Caipira dialect

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Caipira dialect
Pronunciation [kajˈpiɽɐ]
Native to Rural areas of São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Minas Gerais, Paraná
Native speakers
Unknown. There are about 6 millions rural inhabitants in the linguistic area. (date missing)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
Linguasphere 51-AAA-am
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Caipira (Portuguese pronunciation: [kajˈpiɾɐ]; (Old Tupi ka'apir or kaa-pira, which means "bush cutter") is a Brazilian Portuguese dialect spoken in the states of São Paulo and neighboring areas in Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Minas Gerais, part of Paraná, and Santa Catarina.


The formation of caipira dialect began with the arrival of the Portuguese in São Vicente in the sixteenth century. Ongoing research points several influences, such as Galician-Portuguese, represented in some archaic aspects of the dialect, and the língua geral paulista, a Tupian Portuguese-like creole codified by the Jesuits.[2] The westward colonial expansion by the Bandeirantes expedition spread the dialect throughout a dialect and cultural continuum called Paulistania[3] in the provinces of São Paulo, Mato Grosso (later, Mato Grosso do Sulweans Rondônia depending on one's viewpoint), Goiás (with the Federal District), and Minas Gerais.

In 1920s the scholar Amadeu Amaral published a grammar and predicted the imininent dialect death in face of urbanization and the coming mass immigration wave due to coffee monoculture.[4] However, the dialect survived in rural subculture, with music, folk stories (causos), and substratum in city-dwellers' speech, recorded by folklorists and linguists.


Although the caipira accent originated in the state of São Paulo, the middle and upper class sociolect of the state capital is now a very different variety closer to standard Portuguese but with some remotely Italian-influenced elements, and working-class paulistanos may sound somewhat like caipira to people of other parts of Brazil, such as Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. Caipira is spoken mostly in the countryside.


Phonetically, the most important differences in comparison with standard Brazilian Portuguese are the postalveolar or retroflex approximants ([ɹ̠ ~ ɻ]) for ⟨r⟩ as allophone of European and paulistano /ɾ/ in the syllable coda (/ʁ/ in the syllable coda for most Brazilian dialects) and the merger of /ʎ/ (written ⟨lh⟩ in Portuguese) into the semivowel [j], as in Spanish yeísmo. Coda ⟨l⟩ is frequently modified into [ɹ̠ ~ ɻ], instead of the [u̯ ~ ʊ̯] used in most of Brazil.

The most common coda ar allophones of caipira is not the same of those in urban areas of hinterland São Paulo and some speakers of the capital and the coast, alveolar approximant [ɹ] and r-colored vowel. Some caipira speakers may use those instead, and others may not merge /ʎ/ into [j] or may vocalize their ells. Rarer pronunciations include using approximants for all instances in which European speakers of Portuguese have /ɾ/, including the intervocallic and post-consonantal ones (like in American English)>or using a palatal approximant [j] instead of a rhotic approximant. That, while more common in the caipira area by its particular phonology, is more often associated with speech-language pathology.

There are other important changes like these:

Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo Caipira English
Spelling Pronunciation (IPA) Pronunciation spelling Pronunciation (IPA)
flor [ˈfloʁ ~ ˈflo(ɾ)] frô, flô [ˈfɾo ~ ˈflo] flower
falso [ˈfau̯su ~ ˈfaʊ̯sʊ] farso [ˈfaɻsʊ] false
melhor [me̞ˈʎɔχ ~ mɪˈʎɔ(ɾ)] mió, mior [miˈjɔ ~ miˈɔɻ] better
voar [vuˈaʁ ~ vʊˈa(ɾ)] avuá [ɐ̞vʊˈa] to fly
por quê? [puʀˈke ~ poɾˈke] pur quê? [puɻˈke ~ pʊɻˈke] why?
você [voˈse] ocê, cê [o̞ˈse ~ se] you (informal)
ganhamos [ɡɐ̃ˈ ȷ̃ɐ̃muɕ ~ ɡɐˈ ȷ̃ɐ̃mʊs] ganhemo [ɡɐ̃ˈ ȷ̃ẽ̞mʊ] we won
chegamos [ɕⁱˈɡɐ̃muɕ ~ ɕeˈɡɐ̃mʊs] cheguemo [ɕɛˈɡẽ̞mʊ] we came
voltamos [vo̞u̯ˈtɐ̃muɕ ~ voːˈtɐ̃mʊs] vortemo [vo̞ɻˈtẽ̞mʊ] we came back
bêbado [ˈbeβɐdu ~ ˈbebadʊ] beudo [ˈbeʊ̯dʊ] drunk

Morphology and syntax

There are some significant differences in caipira morphology and syntax:

  • The negative adverb não has distinct strong and weak forms: não [nɐ̃ʊ̯̃] in short replies, and num [nʊ̃] for negative phrases, but it is by no means restricted to the caipira area and is in the colloquial speech of Rio de Janeiro, for example.
  • In the plural, only the article or pronoun is inflected, and the adjective often remains uninflected: São Paulo city's Portuguese: essas coisas bonitas [ˈɛsɐsˈ koi̯zɐz bʊˈn̠ʲitɐs] "those beautiful things" (those-PL beautiful-PL thing-PL) ↔ caipira: essas coisa bonita [ˈ(ɛ)sɐsˈ koi̯zɐ bʊˈn̠ʲitɐ] (those-PL beautiful- thing-) but it is by no means restricted to the caipira area and is a general trait of the so-called Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese.

Caipira is the Brazilian dialect by far most influenced by the línguas gerais, which is said to be a recent decreolization of them into a more standard Brazilian Portuguese. Nevertheless, the decreolization was successful, and despite all the differences, a speaker of Vernacular Brazilian Portuguese of other regions has no difficulty in understanding caipira at all, but foreigners who learned to deal only with standard lusitanizing Brazilian Portuguese may have as much difficulty with caipira as they would have with other colloquial and vernacular registers of the language.


There is no standard orthography, and Brazilians are taught only the standard variant when learning Portuguese in schools (among the reasons why the dialect was often thought of as endangered in the course of socio-economic development of the country). A nonstandard orthography intended to convey caipira pronunciation is featured prominently in the popular children's comic book Chico Bento, in which some characters speak in it.

See also


  1. 2010 Census
  2. Ataliba T. de Castilho (Org. 2007). História do Português Paulista. Série Estudos - Vol. I. São Paulo: Setor de Publicações do IEL / Unicamp
  3. Ribeiro, Darcy. Os Brasileiros
  4. Amaral, Amadeu . O Dialeto Caipira. São Paulo: Casa Editora "O livro", 1920.
  • Garcia, Rosicleide Rodrigues. Para o estudo da formação e expansão do dialeto caipira em Capivari. São Paulo: USP, 2009.
  • Pires, Cornélio . Conversas ao pé do fogo - IMESP, edição fac-similar, 1984.
  • Rodrigues, Ada Natal.O Dialeto Caipira na Região de Piracicaba , Editora Ática, 1974.

External links