Pronouncing Maracanã in Preparation for the 2014 World Cup


As you might be aware, Brazil is hosting A Copa do Mundo de 2014the 2014 World Cup, and then As Olimpíadas de 2016, the 2016 Olympic Games. In Brazil the beautiful game is known as futebol, football, and one of the most famous estádios de futebol do mundo, soccer stadiums in the world, is the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

Built to host the 1950 FIFA World Cup, in which Brazil was devastatingly beaten 2×1 by Uruguay in the decisive final game, Maracanã derives its name from a river that used to run in the vicinity. The stadium today seats 78,838 torcedores, supporters, making it the largest in Brazil and South America.

Because people will be repeating the name of this stadium many times, let’s take some time to practice how to pronounce it.

There are two challenges in pronouncing Maracanã. First, let’s tackle the [r].

The [r] that comes between vowels is a voiced flap, similar to the result you get when pronouncing [d] in ladder. There is no such sound in English, so read the examples below then click on the link to hear and repeat other words besides Maracanã with a similar [r].

Examples: tira (strap), mora (live), claro (clear), Araraquara (name of a city in the state of São Paulo.)

The second challenge is the nasal [ã].

This nasal vowel sounds like a longer uh in English, such as you’d use to ask, uhhhhh?

Other examples are maçã (apple), hortelã (mint), irmã (sister), (wool).

Another word you will be hearing a lot is GOL (goal)!  But that one is easy to pronounce, just remember to scream it and make it last many seconds: goooooooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllll!

For more pronunciation tips on the nasal [ã] and [ão] go to Lesson 1 of the Essential Portuguese and, remember, you have a full pronunciation guide in the reference section at the back of the book.