Language barriers...


Valued Senior Member

this is a question to speakers of Portuguese or Spanish.

How do I write the sound; "nh" (Portuguese) or ñ (Spanish)
in English?

What sound do: nh and ñ
make in English??

I was told this by my tutor the other day and I can't remember, crap diggity. I knew it would come in handy one day.

But on a hunch it's like a nah sound
Totally unrelated but I have a friend who did his thesis on natural language processing...I think he's working on some software that can accurately translate text on the fly....

It's like Enya, the singer/pianist woman!

jadedflower said:
How do I write the sound: "nh" (Portuguese) or ñ (Spanish) in English? What sound do: nh and ñ make in English?
The answer to both questions is the same: "ny".

This sound is very common in English, but we consider it a combination of two sounds: N and Y.

annual: pronounced AN-YU-UL
onion: pronounced UN-YUN

See, we actually split the N and the Y between two syllables, making it clear that we think of it as two sounds. We don't have any words that start with "ny". Although Spanish and Portuguese don't either, except for a few words they borrowed from the languages of the indigenous people in the New World.

However, as you can see, we don't have any standard way of spelling the NY sound in English. It depends on the origin of the word.

When we borrow words from Spanish, such as "señor," we write ñ with the tilde and pronounced it correctly. That's not true of Spanish LL, which we often destroy either in spelling or in pronunciation. For example, we pronounce "llama" as "lama" instead of "yama" (Western Hemisphere Spanish) or "lyama" (Castilian Spanish). We pronounce "arrollo" properly, as "aroyo" (sorry, most Americans can't make the rolled RR sound), but we changed the spelling to "arroyo."

English has not borrowed very many words from Portuguese. I can't think of a single one that has either Portuguese NH or LH in it. Furthermore, nobody here can pronounce "São Paulo" or "sim" correctly.

In the Slavic languages, words can both begin and end with the ñ sound. For example in Russian:

NYE = "not"
OCHENY = "very" (That Y is not a vowel; "cheny" is one syllable.