Thirty-Fourth Edition - Brazilian and
Brazilian and European Portuguese
Portuguese is one of the world’s ten most frequently spoken languages. It is
also one of the languages of the European Union, and the official language of
the following seven countries:
(population 11 million): located in
Southern Africa, between
Namibia and Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Angola is a former
Portuguese colony that became independent in 1975. Portuguese is the official
Bantu and other African languages, such as Chokwe, Kongo, Kwanyama are also
(population 183 million):
Brazil occupies 48% of
South America and is the leading economic power in the region. Colonized by
the Portuguese in the 16th century,
declared its independence from the mother country in 1822. Portuguese is the
official language of Brazil, other languages are Spanish, English and French.
(population 997,853 ) : Located in
Southeastern Asia, the Portuguese colony of
Timor declared its
on November 1975, but was promptly invaded by Indonesia in December of that
same year and incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976, as the province of
East Timor. The official languages of East Timor are Tetum and Portuguese,
other languages are Indonesian and English. There are 16 indigenous languages.
(population 1.4 million): Located in Western Africa, between
and Senegal, Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese colony that became
independent in 1974. The official language is Portuguese, other languages are
Crioulo and African languages, such as Balanta-Kentohe, Mandinka, Pulaar.
(population 17.5 million): Located in South-eastern
South Africa and Tanzania,
Mozambique had been a Portuguese colony for five centuries when it declared
its independence in 1975. The official language of
is Portuguese, other languages are indigenous dialects, such as Lomwe, Makhuwa,
(population 10.1 million speakers): Located in
west of Spain. Portugal enjoyed wealth and status as a world power during the
15th and 16th centuries. The destruction of Lisbon in the earthquake of 1755,
the occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and Brazil's independence in 1822
to lose much of its wealth and status. In 1978, Portugal granted independence
to all its African Colonies. Portugal has been a member country of the EU
São Tomé e Príncipe (population 175,883):
Islands located in the Gulf
of Guinea, Western Africa, became a colony of Portugal in the late 15th
century. São Tomé e Príncipe declared independence from Portugal in 1975. The
official language is Portuguese.
Portuguese is also one of the two major languages of
located in Western Africa, west of Senegal. Colonized by the Portuguese in the
15th century, Cape Verde
became independent in 1975. The other major language of Cape Verde is Crioulo, a
blend of Portuguese and West African). It is also one of the two major languages
of Macau, the first European settlement in the
Far East in the 16th
Century. On December 20, 1999
the former Portuguese colony became the Macau Special Administrative Region
(SAR) of China. The other major language in Macau is Chinese (Cantonese).
purposes of this newsletter, we will focus on Brazilian and European Portuguese,
emphasizing the differences between these two language versions.
Brazilian Portuguese is an offshoot of the language of the mother country,
Portugal. With eighteen times the population of Portugal and 5,254,630 square
miles (8,456,510 km2), Brazil is significantly larger than Portugal,
which is approximately the size of the State of Indiana, in the United States
(57,136 square miles, 91,951 km2 ). Brazilian music is popular around
the world and Portuguese speakers in many countries tune in to Brazilian soap
operas (telenovelas), a fact that may explain why European Portuguese
have an easier time understanding spoken Brazilian than the other way around.
Actually, this is similar to the situation that exists between the United States
and the United Kingdom: American English derived from the language of the mother
country, the UK. With five times the population of the
and an area equivalent to half of South America, the
is slightly larger than Brazil, while the UK is a bit smaller than the State of
Oregon in the United States. US music and films are exported worldwide, which
may also explain why Britons are able to understand spoken American English
better than Americans understand some varieties of British English.
examples of differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese
Distance and immigration have contributed to lexical differences between
Brazilian and European Portuguese. Italians, Germans, Japanese and their Spanish
speaking neighbors have introduced new words into the language. Other words have
entered through contact with foreign products and technologies. However, some
experts attribute the greatest differences between the languages to the
influence of Amerindian languages, such as Tupian, or Tupí-Guaraní, which was
the language used by the natives to communicate with Portuguese traders,
missionaries and adventurers, and which continued to be used in the Amazon and
Western Brazil until the 19th century. Take for example, the word for
pineapple. In European Portuguese, it is ananas, similar to other
European languages, but in Brazilian Portuguese it is abacaxi, as
Tupian influence is also found in the differences in pronunciation between
European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. The latter is more nasal and
Brazilians speak more slowly, pronouncing all the vowels. On the other hand,
European Portuguese has been influenced also by its neighbors, particularly
Spain and France, as evidenced by words like tejadilho (from the Spanish
tejadillo) used in Portugal for “roof” and estore (from the French
store) used in Portugal for roll-up curtains.
has accepted more US technical terms into the language. Words such as
software, mouse and site remain in English in Brazil, but in
Portugal they are translated to: logicial, rato and sitio.
On the other hand, the term for screen in Portugal is écran or
ecrã (from the French écran), but in Brazil, it is tela.
Overnight (as in
A volta do overnight, a sudden change, or as a travel term:
Overnight 4 dias / 3 noites)
is commonly used in
but not in Portugal.
differences could cause misunderstandings, such as the word bizarre,
which a Portuguese interprets as galhardo, gentil,
nobre (gallant, gentle, noble), but to a Brazilian means bizarre,
weird. Also, Drogaria: A Brazilian would expect to find medicine in
such an establishment, but a Portuguese would go there in search of household
items, such as cleaning and painting supplies.
Brazilian and European Portuguese differ slightly, but the two countries have
made efforts to standardize the rules of spelling, so the written word is
mutually intelligible. For example, Brazilian Portuguese tends to suppress
surplus letters and consonant doublings that are common in European Portuguese.
The following are a few examples:
Use of the
infinitive vs. the gerund:
In European Portuguese I
am working is estou a trabalhar and I am writing is estou
a escrever, but in Brazilian Portuguese the gerund is used instead
estou trabalhando, estou escrevendo. Both forms are understood in
Brazil and Portugal, but while Brazilian form is used in certain regions of
Portugal and is considered correct in some situations, the Portuguese form is
not used in Brazil.
object pronouns: Brazilians use the object pronoun before the verb, even in
formal writing, but the Portuguese do not. Examples:
Someone told me
Alguém me disse
Someone saw me
Alguém me viu
Are two different versions of Portuguese a requirement?
This is one of the
questions that we, as most other translation companies, often have to answer.
Linguistically, the two written versions of Portuguese are mutually
intelligible. Ideally, a translation should meet the cultural and linguistic
requirements of the target market, i.e., it should sound natural to the native
reader. However, the pursuit of this goal would require that the websites,
manuals, software, etc. be translated into every language and version thereof of
the intended target audience, such as Canadian and European French, US and UK
English, Castilian and different varieties of South American Spanish, and so on.
This is not always possible from the standpoint of budget and logistics (for
example, not enough space on a label of package insert).
The selection of the
language version appropriate for your requirements should also take into
consideration whether the overriding factor is to meet the requirements of the
larger target market, or to comply with the language requirement of the European
Union (EU). In the case of Portuguese, European Portuguese is one of the
languages of the EU, therefore it might be a requisite for export into Europe.
cost-saving alternative for those who would like to offer two versions of
Portuguese on a limited budget, is to translate into one of the two versions
(Brazilian or European), and then edit as needed to meet the requirements of the
other. If you select this option, you should keep in mind that most translators
prefer to start from scratch, because edited versions rarely sounds
equally as natural to a native speaker as an original translation.