The phonology of Portuguese can vary considerably between dialects, in extreme cases leading to difficulties in intelligibility. This article focuses on the pronunciations that are generally regarded as standard. Since Portuguese is a pluricentric language, and differences between European Portuguese (EP) and Brazilian Portuguese (BP) can be considerable, both varieties are distinguished whenever necessary.
One of the most salient differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese is their prosody. European Portuguese is a stress-timed language, with reduction, devoicing or even deletion of unstressed vowels and a general tolerance of syllable-final consonants. Brazilian Portuguese, on the other hand, is of mixed characteristics, halfway to being a syllable-timed language, with a lighter reduction of unstressed vowels – less stern raising, much less devoicing and, to the exception of [i ~ ɪ ~ e] and [u ~ ʊ ~ o] when word-final or between the phonemes /t/, /d/ and /s/, /z/, absence of deletion – and an increasing preference for open syllables, being very tolerant just with sibilants and postalveolar affricate allophones on final coda, as well the aforementioned and the rhotics on non-final coda.
Recent changes in Brazilian Portuguese are steadily eliminating closed syllables: coda nasals are deleted with concomitant nasalization of the preceding vowel, even in learned words; coda /l/ becomes [u̯] or [ʊ̯], except for conservative velarization at the extreme south and rhotacism in remote rural areas in the center of the country; dialectal coda /ʁ/ (/ɾ/ in Europe, as well southern and western dialects) is often never trilled outside the fluminense area, thus fricatives [x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ h ɦ] (voice depends on following consonant), and is usually deleted entirely when word-final in words with more than one syllable; and /i/ is epenthesized after almost all other coda-final consonants, with only a few clusters tolerated (e.g. consonant+/s/, /ks/). This tends to produce words almost entirely composed of open syllables, e.g. advogado [ɐdʒivo̞ˈɡadu] "lawyer"; McDonald's [mɛ̞kiˈdõnɐ̞wdʒis]; rock [ˈχɔki].
Some Brazilian dialects present phonological characteristics closer to those found in Europe (fluminense and florianopolitano, for instance, have a more strict vowel reduction, as does almost every Vernacular Brazilian speech when compared to the formal one, while fluminense and formal Brazilian Portuguese have a far greater tolerance to coda rhotic finals) though, while African and various rural, remote European Portuguese and Galician dialects often present characteristics commonly associated with Brazilian speech. For finer information on regional accents, see Portuguese dialects, and for historical sound changes see History of Portuguese.
The consonant inventory of Portuguese is fairly conservative. The medieval affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ merged with the fricatives /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, respectively, but not with each other, and there have been no other significant changes to the consonant phonemes since then. However, several consonant phonemes have special allophones at syllable boundaries, and a few also undergo allophonic changes at word boundaries. Henceforward, the phrase "at the end of a syllable" can be understood as "before a consonant or at the end of a word".
There is a variation in the pronunciation of the first consonant of certain clusters, most commonly C or P in cç, ct, pç and pç. These consonants may be variably ellided or conserved. For some words, this variation may exist inside a country, sometimes in all of them; for others, the variation is dialectal, with the consonant being always pronounced in one country and always ellided in the other. This variation affects 0,5% of the language's vocabulary, or 575 words out of 110,000. In most cases, Brazilians variably conserve the consonant while speakers elsewhere have invariably ceased to pronounce it (for example, dete(c)tor in Brazil versus detetor in Portugal). The inverse situation is rarer, occurring in words such as fa(c)to and conta(c)to (consonants never pronounced in Brazil, pronounced elsewhere). Until 2009, this reality could not be apprehended from the spelling: while Brazilians did not write consonants that were no longer pronounced, the spelling of the other countries retained them in many words as silent letters, usually when there was still a vestige of their presence in the pronunciation of the preceding vowel. This could give the false impression that European Portuguese was phonologically more conservative in this aspect, when in fact it was Brazilian Portuguese that retained more consonants in pronunciation.
|/d/||dato||[ˈdatu]||'I date' (time)|
|/ʃ/||chato||[ˈʃatu]||'boring' (adj., m)|
|/k/||cato||[ˈka(k)tu]||'I pick up'|
|/z/||zaca||[ˈzakɐ]||'Buddhist high priest'|
Unlike its neighbor and relative Spanish, Portuguese lacks a tendency to elide any stop, including those that may become a continuant (always fricative in Portuguese) by lenition (/b/ → [β], /d/ → [ð], /g/ → [ɣ]), but it has a number of allophones to it.
In the totality of Brazilian dialects, including the overwhelmingly majority of the registers of Rio de Janeiro (from where this process is said to have expanded to elsewhere in Brazil), other fluminense-speaking areas, and São Paulo, as well some rural areas of Portugal, the dental stops are affricated to [tʃ ~ tɕ] and [dʒ ~ dʑ] before /i/, /ĩ/ and [i ~ ɪ]. Even if unstressed rhyme /i/ or [i ~ ɪ] is deleted as often, /d/ will still affricate (in people with the alveolo-palatal allophone, such as most cariocas, deletion of the vowel may be more common). Post-alveolar affricates also appear in loanwords from languages such as English, Spanish and Japanese (though it is common in Portugal to merge them with the post-alveolar sibilants, as was done with the former native affricate sounds in the Middle Ages).
Likewise, in the totality of dialects of both Portugal and Brazil, an elided /ɨ/ (or [e̞ ~ ɪ ~ i]) or unstressed /i/ before another one (that actually becomes /ɨ/ in Portugal), stressed one, leads to sandhi, and new affricates will appear ([dVz] → [dz], [dVs] → [ts], [tVs] → [ts]). It is also a feature of a phonologically closely related language, Catalan. This is specially common in Portugal and areas of increasing acceptance of and adhesion to affricate allophones for the denti-alveolar stops, such as Southern and Northeastern Brazil, where palatalization is traditionally much less common, though despite being consistently palatalizing (100% of registers given in the mentioned researches, against 4% of Recife, Pernambuco), it is also common in fluminense, perhaps because of its European-influenced stress-timing affecting nearly all unstressed vowels. Alveolar affricates also appear in loanwords from languages such as Japanese, Italian and German.
Finally, Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese, unlike its Cultivated counterpart, has laminal denti-alveolar nasal [n̻] (same place of articulation of its /n/) as a trisyllable and polysyllable allophone of /d/ after nasal vowels (for example, in the gerund). While uncommon in Europe, many South American and African languages do not possess a phonemic distinction between voiced occlusives and nasal stops (but it is unclear if it was what influenced the development of Brazilian Portuguese). It is as pervasive as the deletion of rhyme /s/ (when the plural is already indicated by the article) and /ʁ/ ~ /ɾ/, but much more stigmatized.
The two rhotic phonemes /ʁ/ and /ɾ/ contrast only between vowels. Elsewhere, their occurrence is predictable by context, with dialectal variations in realization. The rhotic is "hard" (i.e. /ʁ/) in the following circumstances:
The realization of the "hard" rhotic /ʁ/ varies significantly across dialects. The "reference" pronunciation [ʁ] is commonly found in Portugal, although some Portuguese dialects maintain the traditional trill pronunciation [r], as in Spanish. In Brazil, there is significant variation, with many dialects showing two or three allophones.
This restricted variation has prompted several authors to postulate a single rhotic phoneme. Câmara (1953) and Mateus & d'Andrade (2000) see the soft as the unmarked realization and that instances of intervocalic [ʁ] result from gemination and a subsequent deletion rule (i.e. carro /ˈkaɾɾo/ → [ˈkaɾʁu] → [ˈkaʁu]). Similarly, Bonet & Mascaró (1997) argue that the hard is the unmarked realization.
In addition to the phonemic variation between /ʁ/ and /ɾ/ between vowels, up to four allophones of the "merged" phoneme /R/ are found in other positions:
The default hard allophone is some sort of voiceless fricative in most dialects, e.g. [χ] [h] [x] etc., although other variants are also found (e.g. a trill [r] in certain conservative dialects down São Paulo, of Italian-speaking, Spanish-speaking, Arabic-speaking or Slavic-speaking influence, and the other trill [ʀ] in areas of German-speaking, French-speaking and Portuguese-descended influence throughout coastal Brazil down Espírito Santo, most prominently Rio de Janeiro).
