Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Why Does Portuguese Sound Like Russian?! (or Polish)

Difficulty: 0

hello everyone welcome to the Laing

focused Channel and my name is Paul

thank you for watching and have a nice



Nikki what what do you want what do you

mean that's wrong I say that in every

video oh right cut hello everyone

welcome to the Laing focused Channel and

my name is Paul

today's topic is why does Portuguese

sound like Russian Oh be quiet so why am

I even asking that question well a lot

of people hear Portuguese and it's

usually the Portuguese spoken in

Portugal rather than Brazil or elsewhere

and they think it sounds Russian or

Slavic Russian being a Slavic language

of course most of the people who say

this are people who don't speak either

language but just think that something

about Portuguese sounds Russian without

really being able to describe why now

I'm sure that a lot of Portuguese

speakers and Russian speakers will say

that that's ridiculous they sound

nothing alike but I've even heard native

speakers of Russian say that they think

Portuguese sounds Russian and I've heard

native speakers of Polish as well say

that they think Portuguese sounds like

polish let me be clear that they are not

saying that Portuguese is mutually

intelligible with Russian or with any

other Slavic language it's not at all

what they do say is that if they hear

Portuguese being spoken at a distance

but they aren't close enough to hear

what's being said or if they're not

really paying attention to what's being

said then they think it sounds like

Russian or polish and I've heard the

same thing in Reverse from European

speakers of Portuguese if they hear

Russian or another Slavic language from

a distance they might think that it

sounds like Portuguese so how can that

happen well it's because of some similar

elements in their phonology stress timed

languages one important similarity

between Portuguese and Russian is that

both of them are stress timed languages

in a stress timed language the length of

time between stressed syllables remains

relatively consistent and in order to

fit into that fixed time interval

unstressed syllables become compressed

and shortened this results in a lot of

vowel reduction

European Portuguese contains quite an

extreme amount of vowel reduction for

example can foam this means I'm hungry

you can see that the sound o is reduced

to you or a schwa and the eighth sound

is reduced can form another example


again the O is reduced and a is reduced

or basically disappears important and

there's similarly a lot of vowel

reduction in Russian for example Oobleck

this word means cloud the R is reduced

to a schwa and o is also reduced to a

schwa Oobleck another example subrogee

this word means boots you probably

noticed the reduction in these two

vowels right here sub baggy Russian and

other Slavic languages also have a lot

of consonant clusters and because of the

heavy vowel reduction in European

Portuguese it ends up having more

consonant clusters than other Romance

languages here is a Portuguese example

so this means to despise this is a

consonant cluster with four consonants

which results from the dropping of the e

vowel a preserve for consonants is an

extreme example and 3 is more common and

here's a Russian example splits this

means splash this cluster also has four

consonants splits in addition to the

vowel reduction the stressed timing

results in a similar rhythm a similar

cadence in contrast with stress times

languages there are also syllable timed

languages in syllable timed languages

each syllable lasts for a more or less

equal duration of time other Romance

languages are much more syllable time to

than Portuguese which gives it it's

different cadence and its vowel

reduction it's interesting to note that

Brazilian Portuguese which has weaker

stressed timing than European Portuguese

is often said to sound more like Spanish

than European Portuguese does but there

are lots of stressed timed languages

including English and I don't hear

anybody saying that Portuguese sounds

like English so there must be more to it

than that

sibilance one feature of Russian is that

sibilant sounds are quite prominent

sibilants are consonants that have a

hissing or hushing sound as in the

english civil

ha-cha-cha ja ja Russian features these

sibilants ha ha

cha-cha-cha and Portuguese features

these four ha ha ha ha

Portuguese contains frequent sibilants

and specifically has an abundance of

palato-alveolar sibilants sha which is

voiceless and Asia which is voiced

orthographic s and z are rendered as sha

Anja in some contexts before a voiceless

consonant or before a pause sibilance

are pronounced shut for example C ROG

meaning cities Alex

meaning happy in the plural form first

Trish this means makes 3 ills

this means they in this example the s

becomes shook at the end of the word and

also notice that the reduced vowel a

fully dropped vowel actually results in

a consonant cluster ending in show

before a voiced consonant yeah for

example fleas mint meaning fortunately

it's also worth noting that the letter J

and also G when it's pronounced as a

soft G are also pronounced sure these

two Russian sibilants and have similar

