Romance languages: Ñ & Nh

ronanpoirier

Senior Member
Brazil - Portuguese
Do the Spanish Ñ and the Portuguese digraph NH have the same sound? I have listened to some Spanish and the Ñ sound sounds different to me. Am I right? Ñ sounds more like the N before I or unstressed final E in Brazilian Portuguese instead of NH, which sounds exactly to me like French and Italian digraph GN.
Thanks in advance everybody!
 
  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Good question. I've wondered about it myself. It has often seemed to me that the Spanish ñ is pronounced with a slight "y" at the end of it: niño = [niñyo]. The technical term is offglide. Wikipedia seems to mention this in its page on the palatal nasal consonant, but then again according to it the French and the Italian sounds have an offglide, too.
     

    Qcumber

    Senior Member
    UK English
    To me, Spanish ñ, Portuguese nh, French gn, French ni + vowel all sound the same [nj].

    I think these various spellings only reflect the etymology of the words in which they are used, and in the spelling code of each language.

    For instance French agneau "lamb" is pronounced [a'njo], but comes from Latin agnus in which it was probably pronounced ['ag nus]. Spanish baño ['ba njo] "bath" comes from Latin balneum ['bal neum]. Obviously the unstressed [e] evolved into and became the consonant [j] before another vowel, hence [nj] spelt ñ, etc.

    When Malay was written in Arabic characters according to a conventional system called Jawi "Javanese", the Arabic letter n with three dots below instead of a single one above was created to represent [nj]. The Dutch Latinized it as nj because J in Dutch stands for [j]. Nowadays, Indonesian uses the digraph ny instead.
     

    Brazilian dude

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    To me, Spanish ñ, Portuguese nh, French gn, French ni + vowel all sound the same [nj].
    To me too, the only thing is that the Italian gn is longer, at least in the standard language.

    Brazilian dude
     
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