Monday, March 20, 2017

PRONOUNCING THE LETTER "S" IN PORTUGUESE (BRAZILIAN AND EUROPEAN)


Image (S) by Karyn Christner (CC BY 2.0)
Do you feel confused by the rules for the pronunciation of the letter "S" in Portuguese? And do you feel even more confused by the accent differences? Don't worry! This article can help you a litle bit...


I know a very "chique" person, her name is Mayumi. She is Japanese and she has an intermediate level in Portuguese. I think Mayumi is very "chique" because she is wine expert and she already worked in many regions of Portugal and Brasil. She already visited Porto, Lisbon, Algarve, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre and other cities.

The other day, Mayumi talked to me and she said that she will never understand the correct pronunciation of the letter "S" in Portuguese. Because she feels like each place has a different pronunciation for this letter. If you feel like Mayumi, let's learn a little more about "S" pronounciation.


NOTE 1:
Remember that the letter "S" may appear at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a word. At the beginning of the word we must to write only "S" (e.g. "sal"). At the end of the word we must to write "S" (e.g. "lápis"). Between two vowels, if we want "Z" sound we must to write only "S" (e.g. "casa"), but if we want the "S" sound we must to write "SS" (e.g. "assassino");

NOTA 2:
In this article I will use the symbols of Alfabeto Fonético Internacional.



"S" in the beginning of the word...

In all regions of Brazil and almost all regions of Portugal, the letter"S" the the sound [s] when it is at the beginning of the word (NOTE: in the north of Portugal, the letter "S" has the sound [s̺] when is in the beginning of the word, that is a litle bit different). Here are some comparisons for this sound:

- the same as "S" of the English word "saturday";
- the same as "S" of the Spanish word "sabiduría";
- the same as "S" of the French word "sacré";
- the same as "S" of the Italian word "sala";

Example: SILÊNCIO
Male voice of Portugal:
Male voice of Brazil:


"SS" - that indicates "S" sound between vowels...

When you could see before, "SS" only appears between two vowels. And it always has the same sound as "S" in the beggining of rhe word. To illustrate, follow some comparisons of this sound:

- the same as "S" of the English word "sausage";
- the same as "S" of the Spanish word "beso";
- the same as "Ç" of the French word "leçon";
- the same as "SS" of the Italian word "rosso";

Example: SESSÃO
Male voice of Portugal:
Male voice of Brazil:


"S" when indicates "Z" sound between two vowels...

Bwtween two vowels, the letter "S" (single S) has the sound [z] (in the North of Portugal, the sound is [z̺]). Follow some comparisons for this sound:

- the same as "Z" of the English word "zebra";
- the same as "Z" of the French word "zéro";
- the same as "Z" of the Italian word "zucchero";

Example: USUÁRIO
Female voice of Portugal:
Female voice of Brazil:

It is interesting to note that, when the "S" is at the end of the word and the next word starts with a vowel, this "S" will have "Z" sound.

Example: OLHOS AZUIS
Female voice of Brazil:


"S" at the end of the word or at the end of the syllable...

In this situation, you will find many variations. The main ones are:

1) The majority of regions in Portugal, the region of Rio de Janeiro, many regions in North and North-East of Brazil.

In these regions, when "S" is in the end of the syllable (or the end of the word) and the next letter is a 'deaf consonant' (p, t, qu, f, s, ch and x), the "S" sound will be [ʃ] — that is like "CH" sound in the Portuguese word "CHÁ". Some similar cases are:

- similar to "SH" of the English word "harsh;
- the same as "CH" of the French word "chaud";
- the same as "SC" of the Italian word "prosciutto";

Example: PASTEL DE NATA
Masculina de Portugal:

Exemplo: DOIS
Male voice of Portugal:
Male voice of Rio de Janeiro region in Brazil:

Still in these regions, when the letter "S" is on the end of the syllable (or the word) and the next letter is a 'sound consonant' (b, d, g, j, l, lh, m, n, nh, r, v, z), the sound of the letter "S" will be [Ʒ] — that is similar to "J" sound in the Portuguese word "JÁ". See some comparisons:

- similar to "J" of the English word "joy;
- the same as "J" of the French word "jolie";
- similar to "G" of the Italian word "gente";

Example: MESMO
Male voice of Portugal:
Female voice of Brasil (Rio de Janeiro):

2) in the South and South-East of Brasil and in many regions in Center

In these regions the "S" when is on final syllable (or at the end of the word) has the same value as the beggining of the word. I.e, the sound will be [s] for all words. Follow some similar cases:

- the same as "SS" of the English word "grass";
- similar to "Z" of the Spanish word "lápiz";
- similar to S" of the first word in the French expression "mes amis";
- the same as "S" of the Italian word "versus";

Example: PASTEL DE NATA
Male voice of São Paulo region - Brazil:

Example: DOIS
Female voice of São Paulo region - Brazil:

Example: MESMO
Female voice of São Paulo region - Brazil:



So, I think Mayumi is right. Well, at least in some parts... There is some variation according to the region where you are. But this variation is not so big as she thinkgs. If you have some experience about this theme, don't forget to send us your comment.





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