Spanish and Portuguese Vocabulary Transfer

Foreign Service Institute: From Spanish to Portuguese



Much of your Portuguese vocabulary will come via direct transfer from Spanish. Vocabulary transfer has been implicit in our discussion of sounds in part I. We showed there how certain correspondences can guide you in the process. We indicated, for example, the great utility of knowing that Spanish ie and ue often correspond to Portuguese open e and open o, respectively, and that Spanish -ión, -on and -an (the latter two both stressed and unstressed) often correspond to the Portuguese nasal diphthong -ãu. In this section we will examine other correspondences, many of them not involving new sounds. We have attempted to separate the common ones from those that occur only occasionally. We have reserved a special place for those that involve word endings.

As a final note on vocabulary transfer we have listed several items that can be transferred only with considerable caution: false cognates.

Some Patterns of Correspondences

Common Correspondences

1. Sounds

• The Spanish h sound does not exist in Portuguese. In cognate words the h sound usually converts to one of three sounds: sh, zh, or lh. Study these groupings:

 

a.

Spanish h Portuguese sh sound
jefe chefe
bajo baixo
quejarse queixar-se
embajada embaixada
caja caixa
dejar deixar
bruja bruxa

 

b.

Spanish h Portuguese zh sound
junio junho
julio julho
junto junto
juez juiz
generoso generoso
gente gente
joven jovem
ligera ligeira
jugar jogar
adjectivo adjetivo
sargento sargento
extranjero estrangeiro
jardín jardim
reloj relógio
viaje viagem
página página

 

c.

Spanish h Portuguese lh (ll of Spanish calle)
mujer mulher
orejas orelhas
mejor melhor
trabajar trabalhar
mojar molhar
escoger escolher
abeja abelha
viejo velho
ojo ôlho
aguja agulha

NOTE: Spanish jabón / Portuguese sabão (s of English 'Sam')

Note also: Spanish ejemplo, ejercicio / Portuguese exemplo, exercício (where the x is pronounced like z of English 'zebra')

 

• Spanish ll sometimes shows up as l, sometimes as sh, and sometimes as lh (no change). Study these groupings:

 

a.

Spanish ll Portuguese l
bello belo
cabello cabelo
llevar levar
gallina galinha
amarillo amarelo
ella ela
allí ali
villa vila
caballo cavalo
callar calar
fallecer falecer

 

b.

Spanish ll Portuguese sh sound
llorar chorar
llamar chamar
llegar chegar
llave chave
llover chover
llano chão
lleno cheio

 

c.

Spanish ll Portuguese lh (no change)
fallar falhar
milla milha
millón milhão
toalla toalha
billete bilhete

Notice that Spanish ll appears between vowels in the first group (with the exception of llevar), and at the beginning of the words in the second group.

 

• Spanish n often corresponds to Portuguese nh; and conversely, Portuguese n often corresponds to Spanish ñ. Observe these groupings.

 

a.

Spanish n Portuguese nh
dinero dinheiro
camino caminho
ganar ganhar
sobrina sobrinha
tocino toucinho
vino vinho
amanecer amanhecer
cocina cozinha
espina espinha

 

b.

Spanish ñ Portuguese n
año ano
pequeño pequeno
caña cana
enseñar ensinar
dañar danar
pestaña pestana

 

• Portuguese inserts an f sound in a number of words where Spanish has the 'silent' printed h.

Spanish h (silent) Portuguese f
higo figo
hígado fígado
hacer fazer
hormiga formiga
hacienda fazenda
herir ferir
humo fumo
hervir ferver
hierro ferro
hazaña façanha
hijo * filho
hoja * fôlha
huracán furação
almohada almofada

* See grouping 1c above.

 

• Spanish ch often corresponds to Portuguese t.

Spanish ch Portuguese t
aprovechar aproveitar
techo teto
noche noite
leche leite
luchar lutar
estrecho estreito
hecho feito
ocho oito
mucho muito

 

• Previously, in another context, we mentioned that sometimes the Spanish s sound corresponds to the Portuguese z sound. Let us review that point.

 

Spanish s Portuguese z (spelled with s)
casa casa
cosa coisa
blusa blusa
música música
acusar acusar
veces vêzes
hacer fazer
cocina cozinha
azul azul
zorro zorro

 

• Spanish kt is often reduced to just t in Portuguese.

Spanish kt Portuguese t
acto ato
doctor doutor
dictador ditador
actual atual
contacto contato
carácter caráter
víctima vítima
perfecto perfeito
practicar praticar
arquitectura arquitetura

 

• Many Spanish words containing ks lose the k in the Portuguese cognate.

Spanish ks Portuguese s (sound)
acción ação
sección seção
lección lição
accidente acidente
occidental ocidental

There are exceptions. Note Portuguese ficcão and succão, both of which retain the k sound.

 

• Likewise, Spanish words containing mn are likely to lose the m in the Portuguese cognate.

 

Spanish mn Portuguese n
alumno aluno
columna coluna
himno hino
solemne solene
amnistía anistia
indemnizar indenizar
calumnia calúnia

The m is retained in amnésia.

 

• The l sound, as the second element of a Spanish cluster, often changes to an r sound in Portuguese. This happens quite frequently if the first element of the cluster is p, much less frequently in other cases.

