Brazilian Portuguese accent

Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by EllenJ, Sep 14, 2013.

  1. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    Hello, forum members!

    I have a question about the accent I am hearing on a CD accompanying The Everything Brazilian Portuguese Practice Book by Fernanda Ferreira.

    I immediately notice two differences between the pronunciation in the Ferreira materials and the pronunciation in my Pimsleur audio lessons. (Pimsleur says it uses the São Paulo dialect, by the way.)

    The two differences so far:

    1. The Ferreira CD recordings have an "sh" sound for the "s"; Pimsleur doesn't.
    2. In infinitives on the Ferreira audio, I don't hear the "r" at the end, so that "falar" sounds (to me at least) like "fala," "trabalhar" sounds like "trabalha," etc. In contrast, I can hear the "r" in infinitives in the Pimsleur audio.

    I'm wondering whether anyone has any reactions to these differences and whether you would recommend I favor one over the other.

    Muito obrigada!
  2. AlexSantos Member

    Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Greetings, Ellen!

    1. This 'sh' sound (commonly called "s chiado" by brazilians) is a feature present in the dialects spoken across the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo, and is one of the (relatively few) traits these dialects share in common with European Portuguese. The letter S is pronounced as an sh sound when it comes at the end of a syllable such as in "casas" or "mesmo" which are pronounced "cazash" and "meshmu". Sometimes the speaker may unconsciously voice this sound making it similar to the "s" sound found in the english word "vision".

    2. The omission of the final "r" in infinitives is a common trait found in many Brazilian accents, particularly in informal speech. The final "r" sound may still be pronounced, however, if it's followed by a vowel sound. In this case, we tend to pronounce the "r" like the Europeans, with a rapid tongue flap.

    I don't have any problems with any of these differences, but I would suggest not ommiting the final "r" in formal situations because otherwise people may not take you seriously. The omission of the final "r" should be reserved for plain casual speech only. Apart from that, both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo dialects are widely understood across Brazil, just pick the one you feel more comfortable with.
  3. fre0009 Senior Member

    English - UK
    From my experience, the accents in Brazil vary quite a lot from region to region. From the information that you have provided, I would guess that the speaker who pronounces 's' as 'sh' and leaves off the 'r' may very probably be from Rio de Janeiro. At least, those two features are present in the Carioca accent. The 'r' is actually there but it is very light or breathed (aspirado), so often you cannot really hear it. The 's' on the end of words also sounds like 'sh': for example 'mais' sounds like 'maish' more or less.

    I have less experience with the São Paulo accent, however I think that their 'r's at the end or words sound like how Americans say their 'r's. For example, the -ar in 'falar' my sound like an American pronunciation of the English word 'jar'.

    Anyway, this is all based on my own personal observations. Maybe someone with more knowledge on the subject can be of help. I think that both accents are equally nice sounding, so choose the one you like and go with it.

  4. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    Thank you, Alex (that is your first name?).

    I really appreciate this thorough response. It is very hard for most native English speakers to pronounce s as sh. And it is hard for me personally to omit my r's. I think I will therefore leave all my letters as they are. :)

    Now that you point it out, the "sh" DOES sound like what I heard on a CD for a European Portuguese book.

  5. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    fre0009, thank you!

    Your observations match up very well with my experiences to date with these materials. On the r-less verbs in the Ferreira audio recordings, I was thinking that if I were Brazilian, I might be able to perceive a slight bit of an ending that I cannot currently find as an inhabitant of this NYC world of much more conspicuous r's. So yes, there might be a slight brush of an r on those infinitives to which I am not yet attuned...

    I also hear the r endings on the infinitives in Pimsleur roughly as you said. In the neighborhood of jar-like. I have been noticing I have an inclination to do more rolling of the r endings (Italian-style, maybe) than is actually present in the audio lessons, and I am trying to cut back!

  6. Thunderstriker

    Thunderstriker New Member

    Fortaleza, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Hello. I believe the main question of this topic has already been answered, but I'd like to add a few details.

    First, you do have the idea that some audio books might have different dialects on them, as the ones you have (Ferreira and Pimsleur). In the future you might be able to differentiate dialects on your own, but I'll show you a little bit more.
    Here you have a map of the regions of Brazil and their respective dialects.


    • Green is Norte (North); blue is Nordeste (North-east); pink is Centro-Oeste (Midwest); yellow is Sudeste (South-east) and red is Sul (South.)

    The ones you heard from Ferreira are of the Fluminense dialect and for Pimsleur, I believe it is the Sulista. I am from the North-east region (Ceará) and we have our own dialect, jokingly called "cearês" by other regions. Each state has its own dialects and some areas of different states also have their own. For example: São Paulo (capital) has more of the Sulista dialect, but in the interior of the state, people tend to speak somewhere near the Mineiro dialect. There, you'll hear people "pulling the R", saying it like Northern American people speak the R in the end of words, but with more emphasis. Of course, they have their differences and some of these informations might not be true, as they are in my point of view.

