayings in Brazilian Portuguese.

1. Um dia da caa, o outro do caador.
2. Pelo dedo se conhece o gigante.
3. gua mole em pedra dura, tanto bate at que fura.
4. Dinheiro na mão vendaval.
5. A cavalo dado, não se olham os dentes.
6. Quem não tem cão, caa com gato.
7. Quem ri por ltimo, ri melhor.
8. Quem ama o feio, bonito lhe parece.

(Free translations of such sayings:
1. One day is the prey’s, the next the hunter’s.
2. By the finger one knows the giant.
3. Soft water on a hard rock, so much it breaks till it makes a hole.
4. Money in hand is a windstorm.
5. Don’t look a gifted horse on the mouth.
6. If you don’t have a dog, hunt with a cat.
7. Who laughs last, laughs best.
8. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

Activity 2 – Pronunciation
Repeat the following syllables and the examples of words with them, taken from the Activity 1.

/da/ dado
/de/ dedo
/di/ dia, dinheiro
/do/ entendedor
/du/ dura, dado

/ta/ basta
/t/ at
/ti/ ltimo, bate, gigante, dentes
/tu/ tanto, gato, bonito

Activity 3 – Explanation
You may be asking yourself, “Why are there so many terms in italics?” or “Is there something wrong? Some words aren’t in the proper place.” Well, dear reader, that’s because, although dado is written with a “do” in the end, it’s not spoken like that. It’s pronounced with a soft “du” ending; just like dedo. The same happens to the “te” and “to” syllables, they are pronounced with soft “ti” and “tu” sounds; bate, gigante, dentes, tanto, gato, bonito.

Activity 4 – Practice
Write words with these syllables and speak them out loud.

Da: ………………………………………..
De: ………………………………………..
Di: ………………………………………..
Do: ………………………………………..
Du: ………………………………………..

Ta: ………………………………………..
Te: ………………………………………..
Ti: ………………………………………..
To: ………………………………………..
Tu: ………………………………………..

Teacher Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at claudiafmla@uol.com.br

To read previous articles by Teacher Claudia click below:

Portuguese Tip: Diminutives
Portuguese Tip: Regularity of Verbs in Portuguese – Final Part
Portuguese Tip: Regularity of Verbs in Portuguese – Exceptions
Portuguese Tip: Regularity of Verbs
Brazil: A Day in São Paulo
Why Not? (Or on Brazilian Indians)
Portuguese Tip: Infinitives and Gerunds Part 1
Brazil: Portuguese Tip – Ningum X Nenhum
Brazil: Portuguese Tip – Tudo vs. Todo
Brazil’s Independence Day
Brazil: Portuguese Tips – Denials
Brazil: Portuguese Tips – Não and Nem
Portuguese Tip: If Clauses Part 1
Portuguese Tip: If Clauses Part 1
Portuguese Tip: The X Doubts Part 2
Portuguese Tip: The X Doubts
Brazil: To Tell or Not to Tell
Brazil: Ipiranga Museum
Portuguese Tip: Odd words
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
A Brazilian Holiday: October 12th
Portuguese Tip: Sounds
Portuguese Tip: Verb Tenses
Portuguese Tip: The Mystery of Seu, Sua
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 2
A Brazilian custom: Kissing the Cheek
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Past
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 1
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Present
Portuguese Tips
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply