Any hints on Portuguese pronunciation?
My first language was Spanish, but growing up in New York City, I started learning English at the age of 6. I have studied both languages formally though university level and am equally fluent in both languages. I speak English in daily life and Spanish when speaking to my mother and other relatives.
I can read a Portuguese text with little difficulty (often keeping a dictionary nearby). However I find myself using Spanish phonemes when reading Portuguese. I also get confused sometimes when the same or condescending word has a different gender in each language. I always thought Spanish had a special fondness for articles but it's nothing compared to Portuguese.
Anyway, my primary issue is pronunciation. Anyone have any ideas?
You have to listen to the pronunciation to understand it. I suggest watching TV shows and movies in Portuguese. There are also plenty of Youtube channels in Portuguese. One channel that I really like is Porta dos Fundos (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEWHPFNilsT0IfQfutVzsag) Most of their videos have subtitles in English and in Spanish (click on captions).
Thanks redarkblade. I just added several Brazilian movies to my Netflix list and watched one yesterday. I actually enjoy foreign films. It's a different experience focusing on the actual speech. I hadn't thought YouTube. I just subscribed to the one you suggested.
Some letters are pronounced strangely. "E" can be pronounced like "e" would be in Spanish, but sometimes it will be pronounced like "i". X is pronounced like "sh". T can sometimes be a "ch" sound, and if D is before i or e, it's pronounced like an English "j". R can sometimes be a throaty sound, like х in Russian, or other languages using the Cyrillic script.
Thanks PopTarTastic. "T" and "d" are the most difficult for me. "R" is easy because many Spanish speaking people pronounce it the same way, although it is not standard in Spanish and teachers always correct you, reminding you to roll the letter off the tip of your tongue.
Great suggestion, WalkieTalkies. I hadn't thought of music, I guess because, depending on the genre, sometimes it's hard to understand even in one's native tongue. I'll give it a try. Thank you.
One important thing that many people seem to miss:
Word final -Vm (where V is a vowel) is pronounced as Ṽ, as in, you don't say the m but nasalize the vowel. So you don't say sim but sĩ. Not doing this is one of the most common mistakes (along with completely ignoring nasalisation).
Also look at the accent marks, they can help a lot. Tonic syllables with a cîrcûmflêx are pronounced differently than ones with an ácúté (and the gràvè doesn't indicate anything about pronunciation).
Also, lh and nh are kinda important. nh is just ñ, and I think lh is = spanish ll but I'm not sure if that works for every accent. Ilha is pronounced (roughly) i-lya.
The r is kinda tricky. The rules for pronunciation are very similar to spanish though:
At the beginning of a word, or written as <rr> it has one pronunciation, otherwise another. The first pronunciation varies a lot across the countries, but you're probably safest going with the English h sound (carro = caho). The other is often what you'd call a "spanish r", just not trilled quite as strong, but there's variation here too. In the mato grosso region for example, I've heard people saying it like the r in English.
Coayuco, if you have trouble understanding Porta do Fundos, you could try watching novellas on the Globo website (or youtube) - every novella has characters who use slow and exaggerated pronunciation, so it could give you a good place to start.
Here are some tips I found very helpful when I first started studying:
There are 3 types of "e": open, closed, and what I will call 'weak' (not a standard term).
1) The closed e is often written as ê, and is similar to the Spanish e, except it is even more closed and tense (than the Mexican e, at least!) e.g. vez, pavê.
2) The open e is sometimes written é, and is sort of in between a closed e and an a. The mouth is more open! e.g. chapéu, pego
3) The 'weak' e is pronounced like a Spanish i. Often a unstressed e will turn into a weak e, depending on the speaker (my boyfriend is from Rio, and he says sometimes they turn into open e's there, too) e.g. pode, time
There are three types of o's, too! The closed (ô), the open (ó), and the 'weak' o.
1) The closed is very similar to the Spanish o. e.g. pôde, avô
2) The open is like the American sound "aw". E.g. avó, pode. Be careful not to accidentally say grandpa when you are talking about your grandmother!
3) The weak is like the Spanish u. e.g. gado, cabo
When a z or an s comes before a vowel (even if the vowel is at the beginning of the next word in a sentence!) you usually pronounce it like the English 'z'. For example, the s in the expression 'mais que nada' is a ssss (like a snake), but the s in the expression 'mais uma vez' is a buzzing z sound.
The best way is to talk with a Portuguese speaker, or listen to interviews and try no notice the different pronunciations. I do this every day to improve my English. Search for 'entrevistas' in youtube.