The syllable-final allophone shows the greatest variation:
Throughout Brazil, deletion of the word-final rhotic is common, regardless of the "normal" pronunciation of the syllable-final allophone. This pronunciation is particularly common in lower registers, although found in most registers in some areas, e.g. Northeast Brazil. It occurs especially in verbs, which always end in R in their infinitive form; in words other than verbs, the deletion is rarer and seems not to occur in monosyllabic non-verb words, such as mar. Evidence of this allophone is often encountered in writing that attempts to approximate the speech of communities with this pronunciation, e.g. the rhymes in the popular poetry (cordel literature) of the Northeast and phonetic spellings (e.g. amá, sofrê in place of amar, sofrer) in Jorge Amado's novels (set in the Northeast) and Gianfrancesco Guarnieri's play Eles não usam black tie (about favela dwellers in Rio de Janeiro). For example, amar is [ɐˈmaɾ] in European Portuguese, but [aˈmaɾ] ~ [aˈmaɚ] ~ [ɐˈmaʀ] ~ [ɐˈmaχ] ~ [aˈmah] ~ [aˈma] in Brazilian Portuguese. Note that even in dialects that consistently delete word-final rhotics, syllable-final rhotics within a word are still maintained, e.g. dormir [doɣˈmi] [duʁˈmi] [do̞ɦˈmi] etc.
The soft realization is often maintained across word boundaries in close syntactic contexts (e.g. mar azul [ˈmaɾaˈzuw] "blue sea" or por isso [poɾˈisu] [puɾˈisu] "therefore" lit. "because of this")).
"Hard" variants are also found in the syllable coda in conservative non-European non-Brazilian dialects, such as African ones; deletion of the word-final rhotic is also common in African dialects, most especially among second-language speakers.
Portuguese has one of the richest vowel phonologies of all Romance languages, having both oral and nasal vowels, diphthongs, and triphthongs. A phonemic distinction is made between close-mid vowels /e o/ and the open-mid vowels /ɛ ɔ/, unlike in Spanish, though there is a certain amount of vowel alternation. European Portuguese has also two near-central vowels, one of which tends to be elided like the e caduc of French.
Like standard Catalan, Portuguese uses vowel height to contrast stressed syllables with unstressed syllables; the vowels /a ɛ e ɔ o/ tend to be raised to [ɐ e i ɨ o u] (although [ɨ] occurs only in EP) when they are unstressed (see below for details). The dialects of Portugal are characterized by reducing vowels to a greater extent than others. Falling diphthongs are composed of a vowel followed by one of the high vowels /i/ or /u/; although rising diphthongs occur in the language as well, they can be interpreted as hiatuses.
The exact realization of the /ɐ/ varies somewhat amongst dialects. In Portugal, it is pronounced higher than in Brazil, approaching the mid-central vowel [ə] (see charts to the left).
In Brazil, [a] and [ɐ] occur in complementary distribution: [ɐ ~ ə] occurs in final unstressed syllables and in stressed syllables before one of the nasal consonants /m/, /n/, or /ɲ/ followed by another vowel, and [a ~ ɐ] elsewhere. In European Portuguese, the general situation is similar (with [ə] being more prevalent in nearly all unstressed syllables), except that in some regions the two vowels form minimal pairs. Many of these are composed of a stressed word and an unstressed clitic, such as dá "he gives" and da "of the". Others are verb forms of the first conjugation such as pensamos "we think" and pensámos "we thought" (pensamos in Brazil).
Close-mid vowels and open-mid vowels (/e ~ ɛ/ and /o ~ ɔ/) contrast only when they are stressed. In unstressed syllables, they occur in complementary distribution. In Brazilian Portuguese, they are raised to a high or near-high vowel ([i ~ ɪ] and [u ~ ʊ], respectively) after a stressed syllable, or in some accents and in general casual speech, also before it.
European Portuguese possesses a near-close near-back unrounded vowel. It occurs in unstressed syllables such as in pegar [pɯ̽ˈɣaɾ] ('to grip'). There is no standard symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet for this sound. The IPA Handbook transcribes it as /ɯ̽/, but in Portuguese studies /ɨ/ or /ə/ is traditionally used. There are very few minimal pairs between this sound and either /e/ or /ɛ/ (except for monosyllabic clitics), and in relaxed pronunciation it is often elided. Some examples include sê [ˈse] ('be!') vs. sé [ˈsɛ] ('Sé') vs. se [ˈsɯ̽] ('if') and pêlo [ˈpelu] ('hair') vs. pélo [ˈpɛlu] ('I peel off') vs. pelo [ˈpɯ̽lu] ('for the'). However, there is the minimal pair pregar [pɾɯ̽ˈɣaɾ] ('to nail') vs. pregar [pɾɛˈɣaɾ] ('to preach'), the latter stemming from earlier preegar < Latin praedicāre.
Diphthongs are not considered independent phonemes in Portuguese, but knowing them can help with spelling and pronunciation.
|Diphthong||Usual spelling||Example||Meaning||Notes and variants|
|aj||ai, ái||pai||"father"||In BP, it may be realized as [a] before a post-alveolar fricative, making baixo be realized as /'baʃu/.|
|ɐj||ai, ei||plaina||"jointer"||In Brazil it is mostly nasalised to ɐ̃ȷ̃. In central and southern Portugal, it is the standard pronunciation for the "ei" sound.|
|ej||ei, êi||rei||"king"||There are very few minimal pairs for /ej/ and /ɛj/, all of which occur in oxytonic words. In northern Portugal this is the common pronunciation for "ei". In vernacular BP, "ei" may be realized essentially as [e] in some unstressed syllables, and in non-final stressed syllables it is realized as [e] when the following syllable begins with the consonants [ɾ], [ʃ] and [ʒ] (for example, cheirei, deixei and beijei are realized as /ʃe'ɾej/, /de'ʃej/ and /be'ʒej/ respectively); however, the pronunciation /ej/ is often conserved in formalized speech, especially when the speaker is reading out from a text (as is the case of news reporters).|
|ɛj||ei, éi||geleia||"jelly"||In Portugal it only occurs under "éi", in plurals like "anéis".|
|oj||oi||dois||"two"||There are very few minimal pairs for /oj/ and /ɔj/, all of which occur in oxytonic words.|
|uj||ui||fui||"I went"||Usually stressed.|
|aw||au, áu||mau||"bad"||Allophone [ɐu] in Portugal found, for instance, in the contractions ao and aos, but otherwise rare. It also occurs with a nasalized second part for ão.|
|ɐw||au||saudade||"to miss"||EP pronunciation for this word.|
|ew||eu, êu||seu||"his"||There are very few minimal pairs for /eu/ and /ɛu/, all occurring in oxytonic words.|
|iw||iu||viu||"he saw"||Usually stressed.|
|ow||ou||ouro||"gold"||Merges with /o/ in several contexts, particularly in the dialects of central and southern Portugal and in vernacular Brazilian Portuguese.|
|ja||ia||genial||"ingenious"||Conventionally considered hiatus but often pronounced as diphthongs.|
|jɐ||ia,ea||piano, oceano||"piano, ocean"||"|
|jɔ||ió,eó||Piódão, teólogo||"Piódão (village), theologian"||"|
|jo||io,eo||piolho, receoso||"louse, afraid"||"|
|wa||ua||quase||"almost"||As the cases above, this and following cases are considered hiatus (unless they follow q or g) but pronounced as diphthongs.|
The characteristic pronunciation of /l/ as [w] at the end of syllables in Brazilian Portuguese has created new diphthongs: [aw] (sal, "salt"), [ɛw] (mel, "honey"), [iw] (mil, "thousand"), [ow] (polvo, "octopus"), [ɔw] (sol, "sun"), [uw] (sul, "south"); this semivowel [w] is best analyzed as an allophone of the consonant /l/ at the end of syllables.
|Triphthong||Usual spelling||Example||Meaning||Notes and variants|
|wej, wɐj||uei||averiguei||"I verified"||In BP, it is pronounced [wej] while in central EP it is pronounced [wɐj].|
The characteristic pronunciation of /l/ as [w] at the end of syllables in Brazilian Portuguese has created a new triphthong [waw] in words like qual.
Portuguese also has a series of nasalized vowels. Cruz-Ferreira (1995) analyzes European Portuguese with five monophthongs and four diphthongs, all phonemic: /ĩ ẽ ɐ̃ õ ũ ɐ̃ĩ õĩ ũĩ ɐ̃ũ/. Nasal diphthongs occur mostly at the end of words (or followed by a final sibilant), and in a few compounds.
