See Portuguese phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Portuguese.
Key for European and Brazilian Portuguese
Distinction is made between the two major standards of the language—Portugal (EP) and Brazil (BP). Neither variant is preferred at Wikipedia, except in cases where a local pronunciation is clearly more relevant, such as a place in Brazil or a Portuguese artist.
National variant differences should be noted with discretion: when there are differing dialectal Brazilian Portuguese pronunciations, the one closest to the European Portuguese should generally be preferred, as this guideline is intended to help native speakers of other languages.
- In northern and central Portugal, /b/, /d/, and /ɡ/ are lenited to fricatives of the same place of articulation ([β], [ð], and [ɣ], respectively) in all places except after a pause, or a nasal vowel, in which contexts they are stops [b, d, ɡ], not dissimilar from English b, d, g (Mateus & d'Andrade 2000:11). Most often, it happens only in southern and insular Portugal and in Brazil in some unstressed syllables, generally in relaxed speech, but this is by no means universal.
- In most varieties of Brazilian Portuguese, /d, t/ are palatalized and affricated to post-alveolar before high front vowels /i, ĩ/, to the exception of certain dialects of Northeast of Brazil, such as central northeastern Portuguese /d, t/ are more often pronounced alveolar or dental mode before high front vowels (/i, ĩ/). Furthermore, the full palatalization of /d, t/ in all positions before /i, ĩ/ (including in most loanwords) is only truly completed in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
- Final /l/ is velarized in European Portuguese and along the Brazilian-Uruguayan border.
- /ʎ/ has merged with [j] in some dialects of Brazilian Portuguese, specially the caipira one.
- The rhotic consonant represented as /ʁ/ has considerable variation across different variants, being pronounced as [x], [h], [χ], [ɦ], [ʀ], [r] etc. See also Guttural R in Portuguese.
- The rhotic consonants /ɾ/ ⟨r⟩ and /ʁ/ ⟨rr⟩ contrast only between vowels. Otherwise, they are in complementary distribution as ⟨r⟩, with /ʁ/ occurring word-initially, after ⟨l⟩, ⟨n⟩, and ⟨s⟩ and in compounds; /ɾ/ is found elsewhere.
- The realization of syllable-final ⟨r⟩ varies amongst dialects; it is generally pronounced as an alveolar tap [ɾ] in European Portuguese and some Brazilian dialects (e.g. Rio Grande do Sul state and São Paulo city), as a coronal approximant ([ɹ] or [ɻ]) in various other Brazilian dialects, and as a guttural R in all others (e.g. Rio de Janeiro city, the overwhelmingly majority from the Northeast). Additionally, in some Brazilian Portuguese dialects, word-final ⟨r⟩ may be weakened to complete elision in infinitives; e.g. ficar [fiˈka] (no ⟨r⟩ is pronounced but as a tap [ɾ] only if it is followed by a vowel sound in the same phrase or prosodic unit: ficar ao léu [fiˈkaɾ aw ˈlɛw]). This is very similar to the linking R used in some accents of English, e.g. Received Pronunciation or Australian English.
- Mostly in Brazil, the fricatives /s/ and /z/ are not palatalized between syllables or coda positions, but there is a strong palatalization of them in some dialects, such as fluminense, northern, recifense, soteropolitan and florianopolitan (coda /s/ merges with /ʃ/ and /z/ merges with /ʒ/). In the carioca dialect (southern coast of Rio de Janeiro, including the whole metropolitan area), coda sibilants are almost always palatalized ([ɕ, ʑ]), while in most dialects of the northeast region of Brazil, palatalization of fricatives occurs only before stop or affricate consonants (/d, t, dʒ, tʃ/), such in as the word texto [ˈteʃtu]. Finally, coda sibilants are often debuccalized ([h, ɦ] e.g. mesmo /ˈmezmu/ [ˈmeɦmu]) or deleted in common parlance but never in the standard form of the language.
- Intervocalic glides are ambisyllabic, they are part of previous falling diphthongs and they are geminated to next syllable onset. Examples of such pronunciations are goiaba [ɡojˈjabɐ] and Cauã for [kawˈwɐ̃].
- Most Brazilian dialects have closed ⟨a⟩ for stressed sequences ⟨ai⟩ when it comes before /m/ and /n/. In many dialects it is also nasalized. Many speakers of those dialects, including broadcast media has open ⟨a⟩ for some words like Jaime and Roraima.
- First-person plural past tense in European Portuguese has open ⟨a⟩, and present tense has closed ⟨a⟩. Both conjugated with closed ⟨a⟩ in Brazilian Portuguese
- The "northern dialects" (restricted to North and Northeast Brazil) do not follow the Standard Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation in terms of unstressed vocalism—the standard pronunciation of these vowels are always closed /e, o/, as in "perereca" [peɾeˈɾɛkɐ] and "horário" [oˈɾaɾju], but on those dialects, they are open vowels /ɛ, ɔ/, and the pronunciations of these words to change for [pɛɾɛˈɾɛkɐ] and [ɔˈɾaɾju]. This is also true to smaller degrees to most speakers from Rio de Janeiro and the Federal District, as local dialects are also very vocally harmonic, and to many speakers from Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Goiás and Espírito Santo. In many cases, the /ɛ, e/, /ɔ, o/ distinctions are not at all clear, neutralizing towards [e̞, o̞] (these are possible in almost the entirety of Brazil, in fact). Brazilian Portuguese /ẽ, õ/ might also vary between close-mid, mid and open-mid positions depending on the dialect, speaker and word.
- In the dialect of Lisbon, /e/ merges with /ɐ/ when it comes before palatal sounds (e.g. abelha, venho, jeito).
- There is no diphthong before palatal consonant, so hiatuses are not indicated before /ɲ/ (e.g. rainha /ʁaˈiɲɐ/).
- In Brazilian Portuguese, pre-stressed close ⟨a⟩ only is obligatory before /ɲ/, and has tendency to raise before other nasal consonant. In many dialects nasalization also is obligatory before /ɲ/, Wetzel proposes such nasalized dialects have phonemic palatal gemination (e.g. canhoto /kaɲˈɲotu/ [kɐ̃ˈɲotu]). See Consoantes palatais como geminadas fonológicas no Português Brasileiro*
- In words such as "perigo" [pɪˈɾiɡu] and "boneco" [bʊˈnɛku], for example, vowels ⟨e, o⟩ pre-stressed syllables may be pronounced, respectively, as [ɪ, ʊ] in some varieties of Brazilian Portuguese, instead of [i, u].
- Some of the post-stressed high vowels in hiatuses, as in frio ('cold') and rio ('river'), may vary between a reduced vowel [ˈfɾi.u] and a glide [ˈfɾiw], exceptions are verbal conjugations, forming pairs like eu rio [ˈew ˈʁi.u] (I laugh) and ele riu [ˈelɨ ˈʁiw] (he laughed).
- Nasal vowels in Portuguese are /ɐ̃/, /ẽ/, /ĩ/, /õ/ and /ũ/
- Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa com Acordo Ortográfico. An on-line dictionary with IPA phonetic transcription. (in Portuguese)