Brazilian Challenge Day 89: Native Tongue

So I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m not going to be learning Portuguese on my own any time soon and I’ve arranged to have an instructor come to my apartment once a week to help me. (Going to yoga classes given in Portuguese is, surprising to me, not moving my skills along fast enough. So much for trying to kill two birds with one stone.) I also have the instructor spend time with my daughter. It has been interesting to learn what my daughter knows, and what she doesn’t know, in Portuguese. Yesterday we learned the parts of the body together. This is also a good idea so I don’t seriously injure myself in Portuguese yoga. (I have an awesome English speaking personal yoga instructor/friend I can refer you to if you are not as brave as I.  I am not brave every couple weeks.)

The instructor is great (if anyone also needs a Sao Paulo referral). Yesterday I asked that we focus on pronunciation because I realized that it didn’t matter how many nouns, pronouns and verbs I learned if no one can understand me anyway. (I realized this after trying to make a reservation at a restaurant and an appointment for a doctor and having both parties hang up on me.)

In my opinion, the pronunciation of the Brazilian portuguese language is the most difficult aspect of learning. Primarily because you don’t pronounce the letters the same – “i” sounds like “e” and sometimes “d” sounds like “g” and sometimes “r” sounds like “h” – it can really mess you up. But yesterday we sat and outlined these tricky rules.

And now I’m speaking Portuguese perfectly!

Ok, that’s not true. But I’m a few steps closer to speaking like a Brazilian.

This entry was posted in 366 day Brazilian Challenge, Expatriate Info & Advice, Foreigner Insights and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Brazilian Challenge Day 89: Native Tongue

  1. Andrew Francis says:

    Everyone says that “d” sounds like “g” in Brazil but it also sounds a lot like how Brits pronounce the “d” in words like “dune” or “dew”. The same goes for “t”: sounds like “ch” or the British “t” in “tune”.

    The “r” is tough and the confusion works both ways. Just check out how Brazilian radio DJs pronounce “Red Hot Chili Peppers”. 🙂

  2. Danielle says:

    Portuguese ‘s d-g change is really common in languages. It’s called spirantization. I saw your notes and maybe it’ll be easier for you to remembet that words written with “de” will be pronounced as “ji” only when the syllable is not stressed. so it doesn’t happen in “deles” because “de” is the stressed syllable, but it happens in “tarde” because the stressed syllable is “tar”, not “de”. It’s also important to remember that these are not separate sounds in Portuguese, just different versions of the same phoneme. So if you’re in doubt, you should make a d sound, not a g/j soubd, because that way peiple will still understand you. I hope that helps! You can email me if you have any pronunciation questions. 🙂

  3. I like the “I am home male sibling” version for “shoulder” that you’ve devised: “Hombro”.
    A few words on your list are mispelled; but they make sense when you consider that the goal of that specific exercise is for an English speaker to improve pronunciation, not spelling. The only change I would make is removing the “r” from “Cortovello”.
    Btw do you know what the “coruja” said when struck by a rock: “owl” (copyright TGP).

  4. Alex says:

    I think the weird pronunciations in Portuguese, I think, make it sound great! Love the way Portuguese sounds.

  5. We should team up somehow! We have the same goals!!!!

  6. Lucian says:

    Hi! I discovered your blog few weeks ago, and I’m going through it, reading your old posts. I’ve fun reading what you write, it’s funny to see a different stand point of Brazil by someone of outside.

    I don’t think so that Portuguse pronunciation is so hard. English is very worse. When I started learning English I called a lot of names because of English’s sound, I never knew when I had sound of “ai” or “i”. The TH was very, very hard to learn how to do it sound like an Amarican TH!!!!

    I do agree that spanish has a Pronunciation more regular than Portuguse.

    See u

    • Thanks for your comment! I did notice that the “th” sound doesn’t exist in Portuguese. My husband still pronounces it with a ‘”d” sound! Lucky for me, my 4-year-old daughter is now helping me with my Portuguese (aye, aye, aye).

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