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Brazilian Portuguese Language Portuguese 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. While the 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. When 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. In 1757, 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). The 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 samba. During the 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. Following 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). In Portugal, 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 beat mouth in Portugal. With 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%. Brazilian 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 Brazilian dialects. Because 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 dialect.

What does Wikipedia says about the Portuguese language: Portuguese

(português (help·info) or língua portuguesa) is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia (Spain) and northern Portugal from the Latin spoken by romanized Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula (namely the Gallaeci , the Lusitanians , the Celtici and the Conii) about 2000 years ago. It spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial and commercial empire (1415–1999) which spanned from Brazil in the Americas to Goa in India and Macau in China. During that time, many creole languages based on Portuguese also appeared around the world, especially in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

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".