Tá Falado

November 9, 2006

Lesson 3:  Pronunciation of /é/ and /ê/, Public Health and Health Insurance

Filed under: Pronunciation — @ 3:26 pm

Welcome to one of the great challenges of Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation. Sometimes “e” sounds similar to the English sound in words like “get, met, set.” Other times Brazilian “e” sounds like the Spanish “e” in words like “bebe, vive, lleve.” Valdo and Michelle help us out.

Culturally, they also help us understand how different it is for Brazilians to have to worry about personal health insurance.

PODCAST LINK: Lesson 03

41 Comments »

  1. I appreciate that there is some cultural aspect to the topics you chose relating to the experiences of your speakers. Again, I like the pdf and that you compare and contrast Spanish with Portuguese.

    Comment by Erin Negron — January 29, 2007 @ 4:17 pm

  2. Erin,

    And this one is so interesting to me because I can just imagine the shock when Brazilians have to buy insurance and then on top of that still have to make co-payments, not to mention additional charges that are not included in the insurance.

    Comment by orkelm — January 29, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  3. How do we know when to make each sound? Are there any rules that we can memorize like if the e comes before or after another letter? What sound is the plain e?

    Comment by Lindsay Partridge — January 29, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

  4. Are these two pronunciations of e always written with an accent or that arrow thing? Is that the way to distinguish between the sounds when reading?

    Comment by Jesse Lasky — January 30, 2007 @ 12:17 am

  5. Lindsays asks one of the toughest questions. How do you know when to pronounce the open and closed “e”?
    There are no 100% rules, but there are tons of tendencies. The PDF notes that go with this lesson mention a few of them:
    As a general rule of thumb, the “open e” is only found in stressed syllables in Portuguese. Of course in actual pronunciation things are more complicated, but as a general rule, if the syllable is not stressed, the “e” will be closed. If the syllable is stressed, the “e” may be either open or closed. Here are a few tendencies to keep in mind:
    • Words written with a circumflex accent are closed: você, por quê
    • Words written with an acute accent are open: até, pé
    • Many words that have the diphthong “ie” in Spanish have an open pronunciation in Portuguese: quiero > quero, fiesta > festa
    • Nasal consonants that follow “e” produce a closed sound: pensa (despite SP “piensa”)

    Hope that gets you started,
    Orlando

    Comment by orkelm — January 30, 2007 @ 6:31 am

  6. Jesse,
    Another good question. The “accent or that arrow thing” is what we call an accute accent: é and a circumflex accent: ê.
    The answer to your question is unfortunately no. Not all words have accent marks in Portuguese. In fact, accent marks in Portuguese are only found on words that “break the rule.” by that I mean that the rule says that words should be stressed on the second to last syllable (COme, VIve, diliGENte). None of those words need accent marks. However words like “você”, and “está” are stressed on the last syllable (they break the rule you might say). So, they require accent marks. There is more to it that that of course, but basically if the word requires an accent mark, then Portuguese goes one step farther to give you an accent mark that also shows the pronunciation.

    Comment by orkelm — January 30, 2007 @ 6:38 am

  7. Hi!
    I know I discovered your great site late and I might be asking questions about very old content areas in your course, but, I was wondering, after reading your discussion here…: if we have accents to indicate the actual pronunciation of these open and closed mid vowels of Brazilian Portuguese whenever the stress of the word “breaks the rule”; and we can guess what the actual pronunciation of such a vowel by applying those few tendencies you have explained; then, and correct me if I’m wrong, the most problematic issue is learning when to produce one or the other whenever they are in the stressed syllable and they don’t “break the rules”, right? If I’m right, then, extensive exposure to authentic language would be the only way to acquire these sounds, I guess. Am I right? And is it the same with the back mid vowels too?
    Also, would you know of any source that would provide me with a good list of minimal pairs that deal with the mid vowels of Brazilian Portuguese? I am trying to learn more about this topic while I do some research on the Phonetics of Brazilian Portuguese, but I’m having a hard time finding good, complete, up-to-date sources about these mid vowel sounds.
    Thanks a million! Your site is great!

