Shwa for Portuguese
O Alfabeto Chuá para o Português

From the Wikipedia article on Portuguese orthography:

"The spelling of Portuguese is largely phonemic, but some phonemes can be spelled in more than one way. In ambiguous cases, the correct spelling is determined through a combination of etymology with morphology and common tradition, so there is not a perfect one-to-one correspondence between sounds and letters or digraphs."

Not only is Portuguese sometimes difficult to spell, but the Roman alphabet can't distinguish between mid-open and mid-closed vowels. For example, the word selo is pronounced with mid-open ɛ when it means I stamp, but is pronounced with mid-closed e when it means a seal. Likewise, the word avó is pronounced with mid-open ɔ when it means grandmother, but is pronounced with mid-closed o when it means grandfather! And why did the orthographic reform of 1990 eliminate the trema from tranqüilo?

A third problem is that Portuguese can be hard for foreigners to read, since some letters have unusual values, e.g. x, and some readings require rules that foreigners don't know, as in bem or Brasil. The Shwa alphabet solves these problems, and also does away with digraphs like ch lh nh ss rr. When writing Portuguese in Shwa, we also show vowel reduction explicitly, which makes Shwa spelling somewhat more phonetic than the Roman.

Finally, there are significant differences between dialects, and the Shwa spelling reflects those differences. If it's pronounced differently, it's spelled differently in the various dialects, just as the word for bus is spelled autocarro, ônibus or machimbombo in Portugal, Brazil and Angola.


Here are the consonants of Portuguese :

bomba dedo gato guerra
papel tanto casa quatro aqui
vva zero Brasil jogo gente
filha sapo cedo assado açorda chuva xisto
mesmo nunca minha
Lula filha
caro mar prato rosa carro


Here are the short oral vowels:

vida pegar tudo
cedo vaca movo
cede gato move

The and vowels only occur in unstressed syllables (see below).

The others all combine with semivowels y and w to form both rising and falling diphthongs, and even triphthongs.

There are also nasal versions of the closed and mid vowels :

cinta sunto
sento santo sondo

As usual, Shwa writes stressed vowels with high letters.

Sound Changes

Some of the sounds above change in certain environments. Here are some examples :

In European Portuguese, an l is pronounced as ll at the end of syllables, while in Brazilian Portuguese it becomes w :

bolsa (European) (Brazilian)

On both sides of the Atlantic, unstressed vowels are usually reduced:

But there are words like pregar, which means to nail when the e is reduced, and to preach when it isn't.

In many dialects, d t are affricated to dj ch before i ih :

saudade mentira


Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades.


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