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Uruguayan Portuguese
português uruguaio
Native toNorth-eastern Uruguay, near Brazilian border
Native speakers
30,000 (2016)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Uruguayan Portuguese (português uruguaio, [poɾtuˈɣes uɾuˈɣwajo]), also known as fronteiriço[2] ([fɾõteˈɾiso]) and riverense, and referred to by its speakers as portunhol[3] (local pronunciation: [poɾtuˈɲɔl]), is a variety of Portuguese in South America with heavy influence from Rioplatense Spanish. It is spoken in north-eastern Uruguay, near the Brazilian border, mainly in the region of the twin cities of Rivera (Uruguay) and Santana do Livramento (Brazil). This section of the frontier is called "Peace Border" (Portuguese: Fronteira da Paz; Spanish: Frontera de la Paz), because there is no legal obstacle to crossing the border between the two countries.

The varieties of Uruguayan Portuguese share many similarities with the countryside dialects of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, such as the denasalization of final unstressed nasal vowels, replacement of lateral palatal /ʎ/ with semivowel /j/, no raising of final unstressed /e/, alveolar trill /r/ instead of the guttural R, and lateral realization of coda /l/ instead of L-vocalization. The first two features are rare among accents of Portuguese, whereas L-vocalization is the norm in Brazil but not in other countries.[4]

Recent changes in Uruguayan Portuguese include the urbanization of this variety, acquiring characteristics from urban Brazilian Portuguese such as a distinction between /ʎ/ and /j/, affrication of /t/ and /d/ before /i/ and /ĩ/, and other features of Brazilian broadcast media.[5]


The origin of Portuguese in Uruguay can be traced back to the time of the dominion of the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, and the Empire of Brazil. In those times, the ownership of those lands was not very well defined, passing back and forth from the hands of one crown to the other. Before its independence after the Cisplatine War in 1828, Uruguay was one of the provinces of the Empire of Brazil.

Portuguese was the only language spoken throughout northern Uruguay until the end of the 19th century. To assure the homogeneity of the newly formed country, the government made an effort to impose the Spanish language into lusophone communities through educational policies and language planning, and bilingualism became widespread and diglossic.[6]


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Uruguayan Portuguese (IPA) Pronunciation (IPA) Spanish (Rioplatense dialect) Brazilian Portuguese English
a [ˈpapa] papa batata potato
[kataˈɾata] catarata catarata / queda d'água waterfall
e [ˈpeʃe] pez peixe fish
[deterˈχente] detergente detergente detergent
i [ˈsisko] basura lixo garbage
[ˈniɲo] nido ninho nest
j [sja] cenar jantar/cear to have dinner
o [onˈtonte] anteayer anteontem day before yesterday
ojo] ojo olho eye
[ˈposo] pozo poço well
u uɾuˈɾu] triste, melancólico triste, melancólico/jururu sad, melancholic
[nu] en el no/em in the (m.)
w [aˈkwa] ladrar latir/ladrar to bark
ɛ [tɛ] chá tea
[pɛl] piel pele skin
[ˈvɛja] vieja velha old (f.)
ɔ [fɔˈfɔka] chisme fofoca gossip
[ˈpɔso] puedo posso (I) can
ã [maˈsã] manzana maçã apple
[lã] lana wool
[sã] sana (adj.) healthy (f.)
[ˈkãʃa] cancha campo desportivo sports ground
[ˈpsaw̃] piensan pensam (they) think
ĩ [ĩˈtõse] entonces então then
õ [ɡarˈsõ] mozo (de bar o restaurante) garçom/empregado de mesa waiter (bar, restaurant)
[tõ] tono tom tone
[ĩˈtõse] entonces então then
ũ [ũ] uno um one (m.)
[kũˈtiɣo] contigo contigo with you
[niˈɲũa] ninguna nenhuma no one (f.)
[ma] mano mão hand


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See also


  1. ^ Portugues at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b "Fronteiriço -".
  3. ^ Lipski (2006:7)
  4. ^ Carvalho (2004:131)
  5. ^ Carvalho (2004:144)
  6. ^ Carvalho (2004:130)