    Comment by Miriamd — March 4, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  8. Miriam,
    Hi,first of all sorry for the slow response, I’m travelling in Chile right now.
    OK, if there is an accent mark, it doesn show pronunciation: ^ indicates a closed vowel, ‘ indicates an open vowel. The idea is, if it needs an accent mark, you also get a hint on the pronunciation. The trick is how to say the words that don’t have written accent marks.
    As to a good resource, I like Perini’s book called Talking Brazilian, it comes from Yale University Press.
    Orlando

    Comment by orkelm — March 7, 2007 @ 6:20 am

  9. Esta liçao foi mais complicada. Comprendi melhor quando a gente usa é (aberta) ou ê (fechada) mais ainda nao fica muito claro quando “e” (sem acento grafico) pronuncia-se como é ou ê

    Comment by cynthiaz — September 13, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  10. Sei que não tem nada que ver com a lição, mais tenho que dizer que me encanta o foto que tem na parte de arriba da lição.

    Acho queo é muito importante saber a diferencia entre as pronuncações sa letra “e,” mas preciso practicar estos sons–como falante de espanhol e de inglés eu tenho as problemas de duas línguas na minha pronuncação.

    Comment by Kellsey K — September 13, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

  11. Gostei muito da ênfase entre o ditongo e o “monotongo”. Também, os exemplos de cada vocal em inglês fornecem um bom esclarecimento das diferenças.

    Comment by dmonzingo — September 13, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  12. Eu concordo com o que falou Orlando sobre “dei” e “dê” porque eu acho que é difícil poder diferenciar entre eles quando estou falando. Para mim é difícil porque normalmente quando eu falou não penso muito em trocar as diferentes pronunciaçãos de “e,” especialmente na palavras que terminam em “ei.”

    Comment by Elisa — September 13, 2007 @ 10:20 pm

  13. Antes desta lição eu não tinha prestado muita atenção a diferença entre as duas pronúncia do mesmo vocal. Sempre imitei os sons da pessoa que estava falando. Agora terei que prestar mais atenção a pronúncia dos “e”s como “ate” en meio das palavras, no somente quando aparecem no final.

    Comment by Amelia Crawford — September 13, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  14. Na aula do portuguese com o Mario, a gente practicou o nome do jogador de futebol brasieleiro mais famoso de novo e de novo.
    Eu, da Australia, tenho problemas com a sistema de seguro de medico aqui. Minha sistema de seguro de medico e so a esperanza.

    Comment by Chris Morley — September 14, 2007 @ 7:07 am

  15. Para falar o “e” aberto é só abrir um pouco mais a boca. É um pouco difícil fazer isso mas com a prática fica mais fácil.

    Comment by Lisa Martinez — September 14, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

  16. Eu sou falante nativa de español e encontro difícil ouvir diferença entre “e” aberta ou cerrada. Mas o que professor Kelm escrevou me ajudou. Ele diz: • Words written with a circumflex accent are closed: você, por quê
    • Words written with an acute accent are open: até, pé

    Comment by Tatiana Reinoza Perkins — July 1, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  17. Eu concordo com as outras quem acham que o problema maior é quando “e” (a letra) não tem um acento. Desejo que haja uma regla mais concreto, mas não é fácil aprender outras línguas.

    Comment by Matthew Johnson — July 3, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

  18. Tudo mundo no brasil pode usar médico livre, ou o gente rico não pode usar?

    Comment by Eduard Keller — September 4, 2008 @ 6:26 pm

  19. What I find myself doing most of the time when pronouncing either /é/ and /ê/ is using the “closed e” sounds for both. It’s difficult for me, a native Spanish speaker, to open the e and get the proper nasal sound for the a word.

