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The enigmatic Portuguese R (2013)

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  • 9 days ago

  • @olvy0
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The enigmatic Portuguese R (2013)


@pjmlp 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

Very interesting article, however from Portuguese point of view, it left out plenty of dialects, not only it is somehow diverse across the mainland and islands, the african versions are also not one per country rather it also varies per region and the local criolo influences.

However the author does acknowledge that his knowledge is focused on Brasil, so there is that.

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@diego_moita 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

Scottish people can pronounce the same sound!

When you say "Loch Ness" with a very thick Scottish accent, the "ch" in loch is quite close to it.

Also the sound is quite common in other languages: "roi" in French, "reisen" in German, ... Even some Spanish dialects like Galego have the same r. Only Castilian/normal Spanish doesn't have it.

OTOH, just ask a Brazilian to pronounce simply "the". The "th" phoneme is quite hard for Portuguese speakers.

Better yet, ask a native from Rio to pronounce any word with a mute "t" or "d". It's hilarious. "Brad Pit" becomes "brahdjee peetchee".

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@marcodiego 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

Portuguese is very rich in terms of phonemes compared to other western languages. Brazil is a very big country with many different accents, but when we talk about popular artists and TV, there are some which are popular in the whole country. This makes the people well aware of how people from different parts of the country speak and, naturally, people have developed a "common way to speak" that can sound "neutral" to most people.

I've heard people calling this way to speak "fala de apresentador da Globo": which means "Globo's presenter way of speech"; Globo is Brazil's most popular TV network and its presenters have a clear way to speak that sounds very neutral and free from accents from one region or another.

I lived in Rondônia during the 90's. It was a very recent state and, at the time, people from all over the country went to live there to make good use of the new opportunities offered by a recent new state. So, the people living there were mostly from other places and there was a mix of accents which made it basically accent-free.

All forms of pronouncing "r" are very easy to me. And, to help people understand what I say and because I lived among very different accents, I speak in a very "neutral" way. People have once said I have a "fala de apresentador da Globo". But this way of speech is not uncommon in most developed regions neither among people who have to talk to people of different parts of the country.

Result of this: Brazilians can speak most of the romance languages and even other less phoneme rich languages from Asia or Europe without much difficulty. We even make fun of hispanophonic latin-americans because they can't say "cair no poço não posso".

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@VeninVidiaVicii 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

As a Spanish speaker who has studied Portuguese, I love this.

My first time in Portugal was a mess — I couldn’t understand anything. There were a few words I kept hearing people say that got me really mixed up: “Morrer” (to die) sounds a lot like “Mujer” (woman) in Spanish, whereas “Morar” (to live) sounds a lot like “Morir” (to die).

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@asveikau 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

When the author is sampling R sounds of the world, two prominent omissions come to mind:

- American English uses the r flap for the letters t and d between vowels. I think I may have also heard Australians do this?

- I've heard Puerto Ricans when speaking Spanish do something close to what is described as a "Brazilian R". A /x/ type of sound where /r/ would be in other accents. Backed up here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rican_Spanish#Feature...

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@forinti 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

I'm a native Portuguese and Spanish speaker. The phonetics of Portuguese are much richer than Spanish, even though they are so similar in vocabulary. I think this is the reason you can speak Spanish so much faster (even if you are fluent in both).

But I think the most difficult r is the Spanish r in perro. I like the way Chileans kind of sneak a zh in there: perzho.

Personal anecdote: once my mother (who speaks Spanish first) asked for me to dry the table with a sponge: Pega uma esponja e seca. Now, Spanish only has one e, but in Portuguese "seca" with an open e is "to dry" - the verb - and with a closed e is the adjective "dry". So I handed her a sponge and was duly reprimanded.

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@lhorie 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

A discussion of Portuguese Rs wouldn't be complete without at least a mention of Jimmy Five[0] (aka Cebolinha), a character in the Monica's Gang cartoon.

> Due to dyslalia, Jimmy Five is incapable of pronouncing the letter "r", replacing it with the letter l, in the Portuguese version, or with the letter w, in the English version. When the letter is used at the end of a word, however, he pronounces it normally (as in "car" or "locker").

