Determining Differences and Disorders
Understanding Portuguese Speech and Language Development and Structure will help us know which students have a speech or language impairment and which ones have a speech or language disorder.
- Number of speakers: Approximately 215 million worldwide. The largest population of Portuguese speakers is in Brazil followed by Portugal.
- Writing system: Latin alphabet; written accents denote irregular stress patterns as well as vowel quality.
- Language Family: Romance language; closest relative is Spanish
- Official language in: Brazil, Portugal; Portuguese is also spoken in some Asian and African countries. Different dialects are spoken in each of these places.
Let’s compare English and Portuguese Speech and Language Development
Brazilian Portuguese mostly uses /tʃ/ for T and /dƷ/ for D before the letter [i]. Examples: tíbia [tʃ’ibja] and dígito [dƷ’iʒitu]. These are allophonic variations of [t] and [d] and not additional phonemes. In other words, while in English you have the word “tip” and “chip,” where [t] and [ch] result in different meanings, in Brazilian Portuguese those two sounds do not differentiate meaning.
There is also a third sound for the letter R in Brazilian Portuguese: /ɹ/ before a consonant and at the end of a word. Example: cartógrafo [kɐɹt’ɔgɾɐfo].
Portuguese Developmental Norms
/p, t, k, b, d, g, m, n, ɲ, f, s, ʃ, v, R/
/a, ɐ, i. e. ɛ, o, ɔ, u, ē, ī, ō/
/ ʃ (syllable-final position), l, ʎ/
/z, ʒ, ɾ/
/pl, kl, fl/
/ɾ (syllable-final position)/
/fɾ, vɾ, bɾ, pɾ/
/ʄ (syllable-final position)/
/kɾ, tɾ, dɾ, gɾ/
(Lousada, Mendes, Valente, & Hall , 2012)
Comparing Portuguese and English Language Structure
|Feature||Portuguese||English||Examples of Errors|
|Word Order||Subject-Verb-Object||Subject-Verb-Object||No expected errors|
|Possessives||Object+of+Person||Possession marked by ‘s||The car of my mom is blue*/ My mom’s car is blue.|
|Adjectives||Noun adjective||Adjective noun||The ball big bounced.*/ The big ball bounced.|
|Present tense verb inflection||
5-6 forms, determined by subject:
|She talk to me.* / She talks to me.|
|Use of subject pronouns||Pro-drop language (pronoun is dropped before verb once subject is established)||Pronoun or subject is always required||Looks for the frog* / He looks for the frog.|
|Double negative||Can be used; multiple negative elements occurring in the same clause do not cancel one another but instead reinforce each other||Cannot be used||I don’t want to do nothing*/ I don’t want to do anything.|
|Question Formation||Rising intonation is used with word order remaining the same or a question word is used at the beginning of the question with rising intonation.||Questions marked by word order inversion, question words, or addition of do||
You give me a sticker?*/ Will you give me a sticker?
What you think?*/ What do you think?
We can go?* / Can we go?
If you want to hone your skills with English Language Learners, take a look at our CLD Essentials Package that will be available on December 1st. It will includes two online courses and a copy of Difference or Disorder? Understanding Speech and Language Differences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students.
Thanks to the great feedback we have gotten from those using the Difference or Disorder book, we’ve set out to make a second edition that will include Filipino/Tagalog, Cambodian, Urdu/Hindi, Ibo, Amharic, Portuguese, Turkish, Hmong, Albanian, Thai, Kinyarwanda, Pashto and Romanian. If there are other languages you would like to see, please let us know. For those not familiar with our current book, we’ve already compared and contrasted English with Spanish, Vietnamese (see post about it), Hebrew, Korean, German, Czech, Japanese, Farsi, Mandarin, French, Russian, Arabic, and the African-American English dialect.