    Comment by Kyle A. — September 6, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

  20. A letra “e” é complicada de um jeito ou de outro… e também depende muito mesmo do sotaque da pessoa

    Comment by Liana Depew — September 10, 2008 @ 11:15 am

  21. Eu acho que a “e” aberta não tem exatamente o mesmo sonido que a “e” em “get, met,” etc. porque quando eu intento fazer a “e” aberta brasileira, eu a formo mais no fondo (perta da garganta) na minha boca que “get” ou “met.” Verdade ou não?

    Comment by Shannon Zamora — September 11, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

  22. So I had a grammar question. A carioca friend of mine recently said “valeu é nós” to me. A friend told me that that was slang that showed incorrect grammar and should be valeu, somos nós.
    It made me thing of english how we say ” that IS me ” or “It IS me.” is that incorrect? swould it be “isso sou eu?” or isso eh mim?”

    Comment by Ebony Jackson — September 11, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

  23. Ha regras especiais com palavras com duas e’s. Como surpreende. Quanto tempo devemos extender pronucio do e? Também ha uma diferencia em como se pronuncia o primer e, e ou segundo?

    Comment by Lorena — September 11, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  24. Sem duvida a sistema de saúde do Brasil é muito melhor do que a sistema dos EEUU. É verdade que nos EEUU gente pode receber atenção médico sem pagar, mas podem morrer durante a espera.

    Comment by Elissa Wev — September 11, 2008 @ 11:40 pm

  25. Isso é bem difícil para os falantes nativos de inglês em minha opinião. Saber as regras e quando usar /ê/ ou /é/ quando o acento não está lá para ajudar é o mais difícil. Acho que, com tempo e prática, todo mundo pode aprender os sons, mas aprender quando usar esses sons sem ajuda dos acentos e enquanto falando rapidamente é dificílimo. Eu sei que tem regra para toda situação, toda palavra, mas não tem substituta para escutar o falante nativo dizer a mesma palavra, e a maioria do tempo, ele tem que repetir muitas vezes!

    Comment by Clyde Sheble — September 11, 2008 @ 11:54 pm

  26. This is a tricky concept–thanks for the explication. I think I will have to listen several times to feel comfortable with this!

    Comment by Franklin Strong — June 8, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  27. After listening to the file twice, it is easy for me to distinguish between closed and open e sounds if I hear them in isolation. It gets harder to do it hear it within the dialogue. Is there a difference between the sounds of “e” and “ê”?

    Carlos Barrera

    Comment by Carlos Barrera — June 14, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  28. Another awesome lesson! “E”s in the end of the words in Portuguese reminds me of the way that my Gallego friend spoke Spanish, with all final “e”s sounding like “i”s (and all “o”s sounding like “u”s). I did not realize then that phonetically Gallego draws on Portuguese so heavily.

    Comment by Marina Potoplyak — June 14, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  29. I am still having a difficult time noticing the different “e” sounds. When you and your colleagues are discussing the sounds and demonstrating them apart from from the dialogue, I feel like I get it. But when I listen to the dialogue (over and over!), I still have a very difficult time hearing it. It seems that there are actually 3 different sounds, no? there’s the spanish pronunciation, then this same sound more extended like what we hear in the english word “hay”, and then finally there’s the sound that we find in the english word “at”. I think my biggest difficulty is figuring out under what conditions we should use one sound over the other. Are there are any rules for recognizing this? Thanks!

    Comment by Mary Slosar — June 15, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  30. Hey Orlando, Great site!
    I have a quick question about open/closed Es in Portuguese (hope you’re still answering questions on this blog!). I noticed that the vowels in conjugated verbs are sometimes open and sometimes closed: for example, in the verb ‘conhecer’, Brazilians use the open vowel for the E in ‘conhece'(conhéce) but the closed vowel for ‘conheço’ (conhêço). Is there any rule for this? Valeu!

