Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sound Correspondences of Spanish and Portuguese

Spanish and Portuguese share a number of sound correspondences. They illustrate the similarity of the two languages.

A "j" (pharyngeal, velar or glottal fricative depending on dialect) in Spanish often corresponds to an lh (palatal lateral) in Portuguese. I illustrate with these examples:

ajo, alho (garlic)
hijo, filho (son)
ojo, olho (eye)
mojado, molhado (wet)

An "h" in Spanish (no phonetic value) often corresponds to an "f" in Portuguese. Here are a few examples:

hacer, fazer (to do, to make)
hijo, filho (son)
haba, fava (bean)
hablar, falar (to speak)

An "l" in Spanish often corresponds to an "r" in Portuguese. Here are a few examples:

plato, prato (plate)
blanco, branco (white)
placer, prazer (pleasure)
obligado, obrigado (obliged)

The Spanish diphthong "ie" is often the vowel "e" in Portuguese. This occurs with stressed vowels. Here are examples:

tierra, terra (earth)
hierro, ferro (iron)
siete, sete (seven)
pierna, perna (leg)

A Spanish "ll" (palatal approximant or palatal lateral) often corresponds to a "ch" (alveopalatal fricative) in Portuguese. Here are a few examples:

lluvia, chuva (rain)
llamar, chamar (to call)
lleno, cheio (full)
llorar, chorar (to cry)

The Spanish diphthong "ue" is often an "o" in Portuguese. This typically occurs with stressed vowels. Here are examples to illustrate:

puerta, porta (door)
nueve, nove (nine)
nuevo, novo (new)
suerte, sorte (luck)

It is clear that Spanish and Portuguese are related languages with many sound correspondences. Knowledge of these sound correspondences not only makes it easier to learn the vocabulary of the two languages but also often makes it possible to predict a word in one language. In other words, if one knows a particular word in Spanish, it is often possible to guess the word in Portuguese and vice-versa.

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