Help with pronunciation of "ei"

I pronounce “ei” in words like meia de leite, trabalhei and sextafeira etc as “ay” which I thought was correct but I often hear it pronounced as “eye”.

Is it one or the other or are both correct? I spend time in the Algarve - is it a regional thing?

Thank you

Going out on a limb and suggesting that there may be a difference in European vs Brazilian in this case. I await the more informed to confirm/correct me on this.

I’m also curious if there was a similar Great Vowel Shift in Portuguese like what occurred in English. If my above assertion is correct, would this shift have anything to do with the difference in pronunciation?

Hi, @debbiegreenwood! Let’s say that this is the default pronunciation of “ei” (I think this is what you’re describing as ‘ay’):

A feira (The fair)

A baleia (The whale)

When you hear other variations of this, you’re probably dealing with regional accents. Parts of the Algarve do have strong accents, for example. Brazilian Portuguese speakers also pronounce this differently, like @stephencanthony said. This is how it could sound in those cases, more or less:

Feira (Brazilian/alternative pronunciation)

Regional variations are totally fine, of course, as long as your choice of pronunciation fits with the local accent. For example, around Coimbra or around Lisbon, you most likely won’t ever hear this ‘alternative’ pronunciation from the locals.

@stephencanthony, reggarding the vowel shift, I’m not well versed on the subject, but from what I remember from school and from what I quickly googled, I don’t think the Portuguese language went through such a thing :slight_smile:

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I’ve heard cerveja pronounced two different ways:

  • cerv-eh-ja (think ‘eh’ in the Canadian sense of ‘Good Day, eh?’)
  • cerv-eye-ja

And this is with two european portuguese study materials (one being PP).

So, why? Is there one that’s preferred? Is there a regional difference?


@stephencanthony, I added your question to this existing topic because the question is actually the same - how to pronounce the E vowel in European Portuguese :slight_smile:

What you’d most likely hear from journalists on TV, which also happens to be just about the base Lisbon accent, is this variation, as demonstrated by Rui:
A cerveja

Other alternative pronunciations are most likely due to regional differences, in which case it’s up to you to choose between following the predominant pronunciation in region X (e.g. if you’re living there or planning to do it), or sticking to what we can consider the “default” pronunciation, which is the one above. For learners, I guess the default is a safer option, hah.