Gringoes > Portuguese Language > Portuguese Tip: Sounds Part 3 – Vowels
Portuguese Tip: Sounds Part 3 – Vowels
By Teacher Claudia
August 31, 2007

Dear reader, please read out loud the following words: vovó and vov. If you pronounced them correctly, there was a sound difference in their endings, as the first word means grandmother and the second grandfather. That means pronunciation alters content. I can sincerely say that all of my foreign students have a hard time learning vowels in Brazilian Portuguese. Breathe, dear reader, and remember we have two ears and just one mouth. If we listen carefully, we shall speak well.

Activity 1 – Text
Read the poem Sobre a ambião”, by Guilherme de Almeida, out loud, please.


de
Deus o fez.
Mas ele, em vez
de se conformar,
quis ser sol, quis ser mar,
e ser cu… ser tudo, enfim!
Mas nada pde! E foi assim
que se ps a chorar de furor…
Mas ah! Foi sobre a sua própria dor
que as lgrimas tristes rolaram. E o pó
molhado, ficou sendo lodo. E lodo só!”

(Only
from dust
God made him.
But he, instead of
accepting himself,
wanted to be sun, be sea,
and be sky. be all, at last!
But nothing could he (be)! And that was how
he began crying with rage.
But hey! It was upon his own pain
that sad tears rolled. And the dust
wet, mud became. And mud alone!)

Activity 2 – Form
In Brazilian Portuguese, vowels can be oral, nasal, and semi-vowels.

  • Oral are the vowels that pass through the mouth, divided in open and closed:
    Open: a, , ó (similar sounds in English: a as in armor, e as in meadow, o as in saw);
    Closed: i, , , u (similar sounds in English: i as in indian, e as in entry, o as in old, u as in do);
  • Nasal vowels pass through the nose:
    Am, em, im, om, um, an, en, in, on, un, ,
    Brazilian Portuguese is a very nasal language, and although there are words in English with the first ten syllables shown above, it’s really different;
  • Finally, the semi-vowels are the letters e, i, o and u.
    Pão, seu, me and pai are all examples of semi-vowels, sounds that either change or “lose” strength.

    Just for the record, the letter A is the only “true” vowel in Brazilian Portuguese, as it can never be a semi-vowel.

    Activity 3 – Pronunciation in context
    We will take a look at Activity 1, trying to find examples for all cases, ok?
  • The underlined parts are all open vowels: só, pó, mas, sol, mar, nada;
  • The italicized parts are closed vowels: Deus, fez, ele, vez, ser, pde, ps, dor;
  • The parts in bold print are nasal vowels: com(formar), enfim, (as)sim, sen(do);
  • At last, the following parts are semi-vowels: o, de, se, e, que, (so)bre, (tris)tes, (molha)do, (lo)do.

    Activity 4 – Practice
    Now, to finish our lesson, read out loud the song “Palavras De Um Futuro Bom”, by Jota Quest. Just like the poem of Activity 1, there’s a game with words, their position and meaning:

    Anda, enquanto o dia acorda a gente ama.
    T pronto pra te ouvir aqui na cama.
    Te espero, vamos rir de todo mundo
    Nesse quarto tão profundo.

    Para, repara tente ver a sua cara.
    Contemple esse momento coisa rara:
    Uma emoão assim só se compara
    A tudo que nós j passamos juntos.

    Preciso tanto aproveitar voc,
    Olhar teus olhos, beijar tua boca.
    Ouvir palavras de um futuro bom.

    Preciso tanto aproveitar voc,
    Olhar teus olhos, beijar tua boca.
    Dizer palavras de um futuro bom.

    Para, repara tente ver a sua cara.
    Contemple esse momento coisa rara:
    Uma emoão assim só se compara
    Nesse quarto em um segundo.

    Preciso tanto aproveitar voc,
    Beijar teus olhos, olhar tua boca.
    Dizer palavras de um futuro bom.


    See you next class!
    Teacher Cludia

    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: On God – Expressions with “Deus”
    Portuguese Tip: If Clauses Part 2
    Brazil: Third World Chaos
    Brazil&rsquot;s Catholic Parties in June
    Portuguese Tip: Sounds Part 2 – De & Di
    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&rsquot;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

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