Barbosa & Albano (2004) analyze the nasalized monophthongs of São Paulo Brazilian Portuguese as phonetically nasalized before an archiphoneme /N/ or a heterosyllabic nasal consonant. Nasalized diphthongs in this variant of Brazilian Portuguese are formed by combining [ẽ], [ɐ̃], [õ], or [ũ] with the offglide [ɪ̯̃] (except with /ɐ̃ʊ̃/).
There are also pairs of unrelated words that differ in the height of these vowels, such as besta /e/ "beast" and besta /ɛ/ "crossbow"; mexo /e/ "I move" and mecho /ɛ/ "I highlight (hair)"; molho /o/ "sauce" and molho /ɔ/ "bunch"; corte /ɔ/ "(a) cut" and corte /o/ "court"; meta /e/ "I put (subjunctive)" and meta /ɛ/ "goal"; and (especially in Portugal) para /ɐ/ "for" and para /a/ "he stops". Since most polysyllabic homographs of this sort can be distinguished from context, the orthography does not differentiate them, with the exception of, optionally, fôrma "mold" and forma /ɔ/ "shape".
There are several minimal pairs in which a clitic containing the vowel /ɐ/ contrasts with a monosyllabic stressed word containing /a/: da vs. dá, mas vs. más, a vs. à /a/, etc. In BP, however, these words may be pronounced with /a/ in some environments.
Some isolated vowels (meaning those that are neither nasal nor part of a diphthong) tend to change quality in a fairly predictable way when they become unstressed. In the examples below, the stressed syllable of each word is in boldface. The term "final" should be interpreted here as "at the end of a word or before word-final -s".
|Spelling||Stressed||Unstressed but not final||Unstressed and final|
|a||/a/ or /ɐ/||parto /a/
|/a ~ ɐ/ (BP)||partir||[ɐ ~ ə] (BP)||pensa|
|/ɐ/ [ə] (EP)||/ɐ/ [ə] (EP)|
|e||/e/ or /ɛ/||pega /ɛ/
|/e ~ ɛ/ (BP)||pegar||/ɪ ~ i/ (BP)||move|
|/ɨ/ (EP)||/ɨ/ (EP)|
|o||/o/ or /ɔ/||bola /ɔ/
|/o ~ ɔ/ (BP)||poder||/ʊ ~ u/ (BP)||pato|
|/u/ (EP)||/u/ (EP)|
With a few exceptions mentioned in the previous sections, the vowels /a/ and /ɐ/ occur in complementary distribution when stressed, the latter before nasal consonants followed by a vowel, and the former elsewhere.
In Brazilian Portuguese, the general pattern in the southern and western accents is that the stressed vowels /a, ɐ/, /e, ɛ/, /o, ɔ/ neutralize to /a/, /e/, /o/, respectively, in unstressed syllables, as is common in Romance languages. In final unstressed syllables, however, they are raised to /ɐ/, /i/, /u/. In casual BP (as well in the fluminense dialect), /e, ɛ/, /o, ɔ/ may be raised to /ɪ ~ i/, /ʊ ~ u/ on any unstressed syllable, as long as it has no coda.
European Portuguese has taken this process one step further, raising /a, ɐ/, /e, ɛ/, /o, ɔ/ to /ɐ/, /ɨ/, /u/ in all unstressed syllables. The vowels /ɐ/ and /ɨ/ are also more centralized than their Brazilian counterparts. The three unstressed vowels /ɐ, ɨ, u/ are reduced and often voiceless, and in some cases elided in fast speech.
There are some exceptions to the rules above. For example, /i/ occurs instead of unstressed /e/ or /ɨ/, before another vowel in hiatus (teatro, reúne, peão). Also, /a/, /ɛ/ or /ɔ/ appear in some unstressed syllables, in EP. And there is some dialectal variation in the unstressed sounds: the northern and eastern accents of BP have low vowels in unstressed syllables, /ɛ, ɔ/, instead of the high vowels /e, o/. However, the Brazilian media tends to prefer the southern pronunciation. In any event, the general paradigm is a useful guide for pronunciation and spelling.
Nasal vowels, vowels that belong to falling diphthongs, and the high vowels /i/ and /u/ are not affected by this process, nor is the vowel /o/ when written as the digraph ⟨ou⟩. Nevertheless, casual BP may raise unstressed nasal vowels /ẽ/, /õ/ to [ɪ̃ ~ ĩ], [ʊ̃ ~ ũ], too.