    I hope this is understandable. Also, boa sorte com seus estudos! :)
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  7. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    Muito obrigada, Thunderstriker.

    Love the map. I will study it. It is interesting to read your discussion of dialects and sub-dialects within one country. I feel as though in general Brazilians seem to be a lot more aware of Portuguese dialects than Americans are of English dialects. I wonder whether that's true or whether I'm just hanging out with linguistically aware Brazilians.

    Although I am very involved with English professionally, I certainly couldn't offer you anything that coherent for the U.S.!
  8. Nino83 Senior Member

    Hi EllenJ.
    My book (Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar, A Practical Guide) says that:
    "Syllable-final s is pronounced as [ʃ] in some parts of Brazil, especially Rio de Janeiro. This pronunciation was once considered the desirable standard, but is nowadays felt to be a regional phenomenon."

    As far as I know the final "r" (when the following word doesn't begin with a vowel) is pronunced [h].
    I listen to a lot of Brazilian music and rarely I heard a final alveolar trilled r in that case.
    A final trilled r may sound very regional.
  9. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    I just went into the next room and got my heavily marked up Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar and found that quote on page 13. I read that page 14 months ago when I was totally new to Portuguese, and I am just now returning to the language after a year away from it.

    Thank you so much, Nino83!
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  10. AlexSantos Member

    Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
    Portuguese - Brazil
    In Brazil the final "r" in infinitives may be pronounced in a number of different ways. From my own personal experience I can assure you that the possible pronunciations of this sound may vary greatly among speakers even within the same region. I, for instance, pronounce it as [h] as in the first sound in the English word "house", but I've seen people from Rio pronouncing either as [χ] or [x] (voiceless sounds that, as far as I know, are not found in English). If you go to São Paulo you may come across people who pronounce it as a very american-sounding [ɹ] (I believe this is the sound fre0009 spoke of when referring to the similarity between the '-ar' ending in São Paulo accent and the american pronunciation of the word "jar").

    It is, however, fairly common practice in most accents to entirely drop the final 'r' in casual speech, especially when one is speaking faster than usual, in which case the listener won't be able to hear even the faintest [h], [χ], [x] or [ɹ] sounds. It is also not unheard of for people to omit it even when the following word begins with a vowel sound.
  11. Nino83 Senior Member

    Yes Alex, I agree with you (in another recent thread I mentioned [χ] or [x] but because these sounds are similar to each other I didn't make this distinction here).
    About the final [ɹ] I read that, for example, Rede Globo and other television channels prefer not to use it.
    Is it true?
  12. AlexSantos Member

    Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Yes, it's true. This pronunciation is considered non-standard by many Brazilians since it's often associated with São Paulo's lower class or its neighbouring rural areas (even though it's used by many highly educated citizens as well). People who employ this accent are particularly prone to experiencing discrimination in other regions. Therefore, you'll hardly hear this accent on our TV channels unless it comes from heavily stereotyped rural workers or dumb blondes.
  13. LedaBK Member

    Brazilian Portuguese
    Just a note about different Brazilian accents. I'm astonished to see them called "dialects," as they are perfectly understandable. But it is true each region has specific vocabularies. For instance, "tangerine" is "mexerica" in São Paulo, "tangerina" in Rio, and "bergamota" in Porto Alegre. I was also reminded of the first Brazilian movie with... captions, a recently launched movie from Ceará (in the Northeast). More info here: I didn't see the movie yet, but I would bet it has captions because of regional vocabulary, not because of accent.
    I have issues with the map Thunderstriker suggested. You cannot talk about a "sulista" accent and include São Paulo in it. As someone already observed, the city of São Paulo has a particular accent that's very close to Italian, due to massive Italian immigration to the city: Paulistanos don't make plurals, for instance, because Italian does not have plurals in "s" (Italian plurals are in "i" for masculin, and "e" for feminin). Thus a Paulistano might say "as casa" in casual speech. And the countryside of the state of São Paulo has the same accent as the south of the state of Minas Gerais, where they have the "mineiro" accent, as the map calls it.
    As for the a "sulista" accent, I believe there are at least three different accents: the "gaúcho" (state of Rio Grande do Sul), the "catarinense" (state of Santa Catarina), and the "paranaense" (state of Paraná). I'm sure there are differences within those states too (capital vs countryside or specific cities in the interior of the state), but São Paulo has definitely NOT the "sulista" accent! The map also identifies a "baiano" accent for the state of Bahia, and then puts all other Northeastern states under the general "northeastern" accent... Not true. We southerners may not hear the difference, but someone from Piauí can clearly tell an accent from Pernambuco or Paraíba! Many, many different accents in the Northeast, including the 'baiano".
  14. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    Leda, your comment about the use of "dialects" caught my attention. I definitely think of the various versions of American English in terms of regional differences rather than dialects. The oft-cited fact that people in one part of the U.S. call soda "pop" does not register as a meaningful difference to me. It's all the same thing, basically. I guess the term "dialect" remains amorphous for me; it seems to be used differently for different languages, too.

