Note that what I write here about the euro is wrong. See correction below. But I left the wrong part in, to illustrate how difficult it can be for a foreign listener, to know for certain what you really hear.
Judging from how it is written, its Greek origin, and related words like Europa, europeu and europeia, I’d expect the word "euro" to sound like [ewru]. But it does not. During my last visit to Portugal, in the summer of 2002, all I heard was a kind of imitated French pronunciation. But it isn't really French, and it is very un-Portuguese:
For the first syllable, the Portuguese substitute their (what I call) "high schwa", resembling the French sound of eu (although it is probably different acoustically. The syllable is stressed though. French never has the stress on the first syllable, and Portuguese never has this sound in a stressed syllable. Two reasons why this is a rather unfortunate choice. But I am in no position to decide about such things.
The second syllable is an /o/, or perhaps an /O/. These sounds are rare in unstressed syllables, and especially rare in final unstressed syllables, where one would normally expect an /u/ sound. This too makes the pronunciation of the word "euro" very un-Portuguese.
In the plural, an
-s is added, with the normal Portuguese
pronunciations, depending on what sound follows.
To my surprise, this is condoned by the
I thought the EU recommended to use "euro" in singular and plural, in all languages, but they don't or I can't find references to that.
One hundredth of a euro is not called
in Portugal, but "cêntimo".
This is understandable, because a word "cent" would be unpronounceable in
Portuguese, unlike "cente". "Cento" is no candidate because it already
Here it is stated that "A legislação portuguesa considera "cent" como abreviatura de cêntimo", Decreto-Lei n.º 138/98, de 6 de Maio de 1998.
Later addition, October 2002: I received some remarks from a native speaker of European Portuguese, and he convinced me that I have misheard it, so what I wrote above about the pronunciation of the word "euro" is incorrect.
The pronunciation /euru/ which I proposed is very unnatural, un-Portuguese and difficult. That's probably due to the presence of an /u/ on both sides of the /r/. Even as a non-native speaker I can feel and imagine this difficulty, and the unnatural nature of such a pronunciation.
What I heard when in Portugal was most probably /eurO/, as if the word were written "euró". This is in accordance with the existing pronunciation of the name "Europa". That I misheard "euro" may be due to a certain "flattening" effect of the /r/ on the /eu/, and to the relative shortness of the unstressed /eu/, which may also reduce the audible sound change in time, which is normally present in diphthongs.
Misinterpreting which syllable is stressed may be due to the fact that in most European languages, including Portuguese and my own Dutch, stress is not only dynamic in nature (loudness), but is also heavily tied to intonation (melody, pitch). Intonation patterns can be quite different between languages, and so can mislead a listener who has experienced insufficient exposure to the language.
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