EP word of the week (#57): desporto

To commemorate the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, what better way than to have a special EP Words of the Week segment meant to celebrate the different words for sport[s] between Brazilian and European Portuguese?

In EP, the word we use is [o] desporto; in BP, the word they use is [o] esporte. This obviously affects words that are derived from these nouns; just to give one example, EP uses the adjective desportivo/a to make reference to sports-associated items ([o] clube desportivo – sports club), while its Brazilian counterpart is esportivo/a.


I should mention that the plural of desporto, [os] desportos, is used only when we’re talking about more than one individual sport (for example, fencing and swimming; or gymnastics, the modern pentathlon, and table tennis); whenever English uses sports in a general, broader sense, EP will use the singular instead (e.g. to play sports is fazer desporto).

Also relevant is to note another quirky feature of standard EP that intersects with these nouns: the fact that some words suffer a change in the sound of their stressed vowel when they’re pluralized. This happens with a few words that have a closed o (IPA [o]) in their (stressed) next-to-last syllable; in the plural, it turns into an open o (IPA [ɔ]):

  • [o] desporto (sport/sports): dəʃˈportu > [os] desportos: dəʃˈpɔrtuʃ
  • [o] almoço (lunch): aɫˈmosu > [os] almoços: aɫˈmɔsuʃ
  • [o] fogo (fire): ˈfoɡu > [os] fogos: ˈfɔɡuʃ
  • [o] jogo (game): ˈʒoɡu > [os] jogos: ˈʒɔɡuʃ
  • [o] olho (eye): ˈoʎu  >  [os] olhos: ˈɔʎuʃ
  • [o] ovo (egg): ˈovu > [os] ovos: ˈɔvuʃ
  • [o] tijolo (brick): tiˈʒolu > [os] tijolos: tiˈʒɔluʃ

Stressed syllable in both words [i.e. the same] in blue; changing vowels marked in red

Like many rules this one also has its fair share of exceptions, which include the unchanging closed o in the words [o] coco / [os] cocos (coconut[s]), [o] sopro / [os] sopros (puff[s] of air, breath, [heart] murmur[s]); [o] rosto / [os] rostos (face[s]), among many others.

EP Words of the Week will return to its once a week schedule next Wednesday, but I’ll write a few extra posts if there is a special occasion I’d like to highlight and its date doesn’t fall on or near any given Wednesday.

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