    I teach corporate writing classes to people who often work in international environments. They say how radically different British and American English are, but even the British-American differences don't register much for me. It all seems like parts of the same body, though of course I know that technically there is much to distinguish them. I am curious to know whether British English and American English register as radically different Englishes to non-native speakers. Though I guess I should relocate this question to another part of the board...

    I also found interesting the bit about Italian immigration. I am studying Italian and Portuguese simultaneously, and a lot of my time is being spent shoring up the differences between the two languages in my brain and keeping them safe from each other's incursions. I keep adding s's to Italian words after I've been studying Portuguese for a while. Too bad the problems aren't happening in the other direction, because I guess my s-less nouns would be okay in São Paulo but I will definitely not be fine in Italy adding s's all over the place.
  15. Thunderstriker

    Thunderstriker New Member

    Fortaleza, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    That's some information that even I didn't know. And it is true, I am from the northeast and there's clearly different dialects or accents, as you may call it. That's why I've added this information about the states' own dialects:

    I may have simplified too much on the context, but I meant exactly what you said. The accents of Pernambuco and Paraíba, near the coast area, are considered the same accent, called Recifence.

    I have found another map that shows the dialects in a better way, I believe.


    • 1 - Caipira - different from Mineiro, because of some terms and discarding of the term "sô";
    • 2 - Cearense - from the coast of Maranhão to Rio Grande do Norte;
    • 3 - Baiano - the one mentioned before;
    • 4 - Fluminense - Rio de Janeiro (state) and Espírito Santo;
    • 5 - Gaúcho - Rio Grande do Sul;
    • 6 - Mineiro - Very close to the Caipira, but with a different entonage and combining words together;
    • 7 - Nordestino - Not like Baiano or Cearense, its own accents are a little bit more to the Caipira;
    • 8 - Nortista - Amazonas and Pará;
    • 9 - Paulistano - São Paulo (city) and the state's coast, e.g. Santos;
    • 10 - Sertanejo - Goiás, Mato Grosso and Tocantins;
    • 11 - Sulista - Paraná and Santa Catarina (except Florianópolis);
    • 12 - Florianopolitano - obviously, Florianópolis;
    • 13 - Carioca - Rio de Janeiro (city);
    • 14 - Brasiliense - Brasília, a combination of multiple dialects from around the country, as the city was finished in 1960;
    • 15 - Serra amazônica - Rondônia, Pará and Tocantins;
    • 16 - Recifense - Recife (Pernambuco) and Paraíba.

    I'm sorry that this post might have become too big. ;)
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  16. EllenJ New Member

    English - U.S.
    This is cool! Thank you, Thunderstriker.
  17. Alandria Senior Member

    Brasil - São Paulo
    ES is not INCLUDED.
  18. Alandria Senior Member

    Brasil - São Paulo
    ES is not INCLUDED.

    We pronounce the S sound like mineiros, paulistas and southerners...
  19. LedaBK Member

    Brazilian Portuguese
    Oh boy. I'd love to have a Brazilian linguist amongst us... The Paulistano accent, in my view, is something you don't find anywhere else in the state of São Paulo. Santos and the coast in general were mentioned as having that accent. I can assure you they don't. Santistas sometimes do the same "s" as Cariocas, and along the coast you find many communities of fishermen, mostly descended from Native Brazilians or Black slaves, who do NOT have a Paulistano accent, trust me.
    The same goes for what has been called here as the Mineiro accent, which is typical from Southern Minas and very close to the São Paulo countryside accent - I don't believe there's a relevant difference between SP and South MG in that matter, even "sô" is used around here too... But the accent in Northern Minas is another kettle of fish, much closer to what we in the South call the Northeastern accent. I also doubt the so-called Baiano accent is present in the whole state of Bahia. Baianos themselves use the term "Bahia" to refer only to the capital, Salvador, and I believe there are differences between the Salvador accent and the accent in the rest of the state.
    Also, I can't see how a "Serra Amazônica" would go from Rondônia to Pará without touching Acre or Amazonas - besides, I don't see a "serra" on the map in that region, on the contrary, high mountains in the Amazon Region are mostly up North, close to the border, such as in Roraima.
    But the matter of the fact is that we are all guessing. True, educated guesses, but still guesses. My horse for a linguist! :)
  20. AlexSantos Member

    Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
    Portuguese - Brazil
    My apologies for having posted such unreliable information. To my certain knowledge, this phenomenon is not unique to RJ and I thought ES shared this trait as well due the close proximity of both states. Unfortunately, I didn't bother checking any reliable sources to verify the accuracy of my statement.
  21. Alandria Senior Member

    Brasil - São Paulo
    Ya, this phonomenon occurs in Florianópolis, Santos, Belém, Recife and Salvador.
    You, Cariocas and Northeasters tends to pronounce S sound like /h/ too...

    2000 /doh'miw/ , /'mehmu/... :rolleyes:

    So funny, it doesn't occur in my dialect. Our dialect is very similar to mineiro (but we don't cut the final syllabes like they do).

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