In BP, an epenthetic vowel [i] is sometimes inserted between consonants, to break up consonant clusters that are not native to Portuguese, in learned words and in borrowings. This also happens at the ends of words after consonants that cannot occur word-finally (e.g. /d/, /k/, /f/). For example, psicologia ('psychology') may be pronounced [pisikoloˈʒiɐ]; adverso ('adverse') may be pronounced [adʒiˈvɛχsu]; McDonald's may be pronounced [mɛ̞kiˈdõnɐ̞wdʒis]; and both rock and hockey are typically pronounced [ˈχɔki]. In northern Portugal, an epenthetic [ɨ] may be used instead, [pɨsikuluˈʒiɐ], [ɐðɨˈβɛɾsu], but in southern Portugal there is often no epenthesis, [psikuluˈʒiɐ], [ɐdˈvɛɾsu]. Epenthesis at the end of a word does not normally occur in Portugal.
The native Portuguese consonant clusters, where there is not epenthesis, are sequences of a non-sibilant oral consonant followed by the liquids /ɾ/ or /l/, and the complex consonants /ks, kw, ɡw/. Some examples:
flagrante [flaˈɡɾɐ̃tɨ], complexo [kõˈplɛ.ksu], fixo [ˈfi.ksu] (but not ficção [fikˈsɐ̃w]), latex [latɛks], quatro [ˈkwatɾu], guaxinim [ɡwaʃiˈnĩ]
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2013)|
When two words belonging to the same phrase are pronounced together, or two morphemes are joined in a word, the last sound in the first may be affected by the first sound of the next (sandhi), either coalescing with it, or becoming shorter (a semivowel), or being deleted. This affects especially the sibilant consonants /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, and the unstressed final vowels /ɐ/, /i, ɨ/, /u/.
As was mentioned above, the dialects of Portuguese can be divided into two groups, according to whether syllable-final sibilants are pronounced as postalveolar consonants /ʃ/, /ʒ/ or as alveolar /s/, /z/. At the end of words, the default pronunciation for a sibilant is voiceless, /ʃ, s/, but in connected speech the sibilant is treated as though it were within a word (assimilation):
When two identical sibilants appear in sequence within a word, they reduce to a single consonant. For example, nascer, desço, excesso, exsudar are pronounced with [s] by speakers who use alveolar sibilants at the end of syllables, and disjuntor is pronounced with [ʒ] by speakers who use postalveolars. But if the two sibilants are different they may be pronounced separately, depending on the dialect. Thus, the former speakers will pronounce the last example with [zʒ], whereas the latter speakers will pronounce the first examples with [s] if they are from Brazil or [ʃs] if from Portugal (although in relaxed pronunciation the first sibilant in each pair may be dropped). This applies also to words that are pronounced together in connected speech:
Normally, only the three vowels /ɐ/, /i/ (in BP) or /ɨ/ (in EP), and /u/ occur in unstressed final position. If the next word begins with a similar vowel, they merge with it in connected speech, producing a single vowel, possibly long (crasis). Here, "similar" means that nasalization can be disregarded, and that the two central vowels /a, ɐ/ can be identified with each other. Thus,
In careful speech and in with certain function words, or in some phrase stress conditions (see Mateus and d'Andrade, for details), European Portuguese has a similar process:
Unlike French, for example, Portuguese does not indicate most of these sound changes explicitly in its orthography.
Primary stress may fall on any of the three final syllables of a word, but mostly on the last two. There is a partial correlation between the position of the stress and the final vowel; for example, the final syllable is usually stressed when it contains a nasal phoneme, a diphthong, or a close vowel. The orthography of Portuguese takes advantage of this correlation to minimize the number of diacritics.
Because of the phonetic changes that often affect unstressed vowels, pure lexical stress is less common in Portuguese than in related languages, but there is still a significant number of examples of it:
Tone is not lexically significant in Portuguese, but phrase- and sentence-level tones are important. There are six dynamic tone patterns that affect entire phrases, which indicate the mood and intention of the speaker such as implication, emphasis, reservation, etc. As in most Romance languages, interrogation on yes-no questions is expressed mainly by sharply raising the tone at the end of the sentence.
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