What is fascinating about this cartoon is how diverse it is. I'd be hard pressed to name any other publication where one of the main characters has a speech impairment (which is often used to make jokes and puns), and that has side characters with various other disabilities, notably Hummer (Humberto), who's mute, and more recently Luca, a wheelchair-bound yet physically active boy. The cartoon isn't afraid of running stories about touchy topics like disability challenges, nor of using these topics for lighthearted comical effects.

It also pretty much single-handedly exposed generations of Brazilians to Guarani indigenous culture (e.g. what Monica fan doesn't know what Tupã[1] is), and frequently publishes stories about ecology preservation and morality.

IMHO, it's one of the best examples of minority representation in mainstream media done right.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Five

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tup%C3%A3_(mythology)

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@kentosi 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

As an English speaker who learnt Portugal Portuguese (PT-PT), which has its own "r" pronunciations, imagine my surprise and confusion when I heard Brazilian Portuguese (BR-PT) for the first time :-)

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@imbnwa 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

You'd be surprised how much Brazillian Portuguese phonology you can learn from watching MMA where Brazilians have had a big impact since the outset.

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@samueloph 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

If you're interested in Portuguese in general, I suggest listening to Azorean Portuguese. It's so different it sounds like a different language to most Brazilians (and I assume to other nationalities as well),

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7efyRaaTUU

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@ORioN63 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

Link is dead.

As an anecdote, to kick off discussion, I, as a native European Portuguese speaker, that was born in France (moved to Portugal when I was 4), can _barely_ pronounce them correctly.

Not all R's have the same roll of the tongue. They're usually in the middle of the word. Hate those R's.

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@soneca 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

My name is Rodrigo and I work remotely for an american company with only American teammates. When I say my name I pronounce the way Americans would pronounce it to simplify communication, but it always feels a little phony. Like I am making up a nickname that’s actually not mine to a new group.

Not anything that bothers me, just a curiosity of global remote work and our R.

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@weinzierl 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

When I was in Brazil in the 90s someone asked me if I liked 'nuns and hoses'. Took me a while to figure out she meant Guns 'N Roses.

The Brazilian R is very variable as the article points out but often it is closer to an H than to an R and sometimes this is even true when Brazilians speak English;-)

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@ncmncm 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

These treatments always skip over the elephant in the room: "r" where there is none. E.g. Brit pronunciation "agender" for agenda, and most problematically "drawring".

It appears that appending "r" sounds was once a marker for "posh" status in England, and adopted by the middle class as an attempt at upward mobility. But they went overboard, and added Rs the posh wouldn't. Arguably, it was initially done in mockery, but the mocked missed the joke. I don't know any way to test that hypothesis.

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@wefarrell 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

I can never get over the way my Brazilian wife pronounces the currency.

Singular - hey-ow

Plural - hey-I.

They're spelled real and reals respectively.

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@pantuza 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

We pronounce 'r' in Portuguese as 'h' in english words. For example: the word 'mice' in Portuguese is 'rato' which we pronounce as if it was 'hato'. Similar to 'hat', 'hate' or 'hit'.

But never as the english word 'rat'. For us it sounds like 'rrrrrrrat', because the 'r' is too long in the pronunciation.

Summarizing: Portuguese don't use long 'r' phonemes when the word starts with 'r'. We usually pronounce as if the word starts with 'h' in english.

The long 'r' is used when 'r' or 'rr' appears in the middle of the words.

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@kubb 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

Just look up the pronunciation in a dictionary.

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@CrociDB 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

I, a native portuguese speaker, recently wrote about the German R pronunciation was one of the most complicated for me to grasp in this language. Even listening and identifying it is really hard for me. https://crocidb.com/post/on-the-german-r-pronunciation/

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@meepmorp 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

tl;dr - /r/ in Portuguese apparently has a wide variety of allophones

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@StephenSmith 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

I took some Spanish in school but my most notable experience attempting to learn (Brazilian) Portuguese as a native English speaker was hearing the difference between the names José and Roberto.

There's the quintessentially, native-English-speaking pronunciation of José with a hard J. With Spanish, the J is obviously silent, or extremely soft, but in Brazilian Portuguese (I can't speak for other forms), you pronounce it almost like someone reading the name for the first time in English, with the hard J.

