open/closed vowel sounds

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grumpus

Senior Member
English U.S.
Oi grupo,
as I have recently started practising my Portuguese again I have come across a pronunication question.
My 201 Portguese verbs book says there is a difference in the pronunciation of the "e" in the "radical changing verbs" such as
atravesso
atravessamos

I understand that the "e" in "atravessamos" should not be stressed. Is that what they are referring to???

ciao,
Grumpus
 
  • grumpus said:
    I understand that the "e" in "atravessamos" should not be stressed. Is that what they are referring to???
    Hey Grumpus. You're partly right. The "e" in "atravessamos" should not be stressed, but it also should be pronounced as a closed "e." Whenever the stress falls on the "e" it should be pronounced as an open "e." This happens for radical changing -ar verbs. For radical changing -er verbs, the vowel remains closed in the first person, but it is open in the third. For example, with the verb "correr" the "o" would be closed when conjugating it with "eu" and "nós" but it would be open in the other conjugations. This is according to my grammar book. I hope all of that made sense. :)

    Chris
     

    mrcoelho

    Member
    Brazil / Portuguese
    There are several rules about stress sillabes in portuguese that would be hard to go through here. Anyway, one simple rule you can have in mind is that if a sillabe that is not the last or the second last have to be stressed, there will be an accent sign indicating that.

    For example:

    - Atravesso - the stress is in "ve"
    - Atravessamos - the stress in in "sa"
    - Atravesssemos - since the stress is in the "sá", which is the 3rd last sillabe, there is an accent sign showing that

    Regarding the "e" closed or open, Chris is right, although this changes a lot depending on person's origin. For example, people from Brazilian North-east say the "e" in "atravessamos" open, while people from São Paulo say the same "e" closed.

    Certainly some of our friends will have a link to some grammar site where you can check all the rules for determining the stress sillabes.
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    Grumpus

    hehehehehe, You´re heading to a Northeast city and are going to discover in loco that most of our ê are proununced like an é, ménino.
    anyway, there´s another thread on the subject..... if I could find it!

    Here it is.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I don't agree very much with what you've quoted from the book, Grumpus. Atravessar is not a radical-changing verb in any sense of the word. What happens is that the last vowel in the radical (atravessar) is pronounced differently in different verb forms. But this has to do with stress, and it happens with all verbs, so I wouldn't call it a radical change. For example, here's the present tense indicative of this verb. I've marked the stressed syllable, and written the pronunciation of the e:

    atravesso (é)
    atravessas (é)
    atravessa (é)

    Here, the e is pronounced open (é), because it falls on the stressed syllable.

    atravessamos
    atravessais

    Here, the e is not pronounced open, because the stress moves to the next syllable. (Northeast accents notwithstanding. ;))

    The last verb form ends with -am, which is always an unstressed suffix. Therefore, the verb is stressed on the radical again, and the e is open:

    atravessam (é)
     

    grumpus

    Senior Member
    English U.S.
    Thanks, Chriszinho, mrcoelho,Vanda, Outsider
    falta Juca, nao??

    Wow! I read the thread Vanda sent. The pronunication scheme is more than a bit confusing. I guess, myself, I can hear the difference very easily between
    the closed and open "o" and even know how to use it (more or less).
    But I have never really paid much attention to the closed/open "e" distinction.
    I assume it is an important as the difference between the AE pronunciation
    of
    "bed" and "bade".
    But from the discussion, it seems to be unstable and vary regionally.

    So from Outsider's comments
    atravesso (é) e as in AE bed, not bade (excluding dipthong)

    Here, the e is pronounced open (é), because it falls on the stressed syllable.

    atravessamos e as in AE bade (excluding dipthong)

    is this correct? Or am I hopelessly confused.

    ciao,
    o Grumpus
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    grumpus said:
    But I have never really paid much attention to the closed/open "e" distinction.
    I assume it is an important as the difference between the AE pronunciation
    of
    "bed" and "bade".
    But from the discussion, it seems to be unstable and vary regionally.
    It varies regionally when the vowel is unstressed. Not so much if it is stressed.

    grumpus said:
    So from Outsider's comments
    atravesso (é) e as in AE bed, not bade (excluding dipthong) :tick:

    Here, the e is pronounced open (é), because it falls on the stressed syllable.

    atravessamos e as in AE bade (excluding dipthong) :tick:

    is this correct? Or am I hopelessly confused.
    That's right for Brazil, excepting the Northeast accent. In Portugal it's a different sound.

