Tá Falado

March 7, 2007

Lesson 20: Pronunciation of “lh”, Automatic Sprinklers

Filed under: Pronunciation — @ 9:28 am

The “mulher molhada trabalhava” is rendered in Spanish as “mujer mojada tabajaba.” That’s our basic rule: words spelled with “j” in Spanish are often spelled with “lh” in Portuguese. However, you’ve got to hear the podcast to find out how they are pronounced.

Culturally, Valdo and Michelle admire the number of automatic sprinklers that are found in residential areas in the United States.



  1. Que buena idea, ojala pudieran hablar sobre las palabras que se escriben con “f” en portugues pero con “h”, o sobre el preterito imperfeito que se escribe con “v” en portugues y con “b” en espanol la proxima vez!
    Felicidades, me encanta el podcast!

    Comment by Edo — March 10, 2007 @ 12:42 am

  2. Thanks, I really enjoy listening to these lessons. You guys have a lot of fun with these. I noticed some discussion on being obsessed with Brazilian culture… When I arrived at a party one time, a Brazilian I had me before said, “Hi again, you are a `Brazil lover`, right?”. I don’t think we would phrase it like that here, but I found it to be fairly accurate.

    I’ve heard my Brazilian friends say that the “lh” is commonly mispronounced by Americans. To get it right (close enough!), I remember trying to say an “l” and an “e” at the same time.

    Comment by Erik — March 10, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  3. Hola Edo,
    buena idea: hormiga -> formiga, hablar -> falar, hada -> fada, hacer -> fazer, hijo -> filho, horno -> forno, hotel -> fotel (just kidding!!!!).

    Comment by orkelm — March 10, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

  4. Hi Erik,
    True, I’m actually in Rio this very moment and among the things that I’m loving: Ipanema, sol, praia, suco de abacaxi, kibe, churrascaria, agua de coco, samba… etc. As to having fun with the lessons, I wish you could sit in on our preparation and writing sessions. That have been way too much fun.
    Até breve,

    Comment by orkelm — March 10, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  5. Hi all! This is the first time I post a comment but not the first time I listen to the podcast. As a native Spanish speaker it has been way too helpful (not to mention fun!) as a start to learn Portuguese. Like lots of people I know who have heard how Portuguese sounds like, I used to think it was easier! (I went for Italian and really got into it, then some French, but Portuguese was never an option). Now I see it can be really tricky, as to sounds specially.
    It was a challenge to pronounce the “lh” properly but I found out that it sounds really similar to the sound of “gl” in Italian, as in famiglia, taglio, figlio or just the article gli. Other advanced Italian learners may find it helpful too.

    Comment by Emmanuel — March 11, 2007 @ 2:59 am

  6. Emmanuel,
    You are totally correct. When I studied Italian it seemed that everything I know about Portuguese helped me more than everything I know about Spanish. The “gl” and “lh” is just one example.


    Comment by orkelm — March 11, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  7. Bom Dia!
    Eu gostaria escutar a Jose Luis falar em portuges e Valdo e Michele falar em espanol.
    Eu gosto muito da escutar as persoas falar em diferentes idiomas.

    Ok I will say it in Enshlish now, I think what i just wrote they call it portanhol (portuese and espanol) in Brasil ha, ha!

    I said: that I would like to listen to Jose Luis speak in portuguese and Valdo and Michele speak in spanish.
    I like to listen to people speak in different idioms.

    Ps. I know this isn’t part of the podcast but I am just curious to listen to the different accents. Especially, Jose Luis’ since I am a native Spanish speaker person I’d like to compare my accent to his.


    I love you guys and I can’t get enough of your poscast!

    Muito Obrigada!

    Comment by Melisinha — March 12, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  8. Olha lá Melisinha, o seu português está ficando excelente! Eu também adoro ouvir os sotaques (accents) das outras pessoas.

    Comment by orkelm — March 13, 2007 @ 6:24 am

  9. Another great lesson. Don’t change anything.

    My experience in foreign languages is that the earlier I use written language, the worse my accent. New sounds are a mystery and the predujice of letters gets in the way of training the tongue.

    The lesson on “lh” reminds me of what I think of as the peanut butter sounds – when the tongue gets stuck near the roof of the mouth for longer than it seems it should. I now recognize many of these as dipthongs and triphongs. Unless I focus on the subtle changes in vowels, it just seems like the sound is elongated.

    So, what a topic for a lesson… disappearing consonants that make this happen. How about the difference between Spanish “salida” and Portuguese “saída”. Not to mention losing ‘l’ in the articles lo/la/los/las. This lack of a consonant “pop” makes the sounds gluey for non-native speakers, at least for me.

    Many thanks to the entire crew!


    Comment by Don Dean — March 15, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  10. Oops, sorry for the dyslexic typing of “prejudice” in an earlier entry.

