Your question caught my eye, as I am a native Portuguese speaker!
Joćo, or John, is a very tricky name to pronounce. But let?s get to
it. I do believe I can help!
Let?s start with the first letter. In Portuguese, unlike Spanish, the
?J? is pronounced in a way similar (but not exactly) to how we say it
in English. In English, we really ?hit? the ?J? sound in words like
jug, jar, and, yes, even John. In Portuguese, the ?J? is pronounced in
a slightly softer way (your tongue sort of hits the back of your teeth
when you pronounce it in English, but the Portuguese pronunciation has
you holding your tongue behind your teeth for a little bit longer) and
sounds like the first sound you hear in the name Zsa Zsa (as in
Gabor). When you say Zsa Zsa?s name, just say the ?Zs? part out loud
(don?t pronounce the ?a?) and keep making that sound. You?ve just said
the Portuguese ?J? sound. (You should see me sitting here at my
computer and saying these sounds over and over again and thinking
about how to spell them!)
You go right into the next sound in ?Joćo.? Keep making that ?Zs? (as
in Zsa Zsa) sound and go right into a ?wuh? sound (like the very first
?wuh? sound in the word ?wonder?). So now you have Zs + wuh . . .
. . . and from those sounds, you go right into the next sound (like a
cute phonetic train). Your next sound sort of starts in the middle of
that ?wuh? sound (and here?s where it gets nasally?the tilde over the
?a? is your clue for that)?and goes right into a VERY nasally ?ow?
sound that almost sounds like the ?ow? in the English word ?gown.? You
really open your mouth wider for that ?ow? part. And you sort of
swallow the ?w? so that you hardly hear it. Your lips form the ?w? but
you don?t really pronounce it. It?s sort of how you wrap up the word
nicely, if that makes any sense. See? This is very tricky!
So, you put it all together (like cars of a train) and you?ve got ?Zs?
(as in Zsa Zsa) + ?wuh? (as in wonder) + ?ow? (as in gown). Zs + wuh +
Here is a link from Merriam Webster with an audio sound for you to
hear to help you have an idea how to pronounce it:
They list the pronunciation as: zhwaun (the n should be a superscripted n).
Wow, as tricky as this has been to write, this is kind of fun! Thank
you for such an enjoyable question! If you have need of further
clarification, please let me know how I can help! Obrigada!
Boquinha-ga (my name means ?little mouth? in Portuguese)
Link from my good colleague thx1138-ga (Obrigada!)