Brazilian Portuguese Language
is the eighth most spoken language and the third most spoken European language
in the world (after English and Spanish) and, together with Spanish, French,
Italian and Romanian, comprise the five modern Romance languages.
Portuguese language has its roots firmly in Europe, most of the world's 210+
million Portuguese speaking people live elsewhere. In fact, non European
speakers of the language outnumber their European cousins by over twenty to
one. Many are surprised to learn that there are more Portuguese speaking people
in South America than those who speak Spanish. But this is understandable when
one realizes that Brazil is larger than the continental United States and has
the largest population of any country in South America.
There are different regional dialects
spoken in Brazil.
Portugal first colonized Brazil in 1500, Tupi or Tupinambá (a language of the
Tupi-Guarani family spoken by natives living on the Brazilian seacoast) was
used along with Portuguese as the general language of the colony.
Tupi was banned by royal decree even though it had already been overshadowed by
Portuguese. However, the Portuguese language in Brazil adopted numerous
geographical names as well as words for plants (including medicinal) and
animals from Tupi and other indigenous languages; among these words are abacaxi
(pineapple), mandioca (manioc), caju (cashew), tatu
(armadillo), piranha (the fish).
Portuguese language in Brazil received new contributions with the influx of the
3.6+ million African slaves forcibly brought to Brazil from 1500 until 1850.
The African influence came primarily from the Lorubá spoken by slaves from
Nigeria. Lorubá contributions to the language primarily involved words
connected with religion and cuisine. From the Angolan Quimbundo language came
such words as caçula (youngest child), moleque (street child) and
18th century, differences between the Brazilian and European Portuguese widened
as Brazil became isolated from the linguistic changes occurring in Portugal as
a result of French influence. Brazilian Portuguese remained loyal to the
pronunciation used at the time of its discovery. However, when Don João (the
Portuguese king) took refuge in Brazil in 1808 (following Napoleon's invasion
of Portugal), his presence helped to reintroduce the Portuguese spoken in
Brazilian cities to the Portuguese of Portugal––especially Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian independence in 1822, Brazilian Portuguese became influenced by
Italian and other European immigrants migrating to the central and southern
parts of the country. These changes reflect the various nationalities settling
in each area.
In the 20th
century, the split between European and Brazilian Portuguese widened as the
result of new technological words and the Brazilian propensity for using
idiomatic expressions. This occurred primarily because European Portuguese
lacked a uniform procedure for adopting new words while the Brazilians eagerly
embraced almost anything that worked. They still do. As a result, many words
took different forms in the two countries. For example, in Portugal it's comboio
(train), autocarro (bus), rato (computer mouse) and ecrã (screen)
while in Brazil it's trem (train), ônibus (bus), mouse
(computer) and tela (screen).
the noun disquete (diskette) is a feminine noun while in Brazil it's
masculine. Portuguese spelling such as facto (fact) and baptismo
(baptism) become fato and batismo in Brazil. Idiomatic
expressions further confuse the issue, for example, the common Brazilian
expression bate-boca (noun = argument, quarrel) assumes the literal,
confusing and nonsensical translation of the verb form beatmouth
different spelling, pronouns and idiomatic expressions, some believe that the
difference between Brazilian and Luso, Continental or European (whichever you
prefer to call it) Portuguese may be in excess of 25%.
Portuguese pronunciation is more consistent throughout Brazil than the
Portuguese spoken in Portugal.
This surprises many people considering the fact
that Brazil is so much larger in both area and population. Even then, almost
all the regional traits and characteristics of European Portuguese are present
either in standard Brazilian Portuguese or in one or more of the regional
there is a lack of scientific data describing the differences between various
regional dialects spoken in Brazil, they cannot be classified in the same
manner as the dialects of European Portuguese.
There is a
proposal to classify Brazilian Portuguese dialects along pronunciation lines, a
method similar to the one used to classify European Portuguese. This method is
based on vowel pronunciation and speech cadence. For example, pegar
(to take) can be pronounced with an open or closed e. Using this
method, it is possible to differentiate somewhat between the two major
Brazilian dialects (northern and southern) as well as their respective sub
What does Wikipedia says about the
Today it is one of the world's major languages, ranked sixth
according to number of native speakers (approximately 250 million). It is the
language with the largest number of speakers in South
America, spoken by nearly all of Brazil's approximately 183 million
population, which amounts to over 51% of the continent's population even though
it is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the
Americas. It is also a major lingua franca in Portugal's former colonial
possessions in Africa. It is the official language of ten countries (see the
table on the right), being co-official with Spanish
and French in Equatorial
Guinea, with Chinese in the Chinese special administrative
region of Macau,
and with Tetum in Timor-Leste,
which makes it official in all continents with the exception of North America,
where it does not have any official status.
Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes once called Portuguese
"the sweet language", while Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac
poetically described it as a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela:
"the last flower of Latium, wild and beautiful".