Tag Archives: pronunciation

Portuguese Pronunciation and Language Tips

I’ll be taking a group of 34 MBA students on an international business immersion trip to my native Brazil this Spring. We’ll be visiting about a dozen companies in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This is an initiative created by the awesome Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Miami.

I’d like my students to be able to pronounce some of the main sounds in Portuguese correctly because I know Brazilians pay attention and really enjoy when foreigners make an effort to say things properly. Therefore, I created a video in which I go over what I consider to be some of the most important things to know when speaking Portuguese (there are others, but I didn’t want the video to be too long).

You can access it on my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzgoYFokBPk

Moreover, the 2016 Olympic Games are coming, so I figured these tips could be useful for a larger audience as well. I wish American sports casters would watch this video because they murdered the pronunciation of everything during the World Cup in 2014.

Bonus material: My daughter, Lavinia Lilith, a.k.a. #LLCoolBaby, makes a short appearance at around the halfway mark.



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Filed under Brazil, People, Teaching, Tips and Tricks, Travel, Videos, YouTube

Pronunciation Mistakes and Border Security

I love the English language. It’s compact, flexible, and easy to learn (at least easier than Latin languages like Spanish, French or Portuguese with all those verb conjugations). Although I’ve been learning English since I was twelve years old, I still make a significant number of pronunciation mistakes. Being married to an American makes my life much easier, and I really appreciate it when my wife corrects my pronunciation (after laughing out loud for 5 minutes, of course).

Yesterday, I started thinking that it may be possible to state that native speakers of language X typically make certain pronunciation mistakes when speaking English. More precisely, I started looking at my own mistakes and the mistakes of my fellow Brazilians. This led me to state the following conjecture:

Conjecture: When asked to say the following sentence out loud, 90% of all Brazilians who can speak English will make at least one pronunciation mistake:

“Sporting summer clothes, Jimmy Buffet was drinking his favorite lager as the road wound before driving over the Potomac river, where the scarce geese population has been massacred, when he saw his friends Graham and Craig from Akron, Ohio on his rear view mirror, wearing their hunting apparel.”

Try it out and let me know what happens! (I’m already counting myself as 1 out of 1.) UPDATE (4/17/10): 3 out of 3 Brazilians have made at least one mistake.

This little exercise made me think of using speech analysis for security purposes. Let’s say you’re screening people and you’re worried that they aren’t really from the country they claim to be from (e.g. fake passport). They could be asked to read a passage of text, which will then be analyzed by a computer program that will look for pronunciation mistakes (even tiny ones) or inconsistencies. Say, for example, that people from country X typically say word Y in a certain way and this person does not. That’s a first warning sign. If enough of these signs are caught, that may mean something (statistically speaking).

Has anyone heard of this kind of screening procedure? I’d love to read something about it. Perhaps OR can be used to help choose the main words that should go into the text passages, or to help with the speech analysis.


Filed under Applications, Security