Spanish consonant + l Portuguese consonant + r
placer
prazer
playa praia
plato prato
plata prata
plaza praça
plaga praga
plazo prazo
cumplir cumprir
emplear empregar
   
sable sabre
blanco branco
doblar dobrar
noble nobre
obligar obrigar
flaco fraco
flota frota
iglesia igreja
esclavo escravo

 

• Spanish -ano often corresponds to Portuguese -ão.

Spanish Portuguese
mano mão
hermano irmão
verano verão
anciano ancião
sano são
aldeano aldeão

Notice, however, Portuguese puritano, and colombiano, americano, venezuelano, persiano and many other nationalities.

 

• Spanish -ana often corresponds to Portuguese -ã

Spanish Portuguese
hermana irmã
manzana maçã
mañana amanhã
alemana alemã
anciana anciã
aldeana aldeã
sana

Notice, however, Portuguese campana, puritana, banana, as well as americana, colombiana and many other nationalities.

 


2. Word Endings

• Most Spanish adjectives ending in -ble will end in -vel in Portuguese.

 

Spanish Portuguese
horrible horrível
terrible terrível
favorable favorável
notable notável
posible possível
indispensable indispensável
amable amável
agradable agradável

 

• Portuguese equivalents of Spanish words ending in -dad (or -tad) and -tud usually add an unstressed i sound. In addition, the t of Spanish -tad is likely to be a d in Portuguese.

Spanish Portuguese
verdad verdade
dignidad dignidade
facilidad facilidade
   
dificultad dificuldade
lealtad lealdade
libertad liberdade
   
magnitud magnitude
actitud atitude

 

Some of the more notable exceptions:

Spanish Portuguese
aptitud aptidão
amistad amizade

 

• The s sound of the Spanish endings -eza and -oso corresponds to a z sound in Portuguese.

Spanish Portuguese
firmeza firmeza
riqueza riqueza
gentileza gentileza
fortaleza fortaleza
   
poderoso poderoso
famoso famoso
amoroso amoroso
espantoso espantoso

 

• The Spanish diminutive endings -ito(a) and -cito(a) correspond to Portuguese -inho(a) and -zinho(a)

Spanish Portuguese
carrito carrinho
Pablito Paulinho
mesita mesinha
casita casinha
cafecito cafezinho
pobrecita pobrezinha

 

• The Spanish noun-ending -ero generally corresponds to the Portuguese noun-ending -eiro. Notice the diphthong in the Portuguese forms.

Spanish Portuguese
portero porteiro
cartero carteiro
minero mineiro
zapatero sapateiro
vaquero vaqueiro
cocinero cozinheiro

 

The Spanish words presencia, diferencia, licencia and sentencia lose the ia diphthong in Portuguese. Most other words ending in -encia retain it. Thus:

Spanish Portuguese
presencia presença
diferencia diferença
licencia licença
sentencia sentença

 

but

Spanish Portuguese
eficiencia eficiência
paciencia paciência
inteligencia inteligência
providencia providência
esencia essência
competencia competência

 

Other word endings already discussed in other contexts include Spanish -ción / Portuguese -cão, and Spanish -aje / Portuguese -agem

 


Less Common Correspondences

The correspondences listed below are found in a smaller number of cognates than those listed above under 'Common Correspondences.' The cognates themselves may, of course, be very common words. In some cases, the examples given may be the only ones of their kind.

 

• Absence of l in Portuguese

Spanish Portuguese
salir sair
volar voar
doler doer
saludar saudar
diablo diabo

 

• Absence of n in Portuguese

Spanish Portuguese
comenzar começar
moneda moeda
defensa defesa
venado veado
amenaza ameaça
luna lua
crimen crime

 

• Absence of l or n and adjacent vowel in Portuguese.

Spanish Portuguese
color côr
dolor dor
poner pôr
tener ter
venir vir
general geral
sólo
ganado gado

 

• Absence of r in Portuguese

Spanish Portuguese
almorzar almoçar
sangre sangue
rostro rosto

 

• Absence of br in portuguese

Spanish Portuguese
nombre nome
hombre homem
acostumbrarse acostumar-se

 

• n becomes l in Portuguese

Spanish Portuguese
naranja laranja
berenjena berinjela

 

• Reversal of vowel and consonant

Spanish Portuguese
preguntar perguntar
apretar apertar

 

• Shift of diphthong, from after the consonant to before the consonant.

Spanish Portuguese
apio aipo
barrio bairro
novio noivo

 

• Vowel changes

 

1. Spanish e to Portuguese i

Spanish Portuguese
eso isso
lengua língua
venganza vingança
edad idade
profesional profissional
enseñar ensinar
corregir corrigir
vecino vizinho

 

2. Spanish u to Portuguese o

Spanish Portuguese
jugar jogar
ocurrir ocorrer
sufrir sofrer
rutina rotina
cubrir cobrir

 

3. Spanish o to Portuguese u

Spanish Portuguese
costar custar
sorpresa surprêsa
sordo surdo

 

• Spanish vowel to Portuguese diphthong

Spanish Portuguese
casi quase
más mais
jamás jamais
caja caixa
bajo baixo
   
dos dois
cosa coisa
noche noite
   
poco pouco
tesoro tesouro

 

• Spanish diphthong to Portuguese vowel

Spanish Portuguese
cuaderno caderno
antigua antiga
   
treinta trinta
veinte vinte

 

• Changes in stress patterns

Spanish Portuguese
policía polícia
teléfono telefone
límite limite
nivel nível

 




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