    Comment by Jus — July 25, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  31. Jus,
    There is a rule, but it’s a bit involved. Here’s the simplified version. First, remember that vowels can only be open with they syllable is stress.
    1. Regular AR verbs: lévo, léva, lêvamos, lévam – in other words in stressed syllable the é is open
    2. Regular ER/IR verbs: conhêço, conhéce, conhêcemos, conhécem – 1st person is closed, and the rest of the stressed syllables are open.
    That will get you started

    Comment by orkelm — July 25, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

  32. Tenho problema com ouvir a diferença as vezes. Fico confusa quando estou tentando de pronunciar um sonido aberto e um sonido fechado porque não lembro as vezes a diferença.

    Ela falou “pesar no bolso?” Eu gosto deste frase e não sabia que existia o equivalente em espanhol.

    Comment by Jennifer Cheek — February 2, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  33. Igualmente tenho o problema de ouvir a diferença na pronunciação fechado e aberta. Eu posso ouvi-la se falam lentamente, mas eu realmente não o ouço em conversações rápidas.

    Na sentença: “Até mesmo com seguro-saúde o preço é elevado.” o que é a finalidade de ter a palavra “Até” no início da sentença. Não quer dizer “until” em inglês? É uma daquelas palavras como “embora” que gostam de usa-os todo o tempo?

    Comment by Jorge Maldonado — February 2, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  34. Tenho problema com identificar a diferença entre “problema” pelos americanos e “problema” pelos brasileiros. Precisa dizer um inflexão no “e”?

    Comment by Swetha Nulu — February 3, 2010 @ 12:55 am

  35. Obrigado professor Kelm por ter este site muito útil essas lições realmente me ajudou a entender melhor o idioma Português.

    Comment by Matthew F. — February 1, 2011 @ 2:57 am

  36. This site has helped me so much learning Portuguese as a Spanish speaker..just like music helps learn so many expressions and new vocabulary.
    Is the song at the beginning of the lessons just intro music or an actual song? It sounds good, does anyone know the name? Tks

    Comment by Marcelle — May 23, 2012 @ 4:17 am

  37. Hi Marcelle,
    Thanks for finding our site, I really do like how it fits the audience, English speakers who know Spanish, who are now learning Portuguese. As to the music, you have a good ear. Sure enough, this music is the introduction of the famous song “Chiclete com banana”. Try looking up the version by Gilberto Gil.

    Comment by orkelm — May 23, 2012 @ 5:21 am

  38. Hi guys,

    I’m writing a guide for English-speaking gringos like myself who have learned Spanish and wanna learn Portuguese fast, so this is very helpful.

    However, is it not a generalization to say that in Spanish you always pronounce “e” as a closed syllable? I often hear native Spanish speakers say “la mesa” closer to “la mess-uh,” instead of “la may-suh.” Of course, as with anything in language there are a million exceptions and everyone speaks differently depending on dialect, so I’m not saying Tá Falado is incorrect, just that there is variation out there (and of course, I’m not a native Spanish speaker, so take my analysis of Spanish with a grain of salt :p ).

    Uma outra vez, obrigado pela informação neste site, é muito útil.

    -Nick

    Comment by Nick G — September 11, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  39. Hi Nick,
    You are correct that depending on the dialect, the Spanish vowel may sound a bit more open from one region to another. In Portuguese the difference between the open and closed pronunciation is actually phonemic, meaning that the difference in pronunciation actually changes the meaning of the word. This is not the case in Spanish. In Portuguese, for example, with an open vowel “ele pode” = He can, while with a closed vowel “ele pôde” = he could.
    Thanks for your “grain of salt.”

    Orlando

    Comment by orkelm — September 11, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  40. Thanks for the work you’ve done to put this on-line!
    Would the phonetic symbols you use in this lesson have these IPA correspondences?
    /é/ ⇒/e/
    /ê/⇒/ɛ/
    Want to make sure I’m matching up the correct sounds 😉 Are there other phonetic symbols you use that differ from IPA? Thanks!

    Comment by Mark — March 30, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

  41. Hi Mark,
    Yes, that is the IPA for those. You may also see ‘ó’ for /ɔ/ and ‘ô’ for /o/

    ORK

    Comment by orkelm — March 31, 2014 @ 7:54 am

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