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The Difference in the Portuguese Language Around the World

Portuguese is a language that connects people from different parts of the globe, learning Portuguese from Brasil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Portugal, etc. will open the doors to a new linguistic world.

Neil Pacheco
Neil Pacheco
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I have taught Portuguese for the last four years to different students, and I always come across students asking me which Portuguese I teach? My answer is always European Portuguese although I am not European, I am a native Portuguese speaker from Angola, I was born and raised in Luanda, Angola, where it is the second most populated lusophone country in the world after Brazil.

The First Portugueses

According to the Britannica website in their article “The beginning of European Activity,” the first Portuguese arrived in Africa in the 1460s. They fought kingdoms and established colonies. Later in the 1500s, they arrived in South America and in some parts of Asia and did the same, intentionally it created a new way of living for the native people of these colonies, making Portugal as one of the biggest empires in the world, with overseas states in five continents. With the aim to become an autonomous state, on 7th July 1822, Brasil declared independence from Portugal, becoming the first self-governed Portuguese state outside of Europe. More than 100 years later, in the 1960s and 1970s, African and Asian countries followed, gaining their independence from Portugal. Due to the fall of fascism and the fight for liberation in the colonies, Angola was the last country to detach from Portugal.

Types of the Portuguese Language

Brasilian Portuguese

The early separation of Brazil from the Portuguese empire, the slave traffic, and the arrival of migrants from Europe and Asia, contributed a lot to the development of what is known as Brazilian or South American Portuguese, the diversity of languages spoken in Brasil in the colonial to the post-independence period, impacted the pronunciation as well as the use of some words that can sound strange to another Portuguese speaker, making the Brazilian Portuguese unique and different from the one spoken in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Brazilian Portuguese is the most popular compared to the European Portuguese. It is comprised of different accents of different regions, being the Carioca Portuguese (Portuguese from Rio) is the closest to the European Portuguese.

African Portuguese

The PALOPS the organization of Portuese speaking countries in Africa, is comprised by Angola, Cabo Verde, Guine Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Principe, and Guine Equatorial where Portuguese is a co-official Language with spanish, the history of the Portuguese Language in these countries does not differ from the one in Brasil, portuguese was impleted during colonial era, to facilitate the trade between natives and the Europeans, and later on, it became a lingua franca, used to connect people from different tribes, different from Brasil, the portuguese language in Africa always followed the standards of the European Portuguese, there was no creation of an African Portuguese grammer, and the European Portuguese was and is the only one recognized in the schools and Universities, this happened because of the proximity these countries have with Portugal due to the colonization, and consumption of the potuguese media (music, tv and books), many of this countries such as Angola and Mozambique after gaining independence from Portugal, they had a civil war, that left these countries devastated and with a very limited national production and technology, Brasil with its stable governance, created many products, such as books, telenovelas, cartoons, music etc. and exported to these countries, all these factors contribuited to the way the language is spoken in Africa, many would follow the rules of the portuguese grammer when it comes to have a formal conversation, and the Brazilian Portuguese for a informal conversation, with no changes on the pronounciation

Angola is the country with the second-highest Portuguese-speaking community in the world, with more than 70% of its population having Portuguese as their native language. In the 70s, the  Angolan government adopted Portuguese as the official language, and it was institutionalized even after the country gained independence from Portugal. The Portuguese spoken in Angola is made with loan words from the different Bantu languages in the country. Some would call these words “calão” (slang) because they did not originate in the Portuguese of Portugal, which is the official language recognized in Angola.

Most of the lusophone countries in Africa adopted the rules of the European Portuguese grammar, although the pronunciation might sound different because in some cases, Portuguese is used as the second language, and I suggest that the native language can impact the way some people pronounce certain words.

Asian Portuguese

Asian Portuguese is believed to be spoken by less than a hundred thousand people. Timor Leste (East Timor) is the only country where Portuguese is one of the Official Languages, after gaining Independence from Indonesia, Timor Leste has been promoting the use of the language that was once banned by the Indonesian Government. There is also a small minority of Portuguese speakers in India, concretely in Goa, where it used to be a Portuguese colony, and in China in the special administrative region of Macau where Portuguese is also a Co-official Language, it is also believed to have some minority groups in Japan and Malaysia.

The difference in the Portuguese Spoken Language Around the World

Portuguese is a language that connects people from different parts of the globe, learning Portuguese from Brasil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Portugal, etc. will open the doors to a new linguistic world made with the fantastic discovery of an ancient and beautiful language and culture that Portuguese is, the new orthographic agreement signed by the members of, the Organization of Portuguese Speaking Country in the world, in 2009, came to unify the language and break the barriers of the Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese, the truth is as a human being as we are we will always look for ways to simplify the communication, the effort is good, however, the implementation might take some time, my advice as a Portuguese teacher is, you can learn any Portuguese from anywhere, while you are learning, always expose yourself to different accents because two people can come from the same country with a very different accent, just like other languages the difference in Portuguese spoken in different countries is in the pronunciation in certain words.

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Neil Pacheco

I am a native Portuguese speaker and I speak English fluently. I am passionate about languages and teaching. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures.

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