sounds to portuguese shah and this

russian sibilant jaw is similar to


jaw they're not exactly the same the

Portuguese ones are post alveolar

sibilants while these Russian ones are

retroflex sibilants with a slightly

different place of articulation and this

one here is an Alvey Leo palatal

sibilant this sound is also slightly

different from the Portuguese one but it

sounds somewhat similar at least to

people who don't use that sound natively

a moment ago we saw a type of consonant

assimilation in Portuguese that makes

the sibilant either voiced or voiceless

depending on what follows in Russian

there's a similar type of assimilation

for most consonants voiced consonants

are pronounced as voiceless at the end

of a word or before another voiceless

consonant and voiceless consonants are

pronounced as voiced before a voiced

consonant for example moosh in this word

Jah becomes voiceless and is pronounced

as sha vodka in this word the becomes

voiceless and is pronounced as to the

ghazal in this word becomes voiced and

is pronounced as good so the frequent

voiceless sibilant show at the end of

words and Portuguese as well as the

assimilation of sibilants to the

following consonant making them either

voiceless sha or voiced Asia might

unconsciously remind us of the similar

but more generalized pattern in Russian

that same pattern is also a feature of

Polish and most other Slavic languages

with Ukrainian being a notable exception

palatalized consonants one prominent

feature of Russian is a distinction

between hard consonants and soft

consonants which are palatalized they

sound somewhat like a consonant with a u

sound immediately following Portuguese

features two palatal consonants the

characters in H represent na a palatal

nasal for example canoe which we saw

before a similar sound appears in

Russian as one of the soft consonants

for example who strain yet

meaning eliminate and in Portuguese the

letters L H stand for na a palatal

lateral approximant for example could a

volume again there's a soft consonant in

Russian that sounds similar for example

booyah these two palatal consonants

alone are not enough to make Portuguese

sound Slavic after all these sounds do

appear in some other Romance languages

too but together with the other elements

this is one thing that contributes to

the overall Slavic sound of Portuguese

the dark L another phonetic feature that

sounds Slavic is the villa rised L of

European Portuguese this is like Ola the

dark L sound at the end of the word


o the standard L o sound in Russian is

also a dark L like this here's a

Portuguese example alt meaning high

natal meaning Christmas and a Russian

example Blut meaning to swim luke

meaning bow or onion nasal vowels and

diphthongs I mentioned before that some

people think that portugee

sounds like polish another Slavic

language and all of the features that I

mentioned about Russian also applied to

polish but polish has one other feature

in common with Portuguese that Russian

does not nasal vowels in old Slavonic

there were nasal vowels but in modern

Slavic languages they have merged with

oral vowels except for in Polish in

Portuguese there are a number of nasal

vowels and nasal diphthongs and in

Polish there are two nasal vowels this

letter is pronounced Oh which sounds

close to the Portuguese nasal diphthong

oh and there's one more L this is the

nasal I sound because polish nasal

vowels consist of an oral vowel followed

by a nasal semi vowel they sound

somewhat like nasal diphthongs of which

Portuguese has several here's a polish

example lunch meaning snake and here's a

Portuguese example with a similar nasal

vowel down

here's another polish example Venza

meaning snakes and here's a Portuguese

example in so even though Portuguese is

not closely related to Russian polish or

any other Slavic language they just

belong to language families within the

wider indo-european language family

that's their only connection they do

share a number of phonological features

that make them sound superficially

similar to the untrained ear

especially from a distance or when

you're not paying attention to what's

being said it's not really a big deal in

the grand scheme of things but it raises

an interesting question what are those

features that stand out to us and make

us think that they sound similar largely

on an unconscious level the question of

the day two speakers of Portuguese and

two speakers of Russian polish and other

Slavic languages have you ever had the

impression that Portuguese sounds Slavic

what sounds or features might have given

you that impression and to other people

does Portuguese sound Russian to you or

sound Slavic to you you may not

consciously know what Russian or Slavic

sounds like but you probably associate

them with certain sounds unconsciously

leave your responses in the comments

down below be sure to follow Lange focus

on Facebook Twitter and Instagram and

once again thank you to all of my

amazing patreon supporters these are my

top tier patreon supporters right here

on the screen many extra special thanks

to them

welcome to the Laing focused channel and

my name is Paul


The Description of Why Does Portuguese Sound Like Russian?! (or Polish)