    Comment by Don Dean — March 15, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

  11. So true, a focus on spelling often gets in the way of our pronunciation. For example, Brazilians almost always pronounce “você” and “cê” and “para” as “pra”. Listening is the only way to go…

    Comment by orkelm — March 15, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

  12. Parabens,
    Thanks for the good information, here are some more resources about learning overseas that may be interesting you. We have a few Study Abroad Programs in Brazil and Europe, Asia, and South America

    Comment by frank — June 20, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  13. LH can have many pronunciations in Portuguese, the most common way is [l]+[j]
    (as two sounds, but not as one sound only like Italian gl;
    the one sound pronunciation sounds a bit ”dated”):

    ILHA sounds exactly like ÍLIA…
    FILHO exactly like FÍLIO…

    Júlio and julho are both pronounced like JÚLIO [‘Zuljw].

    [l]+[j] pronunciation can be simplified to a simple [l]:


    before open E /lh/ is normally reduced to simple /l/: Guilherme [gi’lehmI], mulher [mu’lEh]…


    in deminutives (-inho, -inha)

    FILHINHO sounds like it were spelled FILINHO, and VELINHA and VELHINHA are normally both pronounced like VELINHA.

    the Italian sound (gl) DOES occure as an allophone of L in some accents of Rio and Northest:

    feliz [fi’LiS] in popular Carioca accent

    the people from the city of Belém are famous for pronouncing every L as italian ”gl” 😉

    Comment by Milton — August 2, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

  14. Entao, sempre sempre quando a gente veja ‘lh’ se pronuncia como ‘li’ no espanhol, sem excepçao.

    Comment by Cynthia — November 7, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  15. “Gl” é igual a “lh.” Não consigo deixar de pensar na lingua italiana hoje. Rsrsrs.

    Comment by Lisa Martinez — November 8, 2007 @ 4:32 am

  16. Eu acho que “lh” soa mais como o “l y” de “will ya” que o “lli” de “million.”

    Mesmo que nos filmes a gente sempre se molha por os esguichos, eu nunca vi a alguem molhar assim sem querer.

    Comment by Kellsey — November 8, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  17. O “lh” é um dos meus sons favortitos portugueses. Odeio dos esguichos porque sempre parecem esquichar água na rua ou na calçada.

    Comment by dmonzingo — November 11, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  18. Acho que esta gravasão e muito engraçada. Novas palavras: galhos, espalhados, esguichos

    Comment by Leonel — November 15, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  19. Tambêm nesa converseçâo, pode ouvir (bem, posso eu ouvir) que os vocâes portugueses têm a tendéncia de ser mais fechadas. Depois do sonido ‘lh, a posiçâo de lengua faz a boca mais fechada. No espanhol, a aspiraçâo do sonido [x] faz a boca aberta.

    Comment by Chris Morley — November 16, 2007 @ 8:15 am

  20. Outra vez, eu nao posso perceber uma diferencia. E triste que os americanos perdem muito agua por varias coisas.

    Comment by ryanc — November 16, 2007 @ 8:20 am

  21. isso é a palatal-lateral?

    Comment by Ebony Jackson — October 23, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

  22. nao, acho agora que nao eh palatal-lateral. Talvez é algo alveo-palatal?

    Comment by Ebony Jackson — October 25, 2008 @ 1:08 am

  23. Tanto como o pronunciacao “nh,” o pronunciacao “lh” sempre e uma coisa dificial para mim. Vou melhorar agora tambem!

    Comment by Kyle — November 3, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  24. As vezes me parece que ‘lh’ soa como ‘l’. Isso é comúm? ou só ouvi mal?

    Comment by Elena — November 6, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  25. como se pronuncia lhe corretamente?

    Comment by lorenamartinez — November 7, 2008 @ 12:30 am

  26. conhecer-lhe?

    Comment by lorenamartinez — November 7, 2008 @ 12:31 am

  27. Eu acho que o barulho do “lh” é um dos mais dificeis da lingua portuguêsa.

    Comment by Liana Depew — November 9, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  28. This lesson was very helpful to me. Originally I thought that the ‘lh’ was like ‘ll’ in spanish and the ‘nh’ was like the [enye] in spanish. The case of nh is pretty similar — as you discuss in the previous lesson… but the ‘lh’ is totally different. it seems that there’s like a soft ‘l’ sound in front of what would be the ‘ll’ spanish sound. eye-opening (or should i say ‘ear’-opening?). thanks.

    Comment by Mary Slosar — June 29, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  29. When I was in elementary school , my Spanish teacher taught us to pronounce Spanish “ll” like Portuguese “lh.” However, I don’t remember hearing that sound in common Spanish conversation.

    Comment by Carlos Barrera — July 6, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  30. Thanks for the tips. The pronoun “lhe” has been one of the hardest words for me to pronounce.

