The Brazilian Portuguese versus Portugal Portuguese battle.
If you search for sites to learn Portuguese online, you’ll find a lot of options but there’s one thing you’ll definitely notice: most of these sites and information are related to Brazilian Portuguese instead of European Portuguese. Even though Portuguese has its origins in Europe, there are way more Portuguese speakers in Brazil alone than anywhere else and that makes its accent the most spoken. To illustrate this, let’s look at the population of Rio de Janeiro compared to Portugal: the Brazilian city has 12 million citizens alone while the whole country of Portugal has only 10 million.
Brazilian Portuguese is a set of dialects of the Portuguese language used mostly in Brazil. It is spoken by virtually all of the 205 million inhabitants of Brazil. Brazilian linguists estimate that around 1,200 Brazilian native languages have disappeared since the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. Nowadays, highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems in this area.
Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader Getulio VARGAS rose to power in 1930. By far the largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil underwent more than a half century of populist and military government until 1985, when the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers. Brazil continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America’s leading economic power and a regional leader, one of the first in the area to begin an economic recovery. Highly unequal income distribution and crime remain pressing problems.
Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 S, 55 00 W
Map references: South America
Area:total: 8,514,877 sq km
Country area comparison to the world: 5
Land: 8,459,417 sq km
Water: 55,460 sq km
Note: includes Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, Atol das Rocas, Ilha da Trindade, IlhasMartin Vaz, and Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo.
Area—comparative: slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries:total: 16,885 km
Border countries: Argentina 1,261 km, Bolivia 3,423 km, Colombia 1,644 km, French Guiana730 km, Guyana 1,606 km, Paraguay 1,365 km, Peru 2,995 km, Suriname 593 km, Uruguay 1,068km, Venezuela 2,200 km.
Population: 202,656,788 (July 2014 est.)
Country population comparison to the world: 6
0-14 years: 23.8% (male 24,534,129/female 23,606,332)
15-24 years: 16.5% (male 16,993,708/female 16,521,057)
25-54 years: 43.7% (male 43,910,790/female 44,674,915)
55-64 years: 7.6% (male 8,067,022/female 9,036,519)
65 years and over: 7.3% (male 6,507,069/female 8,805,247) (2014 est.)
State-run Radiobras operates a radio and a TV network.
More than 1,000 radio stations and more than 100 TV channels operating —mostly privately owned; private media ownership highly concentrated.
Disputes—international: uncontested boundary dispute between Brazil and Uruguay over Braziliera/Brasiliera Island in the Quarai/Cuareim River leaves the tripoint with Argentina in question; smuggling of firearms and narcotics continues to be an issue along the Uruguay-Brazil border; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics and paramilitary activities penetrate Brazil’s border region with Venezuela.
Illicit drugs: second-largest consumer of cocaine in the world; illicit producer of cannabis; trace amounts of coca cultivation in the Amazon region, used for domestic consumption; government has a large-scale eradication program to control cannabis; important transshipment country for Bolivian, Colombian, and Peruvian cocaine headed for Europe; also used by traffickers as a way station for narcotics air trans shipments between Peru and Colombia; upsurge in drug-related violence and weapons smuggling; important market for Colombian, Bolivian, and Peruvian cocaine;illicit narcotics proceeds are often laundered through the financial system; significant illicit financial activity in the Tri-Border Area.
(End of CIA Factbook text.)
About the language.
The written language taught in Brazilian schools has historically been based by law on the standard of Portugal, and until the 19th century, Portuguese writers often were regarded as models by some Brazilian authors and university professors. However, this aspiration to unity was severely weakened in the 20th century by nationalist movements in literature and the arts, which awakened in many Brazilians a desire for a national style uninfluenced by the standards of Portugal. Modern Brazilian Portuguese has been highly influenced by other languages introduced by immigrants through the past century, specifically by German, Italian and Japanese immigrants. This high intake of immigrants not only caused the incorporation and/or adaptation of many words and expressions from their native language into local language, but also created specific dialects, such as the German Hunsrückisch dialect in the South of Brazil. This is also one of the main reasons why Brazilian Portuguese sounds so different from other Portuguese varieties.
The language family can be displayed like this:
Where is Portuguese spoken? How many people speak Portuguese?
It might be hard for you to believe but, the truth is, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken native language in the world. The amount of native Portuguese speakers is estimated to be around 220 million people. Portuguese is spoken in ten different territories in four continents including:
Sao Tome and Principe
Let’s investigate some of the differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese.
Some people find Brazilian Portuguese to be phonetically pleasing to the ear with its open vowels, but think that European Portuguese sounds somewhat mumbled and doughy. Brazilian accents have a lilting and strong cadence to foreign ears, making BP initially easier to learn and understand. Because of these differences in pronunciation, it might take a little more time to get used to the accent on the other side of the Atlantic.
Grammar and spelling
Some words are spelled differently. For instance, reception in EP is “receção”, whereas BP adds an audible p to the spelling of “recepção”. This is applicable to words where the letter p is audible in BP and silent in EP.
Brazilians are also creative with their use of Portuguese, turning some nouns into verbs. To congratulate requires the Portuguese phrase — “dar os parabéns” — but Brazilians sometimes also condense the expression into one verb – “parabenizar”.
