Brazilian Portuguese facts and learning resources


No, we don’t speak Spanish in Brazil. Neither do we speak Brazilian (there is no such a language, by the way). We speak Portuguese. No, not the same as in Portugal (European Portuguese). Here, we speak a variant, Brazilian Portuguese. Just like American English is a variant of British English. Get it?

And just like the US speaks English due to Britain’s influence during its settlement, Brazil speaks Portuguese because, obviously or not, the Portuguese colonized it. For some time, Portuguese coexisted with the lingua franca spoken by Jesuit missionaries, based on Amerindian languages. With the expansion of the colonization and the increasing immigration of Portuguese people though, Portuguese affirmed itself as the national language.

Portuguese is a Romance language (just like Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian, the most widely spoken ones) spoken by over 200 million people worldwide (besides Brazil and Portugal, seven other countries also have Portuguese as their official language – Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Macau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe).

Our alphabet has 23 letters (plus three foreign ones: W, Y and Z). Additional characters (accented vowels and cedilla): á, à, ã, â, é, ê, í, ó, õ, ô, ú, ç. Alphabet pronunciation: á bê cê dê é efe gê agá i jota ele eme ene ó pê quê erre esse tê u vê xis zê.

Although both variants (European and Brazilian) differ in many aspects, from pronunciation to vocabulary, an orthographic agreement (spelling reform) was reached between both countries in order to create a single common orthography. In Brazil, it went into effect in 2009.

Why should you consider learning Portuguese?

  • It is the 6th most widely spoken language in the world
  • The number of Portuguese speakers is on the rise
  • Trade is increasing between Brazil and the rest of the world
  • Brazil will host the World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016

Sources and resources
The differences between English and Portuguese
Wikipedia: Portuguese language
Wikipedia: Brazilian Portuguese

Resources for learning Portuguese
BBC Languages
eLanguage School
Learn Portuguese Now
Portuguese Language Guide
Brazilian Portuguese phrasebook (scroll down to “Phrase list” for a list of useful sentences you can learn in Portuguese)
Brazilian Portuguese Proficiency Test (test for self-evaluation purposes of your knowledge level of the language)
BrazilianPodClass (free podcasts on iTunes)
Learn Brazilian Portuguese – The Guardian
Language Guide (pronunciation in many languages)

Hope you find this post useful. Would you suggest any other resources?

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