Portuguese. It’s one of the romance languages and is the official language in Brazil and in Portugal, Mozambique, Macau, Cape Verde, Angola, East Timor, São Tomé and Principe and Guinea-Bissau. In Equatorial Guinea, East Timor and Macau, Portuguese is one of their official languages. It is also spoken by some residents in Malacca (Malaysia) and in Diu, Daman and Goa (India).
Portuguese is a beautiful language, more lyrical in tone than Spanish. As Miguel de Cervantes puts it, Portuguese is a language that is gracious and sweet, and that is coming from a Spanish native. It is the same with his compatriot, Lope de Vega, who also thought that the language is sweet.
Portuguese is the official language in Portugal, but it is different from the Portuguese spoken in Brazil. The Portuguese language in Portugal is termed European Portuguese which is mixed with several dialects. Overall, native speakers of Portuguese are about 210 million to 215 million worldwide, with the highest concentration in Brazil. Overall total is 240 million, making the language the world’s seventh most spoken language and the third most spoken among European languages.
Community of Portuguese Language Countries
It is a language that is firmly establishing itself as a major world language, and the countries where Portuguese is the main language has formed an intergovernmental group called the Community of Portuguese Language Countries to foster friendly relations among Portuguese-speaking countries (lusophone countries). It was established in July 1996. Since most of the countries are separated by great distances, this is their way of sharing their culture with each other. But that is not the only thing that the organization became involved in. Original members Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Guinea-Bissau and recent member East Timor have helped in solving political, economic and educational problems of other member countries. They have held eleven summits so far and Brazil will be the host of the 2014 Summit. Mauritius and Equatorial Guinea have been admitted as Associate Observers and 17 international organizations and associations act as consultants. Senegal was admitted in 2008 as an associate observer as well. The executive secretariat of the organization is located in Lisbon.
Museum of the Portuguese Language
In an effort to promote the language and educate non-Portuguese speakers, the interactive Museum of the Portuguese Language was established in March 2006 is São Paulo. It is located in the Estação da Luz, a railway station in the city where about 300,000 passengers come and go on a daily basis. It was established by the São Paulo Secretary of Culture in cooperation with the Roberto Marinho Foundation. The area is also the entry point of immigrants that do not know the language as well. It was also established to encourage Portuguese speakers to learn more about the language they speak.
Influences and Origin
Like the rest of the romance languages, Portuguese is also a descendant of Latin. The Iberian Peninsula was where Latin was firmly established after it was invaded by the Romans. While Latin became enforced as the lingua franca, pretty soon it became diluted by the arrival of other conquerors such as the Visigoths and Suebi, which were Germanic people. When the Moors came, Arabic was enforced but some were able to speak a form of the Romance language that was labeled as Mozarabic.
However, Portuguese originated from Old Portuguese or Galician Portuguese, which is a medieval language. The first known written words in this language was found in documents that came from the 9th century. By the 12th up to the 14th century Portuguese was used for lyric poetry and most written documents.
Portugal became an independent nation in 1139 during the reign of King Alfonso I. The first Portuguese university was establish by King Denis of Portugal in 1290 and ruled that the common language they speak will be called Portuguese and that it will be the official language of the kingdom.
The explorations of the Portuguese in the new world brought about the spread of the language in other countries and in some areas the language was retained even if the Portuguese conquerors were long gone. The period when Old Portuguese was used ended in 1516 and by the middle of the 16th century, the modern Portuguese took over. Its lexicon was increased by the borrowed words from Classical Greek and Latin.
Understanding the differences
Understanding Portuguese is helped greatly when you know other Romance languages such as Spanish, Italian or French. However, it does not mean that the words are the same. For example, “to eat” come from the Latin word “comedere,” which became “comer” im Spanish and Portugues. The French and Italian languages use a different term, “manducare,” which evolved into “mangiare” in Italian and “manger” in French.
“Casues” means “cheese’ in Latin. In Spanish it is “queso” and it is called “queijo” in Portuguese. The Italians and the French adopted “formaticus” from the Latin word “forma.” It was from this term that the word “fromaggio” in Italian and “fromage” in French came from. Inversely the French, Malay and Chinese languages also influenced, even in a small way, the development of the Portuguese lexicon, with word such as “chá,” which is tea in Chinese, the Malay word “janghada” or raft, and the French word “rue” or street and its equivalent in Portuguese – “rua.”
Portuguese influence in some Japanese words
It is surprising to know that there are some Japanese words that came from Portuguese. This includes the following:
Some Portuguese words and phrases
One interesting fact about Portuguese is that its alphabet does not include the letters k, w and y. Only foreign words that found their way into the language use these three letters from the English alphabet. Some Portuguese words have nasalized vowels just like in French. Most of these are vowels followed by the letters n or m and those vowels with a tilde on top of them, such as ã. The suffix -ção means -tion in English. Its plural form is -ções. The cedilla attached
to the letter c means that it is pronounced in the same way as a “double s” when you see it before an a, o and u. In Portuguese, the accent usually falls on the second to the last syllable, unless an acute accent, such as in á, é, í, ó and ú is present, in which case you give the emphasis on where that is placed. Portuguese has a feminine and masculine form.
Now that you know some basic rules, let us learn some basic words:
When you are in Brazil or a in a country where Portuguese is spoken or if you are meeting some Portuguese individual, bear in mind that they would appreciate your effort in talking to them in their own language or in English. However, never make the mistake of talking with them in Spanish. Boa sorte!