And then you have the opposite with the name Roberto, in Spanish the R is hard and present (and easy for native-English-speakers), but in Portuguese, the R has that same soft J sound that Spanish speakers use on José.

It's fun how these (three) languages intertwine.

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@bradrn 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

This is an excellent article! However, I find the definition of phonemes very unsatisfying:

> Phonemes are not exactly the same thing as sounds, and they’re not exactly the same thing as letters. They are kind of like connecting categories that map letters to sounds … Phonemes are a way of saying, If you see a letter “r” is this situation, use Sound A for it. If you see “r” in this other situation, use a different Sound B for it. But Sound A and B are not fixed — they will vary depending on the specific dialect.

The problem is that this relies on letters, which is a problem because (a) many languages are unwritten, and (b) many other languages have weird irregular orthographies (e.g. English, French, Irish and Tibetan). Instead, in linguistics, the standard definition is that two sounds are different phonemes if they can be the only thing differentiating two words. For instance, in English, /p/ and /b/ are different phonemes, because we have pairs of words like pat and bat, which differ only in that one has /p/ and the other has /b/. By contrast, Mandarin has no such word pairs… but it does have the distinction between /p/ and /pʰ/ (where the latter has an extra puff of air, or ‘aspiration’), in words like /pa²/ ‘fall’ and /pʰa²/ ‘crawl’. But [p] and [pʰ] are not distinguished in English — we have a single phoneme /p/ which can be pronounced in either way, with no difference whatsoever.

(Of course, this definition can sometimes get difficult to apply. For instance, English has no minimal pairs between /h/ and /ŋ/ [the sound ending words like ‘sing’], because the one only occurs at the beginning of a syllable, and the other occurs only at the end. But by and large it works satisfactorily.)

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@rogerallen 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

LOL, I really expected to read an article about a variant of the statistics programming language R...

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@kortex 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

As a GAE native speaker quite comfortable with [ɹ] (inverted r), the voiced [post]alveolar approximant, I find this sound super fascinating. It's very rare in languages, suggesting it is very unusual phonetically, but it happens to be prominent in two of the most widely-spoken languages, so many speakers can pronounce it.

I've always found alveolar trills more aesthetically pleasing, but you casually drop them in English conversation and you get weird looks and questions.

Question for the peanut gallery: what the heck is the difference between the voiced alveolar approximant and the r-colored vowel, ɝ, (schwa plus hook)? They have different IPA so presumably they have distinct pronunciation, but I cannot hear a difference, nor can I feel a difference in my tongue placement when I say them.

Also, curse HN's lack of unicode support. ~~I think it's related to MySql's stupid utf8 is actually utf8mb3 thing~~. I think they rendered? I see it in my comment after posting, but they are blank squares in the text form.

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@jayroh 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

As a BR-born son of an American and a Brazilian, this post/article brings me all sorts of joy. To this day, the sound of people speaking in BR-PT out in public brings a smile to my face. (To be clear, I live in Boston so there is a pretty large Brazilian population here)

All languages have their own beauty but there's something special about Brazilian Portuguese - the flow, the "sing-song'y" nature of it, it's almost like a dance. Admittedly I am biased, but I've heard similar from people without the background.

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@pelasaco 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

"Take this with a grain of salt, because I am not as familiar with the European dialect."

Actually as expected in Portugal, they have many dialects too. There are four main Portuguese dialect groups, all mutually intelligible: Central, or Beira, Southern (Estremenho), including Lisbon, Alentejo, and Algarve, Insular, including the dialects of Madeira and the Azores. There is even an extinct one, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaeo-Portuguese. The Portuguese version of this wiki article has more information https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeu-portugu%C3%AAs

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@coliveira 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

The letter R in Portuguese can range from a strong sound to voiceless. It all depends on where the r appears in the word, the context in the phrase, and the dialect used.

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@paol 9 days

Replying to @olvy0 🎙

Just a heads up for non-portuguese speakers: brazilian portuguese and european portuguese can differ quite extremely in pronunciation. Then there's also african portuguese pronunciations, though to my ear those tend to be closer to the european.

The article is written from a brazilian standpoint, so keep that in mind when comparing with your own experiences of the language.

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