    Comment by Kanitra Fletcher — July 10, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  31. @Carlos Barrera (comment #29): Yes, in Spanish the “correct” way of pronouncing “ll” (like in “gallo”) is similar to the “lh” sound in portuguese. The difference is the same as in “ñ” vs. “nh”: the portuguese sound is a little bit softer.
    However, The original “ll” sound in Spanish has been phasing out for a long time. So most speakers pronounce it just like the “y” sound (this trend is called “yeísmo”).

    However, some people still make the distinction. My mother for one, which is why I learned it, even if I don’t usually use it myself. There are still pockets of speakers who pronounce the “ll” sound not only here in Spain but also in a few parts of South America, as in some parts of Peru, because the sound also exists in Quechua.

    Comment by Francisco Tornay — October 23, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  32. Hi Francisco,
    You are totally correct, and I love it whenever I find Spanish speakers who pronounce the “ll” similar to the Portuguese “lh”. The phonetic symbol, btw, is [ʎ]. Every so often when I talk to people from Spain, I hear it. For example, go to my web page with the executive interviews and listen to Jordi Planas: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/laexec/spneg01.html

    Comment by orkelm — October 24, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  33. Quando estava na minha primeira aula de portugues, fez muito tempo ate posso pronunciar a palavra “lhe.” “Willya” ajudou muito, obrigada!

    Comment by Jennifer Cheek — April 3, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  34. Então, há outros jeitos de pronunciar os sons de “lh” e “nh” em diferentes regiões no Brasil? Eu ouvi a palavra “aparelho,” mas esta palavra serve para qualquer coisa que não tem nome espicífico? Ou foi usado só para mostrar o uso de “lh”?

    Comment by Benjamin Echelson — April 6, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

  35. O conselho de dizer “fi-lho” e não ”fi-li-o” ajudei muito

    Comment by Swetha Nulu — April 6, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

  36. ajudou**

    Comment by Swetha Nulu — April 6, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  37. Uma pergunta gramatical: Quando a Michelle fala que “esses aparelhos começam a esguichar água de repente e sem fazer barulho”, por que é que ela não usa o futuro do subjuntivo “sem fazerem”?

    Comment by Eric Solomon — April 6, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

  38. Eu geralmente não têm um problema com a pronúncia desta forma de “L” e “h”, mas em geral a forma LHE só vejo na literatura. Você pode pensar em qualquer momento, quando esta é utilizada na forma falada?

    Comment by John Alexandre — April 6, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

  39. Existem outras maneiras de dizer “recently” em português como un dia dessas, ultimamente, e recentemente. Qual e mais comum?

    Comment by Ilya Kuperman — April 6, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

  40. No brasil, a gente tem orgulho de ter gramados bem cuidados como aqui nos subúrbios, ou é que não é muito comum para os brasileiros cuidar os gramados deles; apenas os norteamericanos são tão vãs?

    Comment by Will Church — April 6, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

  41. Lh is the same as LL in Spanish and gl in italian, so I don’t know why you say it isn’t found in Spanish. Also in Portugal and probably some places in brazil too Nh is pronounced as in Ñ as in Spanish.

    Comment by Aharon — March 10, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  42. Thanks for the comments Aharon. For other readers, what Aharon is referring to is that in some dialects of Spanish, words like “ella” are pronounced just like the Portuguese “lh”. It’s a bit tricky because “ella” could be pronounced almost as a “y” as in Mexican Spanish “eya” or it could be pronounced as a “zh” as in Argentine Spanish “ezha” or it could be pronounced as the portuguese “lh”, similar to what Aharon is referring to. Personally, I heard this variety when speaking with some friends of mine who live in Barcelona.

    Comment by orkelm — March 11, 2013 @ 6:13 am

  43. Since this ‘l’ is pronounced ‘with the top dorsal portion of your tongue’, is this the same as the ‘dark L’ of English?
    (For those who don’t know, a difficulty for foreigners studying English is that it has 2 ‘L’ sounds: the ‘light L’ we usually think of, which is usually pronounced before vowels, and the more-unusual ‘dark L’, usually pronounced after vowels, in which the tongue arches upward at the back of the mouth. Pronounce ‘leave’ and ‘dull’ and see if you notice the arching of the tongue in the back of the mouth for ‘dull’.)
    (The IPA symbol for the ‘dark L’ is ɫ, meaning a ‘velarized lateral’, where the velar area is the back area of the mouth where /k/ and /g/ are pronounced and ‘lateral’ is a fancy name for an ‘L’ sound.)
    Also, in all the examples, it sounds like there is a ‘y’ glide after the ‘l’. [For more confusing IPA, the ‘y’ glide is /j/ ].
    So would we say the ‘lh’ sound in IPA would be [ ɫj ] (or maybe [ ʎj ] ) ?
    In case that sounds over-complicated, it actually helped me (assuming it’s correct…;-) ! Just use the ‘dark L’ sound of ‘dull’, and then add a ‘y’ sound.

    Comment by Mark — April 8, 2014 @ 6:07 pm

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Brazilpod  |  2022-12-09, 01:29:25 PM