Another interesting fact is the assimilation of foreign words into BP written with a phonetic twist. Media (as in mass media) is “mídia” in BP and “media” in EP; BP takes the word from American English and ignores its Latin roots. EP adopts it from Latin and keeps the original spelling. Generally speaking, European Portuguese is mostly resistant to change and precious about assimilating foreign words.
Formal and informal speech
In Brazil, you can address most people with “você” in informal contexts, but it works in some formal situations as well — bringing it closer to the classless universality of you in the English language. In Portugal, however, “tu” is used exclusively for friends, family and in casual situations.
Formal and informal speech can be very confusing for a Brazilian immigrant in Portugal. If you confuse “tu” with “você” in EP, you will fail to get on people’s good graces and will come off as impolite, rude and even aggressive. It’s even more confusing when you understand that the Portuguese don’t utter “você” explicitly: it sounds crude, so they remove the pronoun and conjugate the verb using the third person singular.
Many of these differences are dumbfounding to speakers from different continents and may occasionally lead to a communication breakdown, but if you remain curious and aren’t afraid to ask questions you will quickly resolve any misunderstandings. Portuguese and Brazilians still speak the same language, but it has evolved in slightly different ways over the years due to cultural and historical differences.
So which kind of Portuguese should I choose to learn?
Think about where you will be working, studying or traveling.
Know that it 's still the same language, so you will be able to read books published in both countries and generally communicate with people with some or a little effort.
The Brazilians themselves, speak about their language like this (we found this text in a Brazilian newspaper):
Brazil, as with Portugal and seven other countries spread through Africa and Asia, has Portuguese as its official tongue. However, our language is by no means the same as that of our colonizers. Although differences are mainly observed in pronunciation, the structure of the Portuguese language evolved differently in Brazil than it did in Portugal.
These differences are marked enough that many linguists defend Brazilian Portuguese as a language of its own. “The struggle for the recognition of our linguistic autonomy is, above all, a political issue,” says Marcos Bagno, a linguist of the University of Brasília. “The Brazilian way of speaking and writing remains to be seen as a ‘deviation’ or a ‘misuse’ of proper Portuguese. While they are similar, they are by no means the same.”
When contemplating the discrepancies between language use in Brazil and Portugal, it might be more accurate to compare it to the relationship between the French of France and French of Quebec, rather than U.S. and UK English.
Indigenous and African languages had an enormous influence on the development of Brazilian Portuguese. When Brazil gained its independence from Portugal in 1822, 1.5 million of Brazil’s 3.5 million people were slaves of African descent. Today, roughly 3,000 Brazilian Portuguese words have African roots.
While there’s no doubt that African languages impacted our lexicon, their influence on grammar is heavily debated. Many linguists have downplayed these languages’ impact over the years, despite contradictory research.
In a 2014 article, scholars Juanito Avelar and Charlotte Galves, from the University of Campinas, have analyzed such influences. They identified present-day traces of indigenous African languages in Brazil – something that also occurs in African Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Angola or Mozambique, but not in Portugal.
Languages spoken by native Brazilian tribes have also made their mark. Several words and expressions have been incorporated into Brazilian Portuguese, although colonization decimated most native languages. Brazilian linguists estimate that around 1,200 Brazilian native languages have disappeared since the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500.
Moreover, 87 percent of indigenous languages in Brazil risk disappearing in upcoming decades due to their lack of speakers. These languages are spoken by groups of fewer than 10,000 people each.
The Amazonian General Language.
Though Portuguese is Brazil’s official language and is widely spoken by nearly the entire population, this was by no means always the case. The language of the Portuguese colonizers was only established as the colony’s official tongue in 1758 – over 250 years after the first settlers had arrived on our shores.
Until the 18th century, the most-widely spoken language in our country was actually indigenous. The “general language,” or Nheengatu, was a supra-ethnic language of the Tupi-Guarani family and spoken by both whites and blacks.
There were two variations of this “general language” during Colonial Brazil one from the Amazon, and one from São Paulo. The latter disappeared during the 18th century – but not without leaving a profound mark on the Portuguese language spoken throughout the colony. Meanwhile, the Amazonian general language remained the most-widely spoken language in Northern Brazil until the rubber boom in the late 19th century.
Two factors contributed to the spread of the general language: the miscegenation between colonizers and indigenous populations, and the enslavement of many tribes. In São Paulo, tribes used to accept foreigners into their families by marrying them to a young woman of the tribe.
Between the 16th and the 18th century, Jesuit missionaries and Portuguese settlers staged a dispute over the control of indigenous populations. At first, the Jesuits fared better as they spoke the general language. Over time, though, the Portuguese realized that learning the local supra-ethnic language would give them the upper hand.
The Portuguese Crown itself began encouraging the spread of the general language. In 1689, it decided that the Jesuits would teach Nheengatu not only to indigenous peoples, but also to the sons of the settlers.
With time, however, the predominance of the Nheengatu came to be seen as a nuisance. Representatives of the crown in the colony were forced to rely on translators, which created hurdles for managing their territories. To make matters worse, the general language was linked to the Jesuits, and their relationship with the Crown began to sour. In 1759, the missionaries were expelled from the colonies, and the use of any branch of the Tupi-Guarani language family was strictly forbidden.
The general language is still spoken in parts of the Amazon by roughly 30,000 people of indigenous descent. A handful of cities have declared the Nheengatu an official language, and scholars at the University of São Paulo still teach it – and are fighting to help spread it among tribes, reaffirming their native origins.
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