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Commonly Mispronounced Portuguese Words

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Learning Portuguese can be an exciting adventure, but sometimes pronunciations can trip up even the most dedicated linguaphiles. To help you navigate the common pitfalls, here’s a list of commonly mispronounced Portuguese words along with their definitions and examples.

Coração (heart)
While it may look straightforward, “coração” often confuses learners with its nasal sound and the pronunciation of ‘ç’ as ‘s’. The correct pronunciation is something like ko-ha-sow, with the ‘ão’ ending being a nasal sound not typically found in English.
Ela segue o seu coração em todas as decisões que toma.

Desenvolvimento (development)
“Desenvolvimento” is another word often mispronounced, mainly due to the number of syllables and the nasal ‘e’ sound. It should be pronounced as dze-zen-vee-lyi-men-to, and remember that the ‘vol’ is not pronounced like ‘volume’ but with an “ee” sound.
O desenvolvimento da economia local é imprescindível para a cidade.

Exceção (exception)
This word presents a challenge with the ‘x’ making a ‘ss’ sound and ‘ção’ being a nasal. The correct pronunciation is ees-say-sow.
Há sempre uma exceção para cada regra que existe.

Pneumonia (pneumonia)
Portuguese speakers, like many others, begin “pneumonia” with a silent ‘p’, pronouncing it as new-mo-nee-ah.
Ele foi diagnosticado com pneumonia depois de semanas com tosse.

Oftalmologista (ophthalmologist)
A real tongue-twister, “oftalmologista” often gets butchered by learners. Break it down, and pronounce it as of-tal-mo-lo-gis-ta.
Marcarei uma consulta com o oftalmologista para checar minha visão.

Psicologia (psychology)
The initial ‘p’ is silent, and the stress is on the ‘lo’, so it’s pronounced see-co-lo-gia.
Ele estuda Psicologia na universidade e adora o curso.

Quarta-feira (Wednesday)
This word can confuse learners with its silent ‘r’ in ‘quarta’ and the need to nasalize the ‘fei’. Correctly, it’s pronounced as ku-ar-ta fay-rah.
Nós combinamos de nos encontrar na próxima quarta-feira.

Xícara (cup)
The ‘x’ here makes a ‘sh’ sound, and ‘cara’ should be more like ‘ka-rah’. Thus, pronounce it as shee-ka-rah.
Você gostaria de mais uma xícara de café?

Paralelepípedo (cobblestone)
With its long string of vowels and consonants, “paralelepípedo” is a mouthful. Pronounce it as pa-ra-le-le-pee-pe-do.
As ruas de pedra são feitas de paralelepípedos.

Trabalho (work)
Word stress is important in Portuguese. For “trabalho,” emphasize the first syllable and remember that ‘lh’ is a palatal lateral approximant, so pronounce it tra-ba-lyu.
Ela sempre está cansada após um dia de trabalho.

Now that we’ve gone through some of the trickier words, keep practicing their pronunciations. Remember, consistent listening and speaking are key to mastering Portuguese phonetics. Buena sorte (good luck)!

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