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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Portuguese.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Ana Clara
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Portuguese writing.
The Portuguese Alphabet
Portuguese uses the exact same alphabet as English, the ISO basic Latin alphabet, comprised of 26 letters.
a, b, c
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Let's listen to the names of the letters in Portuguese
a, b, c
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
The letters K, W, and Y were recently recognized as part of the official Portuguese alphabet. They are only used in personal names, foreign loanwords, and derivatives, including words from indigenous Brazilian languages.
The letter Y is read like the vowel I:
Yakisoba ; Shoyu ; Yanomâmi
Yakisoba ; soy sauce ; name of a native indigenous tribe
The letter W may vary. It may be read like the vowel U or like the consonant V. it usually follows the pronunciation of the language of origin.
Washington; Wagner; Wolkswagen
And the letter K is read just like in English;
Kart ; Yakisoba ; Kung Fu ; kantiano
Kart ; Yakisoba; Kung Fu ; Kantian
The Portuguese alphabet is phonetic, which means letters represent certain sounds alone and certain sounds when combined, just like most western languages.
Portuguese, like English, uses digraphs, which are pairs of letters representing a single sound, different from their components alone; but they're not included in the alphabet.
Ch ; lh ; nh ' rr ; ss ; qu ; gu
For instance: the letter C sounds like this
Or like this
When paired with H, forming the digraph Ch, we have the sound:
So, as you can see, while Portuguese is largely pronounced as it's written, some letter combinations will produce digraphs that you will need to look out for.
Accents and Diacritics
Diacritics are little marks that are added to letters to indicate some alteration on the quality of the original letter. It usually indicates a pronunciation aspect. While in English they appear more in names and loanwords, such as "fiancé," in Portuguese they are very common.
There are five diacritics with different uses in Portuguese. They can indicate stressed vowels and pronunciation aspects in consonants and vowels; they can also be used to differentiate some homographs or to mark grammar phenomena. Let's see what they are.
In Portuguese, the acute accent is used to indicate a stressed vowel in a word.
Fácil “Easy”
Árvore “Tree”
Alguém “Somebody / Someone / Anybody”
As you see, all the stressed vowels in these words are marked with the acute accent.
But the acute accent can also be used to mark the low height of a stressed vowel in cases that, solely by the location of a stressed syllable, the height of the vowel can't be determined. That means the vowels with acute accents, in this case, are open.
This word means "grandmother." If said with a close vowel...
It would mean "grandfather." And, with no accent at all,
The stressed vowel now is the first one. This word is used to express fractions.
So, if this word is not correctly marked, you don't know how to pronounce the last vowel properly. Specifically in this case, with an incorrect pronunciation, it would have a different meaning.
As we saw in the last example, circumflexes mark when vowels are high heighted, which means they are close vowels.
Circumflexes are also used to differentiate homographs. Homographs are words that are written in the same way, but with different meanings.
Vem ; Vêm “he/she/it comes ; they come”
Pode ; Pôde “He/she/it can ; he/she/it could”
As you see, this mark may or may not refer to the vowel sound in such cases.
The grave accent is related to a grammar phenomenon, the crasis. The crasis is a contraction of a feminine article with a preposition.
Fui a + a cidade
Verb preposition article object =
Fui à cidade
“I went to the city”
The grave accent in Portuguese is never a pronunciation mark, so it would never alter how a vowel, syllable, or word sound.
To indicate nasal vowels, the tilde is used.
Pão “Bread”
Note that although the nasal vowel marked with tilde is commonly stressed, the stressed quality is not part of what the tilde means. Like in this case:
Sótão “Attic”
The stressed vowel is marked by an acute accent, indicating also the open vowel pronunciation, even though the tilde is present.
The cedilha is the only diacritic used on consonants in Portuguese. More specifically, it is only used on the letter C, hence the Portuguese name
“Cê cedilha” Ç
C, when paired with vowels a, o, and u, sounds like the English K.
Casa ; Acordo ; Óculos
“House ; Agreement ; Glasses”
Whenever the cedilha is put before these vowels, it will sound like the English S.
Calçada ; Açougue ; Açúcar
“Sidewalk ; Butcher shop ; Sugar”
Pay attention to some rules. The letter C when paired with vowels i or e will always sound like the English S
Incerto ; Cinto
“Uncertain ; Belt”
So the cedilha will never be there in these cases, with i and e. Also, the cedilha is never the first letter in a word. The cedilha has been historically replaced by the letter S in those cases, so there's no capital “cê cedilha”
Saúde ; Suco
“Health ; Juice”
Great! Let's move on to the next section.
Capitalization rules in English and in Portuguese are mostly the same. For instance, the first letter in a sentence is always capitalized, just like people's names and nations. Seasons of the year are never capitalized in Portuguese, as they are in English.
Still, there are some significant differences between capitalization in English and in Portuguese. Let's focus on some of these.
Portuguese doesn't capitalize the pronoun
That is the equivalent to the pronoun “I” in English, which is always capitalized.
Claro, eu concordo.
“Sure, I agree.”
Nationalities and regional adjectives aren't capitalized in Portuguese. The same goes for a language name.
Ela é brasileira e fala português
“She is Brazilian and speaks Portuguese”
Days of the week and months are also never capitalized.
A reunião será nesta quarta-feira
“The meeting will be this Wednesday”
Normalmente saio de férias em julho
“Normally I go on vacation in July”
In titles of works such as books and movies, only the first letter is capitalized, unless there's a personal name in it.
Capitães da areia
“Captains of the Sands” by Jorge Amado
Memórias póstumas de Brás Cubas
“The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas” by Machado de Assis
These are some of the capitalization rules in Portuguese that differ from those in English. Most of the other rules are the same!
OK. Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that the Portuguese alphabet is identical to the one used in English, and also has digraphs. You learned that acute accents indicate both stressed and opened vowels; circumflexes indicate closed vowels; the grave accent always indicate crasis and is not a phonetical mark; the tilde is used to mark nasal vowels; and the cedilha give an “S” sound the the letter “C.”
Also, you learned the main differences in capitalization Portuguese has when compared to English.
In the next lesson, you'll be entering Portuguese boot camp, where you'll learn useful beginner phrases to get you speaking Portuguese right away!
See you in the next lesson. Bye!