Portuguese Vowels - according to Wikipedia

@Danielconcasco asked:

Does anyone have a good guide for open and closed vowels?

Part of the problem is that some sources, including Wikipedia) refer to vowel height: four levels from top [i u] to bottom [a]. (The International Phonetic Alphabet defines seven, but no language is known to distinguish all of them.)

Portuguese Vowels - according to Wikipedia


- Front Central Back
Close i ɨ^[1] u
Close-mid e - o
Open-mid ɛ ɐ ɔ
Open - a

[1] Only EP has [ɨ].

Reference: Wikipedia Portuguese phonology

Nine stressed oral vowels

Phoneme Pron. Orth. Note
/a/ /fɐˈlamuʃ/ falámos EP
/ɐ/ /fɐˈlɐmuʃ/ falamos EP
/a/ /ˈʁaʃi/ rache BP
/ɐ/ /ˈʁɐʃi/ rush BP
/e/ /ˈse/
/ɛ/ /ˈsɛ/
/ɨ/ /sɨ/ se EP
/i/ /ˈsi/ si
/o/ /ˈpos/ pôs BP
/o/ /ˈpoʃ/ pôs EP
/ɔ/ /ˈpɔs/ pós BP
/ɔ/ /ˈpɔʃ/ pós EP
/u/ /ˈtu/ tu

Portuguese uses vowel height to contrast stressed syllables with unstressed ones. Destressing phonemes /a ɛ e ɔ o/ tends to raise them to [ɐ e ɨ o u].

EP takes this one step further, raising all pairs (/a, ɐ/, /e, ɛ/, and /o, ɔ/) to [ɐ ɨ u], respectively, in all unstressed syllables. The vowels /ɐ/ and /ɨ/ are also more centralized than their BP counterparts.

In fast speech, the three unstressed EP vowels [ɐ ɨ u] are reduced and often voiceless or elided.

Five stressed nasal vowels

Phoneme Pron. Orth. Note
/ɐ̃/ /ˈɐ̃tɾu/ antro
/ẽ/ /ˈẽtɾu/ entro
/õ/ /ˈsõ/ som /õw̃/ in some dialects
/ĩ/ /ˈvĩ/ vim
/ũ/ /ˈmũdu/ mundo

Spellings of nasal vowels

Phoneme Spelling Example Meaning
/ɐ̃/ ã, am, an rã, canto frog, I sing
/ẽ/ em, en entro I enter
/ĩ/ im, in vim I came
/õ/ om, on sombra shadow
/ũ/ um, un mundo world

Nazalization occurs (1) at the end of words and (2) when the nasal consonant is in the coda position (end of syllable, e.g., entro, sombra, and mundo). The letter (m or no) disappears unless it is followed by a plosive, e.g., in cantar [kɜ̃nˈtaɾ] (to sing).

Six nasal diphthongs

Phoneme Pron. Orth. Note
/ɐ̃j̃/ /ˈmɐ̃j̃/ mãe
/ẽj̃/ /ˈbẽj̃/ bem in Grande Lisboa
[ɐ̃j̃] in Setúbal
/õj̃/ /ˈpõj̃/ põe
/ũj̃/ /ˈmũj̃tu/ muito
/ɐ̃w̃/ /ˈmɐ̃w̃/ mão
/õw̃/ /ˈbõw̃/ bom /õ/ in most vernacular dialects

To be continued...

August 22, 2019



August 22, 2019

Yep. Portuguese vowels are a lot more complicated than the five Spanish ones.

August 25, 2019

Just one small mistake: the diphthong [ɐ̃j̃] is just as widespread in Setúbal as in Grande Lisboa. [ẽj̃] is still very common in northern Portugal.

September 8, 2019
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