    P.S. O.K., let me try to explain this to you in a simple way, Grumpus. It's really not that complicated, but this thread may have confused you needlessly (starting with my replies). Here's the deal:
    • If the vowel e is on the stressed syllable of a regular verb form, then it's pronounced open (é)*;
    • An isolated, unstressed e is always pronounced closed (ê), except at the end of a word.
    At least, this is how most Brazilians say it. In some regions of Brazil, as well as in Portugal, the unstressed e may be pronounced in other ways.

    P.P.S. Oops! Another correction. :D

    * Exception: if the stressed vowel e comes before a nasal consonant, m or n, then it is closed (ê). E.g., comemos.

    I think this takes care of all the regular verbs. There are a few irregular verbs with a closed stressed e not followed by a nasal consonant, but those you have to memorize, anyway.

    Hope this helps. ;)
     

    grumpus

    Senior Member
    English U.S.
    Outsider said:
    It varies regionally when the vowel is unstressed. Not so much if it is stressed.

    That's right for Brazil, excepting the Northeast accent. In Portugal it's a different sound.

    P.S. O.K., let me try to explain this to you in a simple way, Grumpus. It's really not that complicated, but this thread may have confused you needlessly (starting with my replies). Here's the deal:
    • If the vowel e is on the stressed syllable of a regular verb form, then it's pronounced open (é)*;
    • An isolated, unstressed e is always pronounced closed (ê), except at the end of a word.
    At least, this is how most Brazilians say it. In some regions of Brazil, as well as in Portugal, the unstressed e may be pronounced in other ways.

    P.P.S. Oops! Another correction. :D

    * Exception: if the stressed vowel e comes before a nasal consonant, m or n, then it is closed (ê). E.g., comemos.

    I think this takes care of all the regular verbs. There are a few irregular verbs with a closed stressed e not followed by a nasal consonant, but those you have to memorize, anyway.

    Hope this helps. ;)
    Hi Outsider, thanks. Let's see if I understand this.

    comemos --- e --> sound in bade, paid, NOT bed, pet
    or
    tenho --- the same as above

    but

    At the end, unstressed e in Brazil is like ee in "bee" as I hear it. Portugal it's more like
    the "a" in about, that is, schwa (or barely at all).

    Escrevo --- first E --> bade, paid, second (stressed) e ---> bed, pet, NOT bade, paid
    That is, the "e' s are different.

    Is this correct??

    saludos,
    Grumpus
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    grumpus said:
    Let's see if I understand this.

    comemos --- e --> sound in bade, paid, NOT bed, pet :tick:
    or
    tenho --- the same as above :tick:

    but

    At the end, unstressed e in Brazil is like ee in "bee" as I hear it. :tick:
    Portugal it's more like
    the "a" in about, that is, schwa (or barely at all).
    It's a schwa-like vowel, although not exactly the schwa. There's probably no point in getting too technical. And, yes, sometimes it isn't pronounced at all.

    grumpus said:
    Escrevo --- first E --> bade, paid,
    Well, word-initial vowels are special. I'm not sure if Brazilians pronounce the first e in "escrever" as [ê], or , or perhaps both ways. I seem to recall it's (as in "bee", like you described it above).
    In Portugal, this e is usually silent (we say "shcrever").

    grumpus said:
    second (stressed) e ---> bed, pet, NOT bade, paid :cross:
    This is a special case. For pronunciation purposes, you should regard verbs with infinitives ending in e...er, like escrever, as irregular, or semi-regular. They follow the general pattern in all forms, except:

    - the present indicative, 1st. pers. sing. only: escrevo (ê)
    - the present subjunctive, all persons: escreva (ê), escrevas (ê), etc.

    The present subjunctive can be formed from the 1st. pers. sing. of the present indicative in most verbs, which is why changes that affect the former usually carry over to the latter.
     
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