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A Guide to Brazilian Portuguese

 

The Portuguese language is one of the most complex and detailed languages in the world, and it is also considered a sophisticated and poetic language. It is important to know that there are two different types of Portuguese: Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese.

You have probably heard someone speaking Portuguese at some point, and you may even have confused the language with Spanish. As much as both languages ​​are based on Latin, they are completely different, from their pronunciation to the structuring of sentences. 

To know the difference, just pay attention to the pronunciation of words, since Portuguese is more clear, while Spanish is nasal. Portuguese originated from vulgar Latin, one of several variants of this primordial language. Over the centuries the language has undergone several changes, and it was only in the 13th century that it was considered stabilized.

Brazilian Portuguese Origin

Brazilian Portuguese was born in a peculiar way, it is a mixture of the original Portuguese with African and indigenous languages. Brazil has always been a country of mixed cultures, and the same happened to the primary language, which ended up adapting itself to accommodate the diverse cultures that were present in the place.

Even English itself ended up influencing Brazillian Portuguese on several different occasions, like the Brazillian word “laboriosidade”, came from the English word “labor”. Only with Romanticism, a literary movement did Brazilian Portuguese begin to take a more concrete form, since previously it had been influenced by several languages ​​and was always in a state of metamorphosis.

This stabilization happened at the beginning of the 19th century, but it was only in 1922 that Brazil completely standardized the language, through another literary movement, Modernism. However, in 2009, through an agreement made between Portuguese speaking countries, there was an orthographic reform that transformed much of the written structure of the language, like the usage of capitalization and hyphens, and elimination of the trema completely. The orality, however, remained the same.


Differences Between Brazilian and European Portuguese

Both languages ​​have striking differences, both in their pronunciation and in the structure of their sentences. We will address some aspects where these differences are really noticeable, these being the phonetics, syntax, and vocabulary as a whole.

When we compare these two languages, the first thing we notice is that several words are completely different in Portuguese. Some examples below:

Brazilian Portuguese

European Portuguese

English

Abridor

Tira-cápsulas

Opener

Açougue

Talho

Butcher

Aeromoça

Hospedeira de bordo

Flight attendant

Apostila

Sebenta

Handout

Bala

Rebuçado

Candy

Banheiro

Casa de banho

Bathroom

Café

Bica

Coffee

Caixa

Boceta

Box

Calcinha

Cueca

Panties

Celular

Telemóvel

Cellphone

Fila

Bicha

Row

Grampeador

Agrafador

Stapler

Injeção

Pica

Injection

Pedestre

Peão

Pedestrian

Professor

Explicador

Teacher

Sorvete

Gelado

Ice cream

Trem

Comboio

Train

And these are just some of the examples, often European Portuguese words and phrases have a completely different meaning in Brazilian Portuguese. Another big difference comes in the pronunciation of the words, which is even more evident when we compare these two completely different languages. 

Brazilians have a slower speech rate, where the stressed and unstressed vowels are pronounced clearly. On the other hand, in European Portuguese it is normal for unstressed vowels to be eliminated during a speech, pronouncing only stressed vowels, which makes phonetics completely different. 

Finally, the syntax is also different. Syntactic construction in Brazil generally does not use the same formula as European Portuguese. For example, in Brazil, they put the oblique pronoun at the beginning of sentences, and the preposition “em” is used more than “a”. There is also the frequent use of the famous gerund rather than the infinitive preceded by a preposition. An example below

Brazilian Portuguese

European Portuguese

English Meaning

O bebê está SORRINDO

O bebê está a SORRIR

The baby is SMILING


Brazilian Portuguese Language Facts

Brazilian Portuguese is one of the more complex languages ​​to learn, especially for those who do not have a primary language that is derived from Latin. There is so much flexibility in Brazilian Portuguese that it ends up turning it into a real puzzle. 

For those who already speak it natively, everything is very simple and automatic, but for those who want to start learning this language, everything is much more complicated than it appears to be. 

Proper use of the language requires a lot of attention, and sometimes even the natives end up expressing themselves erroneously for one reason or another, so don’t worry about mistakes!

Some curiosities:

  • Brazilian Portuguese It’s heavily influenced by the Arabic language
  • New words are often incorporated into the dialect
  • Abbreviations are daily used in most conversations


The Brazilian Portuguese  Alphabet

From 2009, with the Orthographic Reform, several changes were made and one of them has to do with the Brazilian Portuguese alphabet. Previously, it had only 23 letters, but today it has 26. The following letters, K, W, and Y are used rarely. They are elements that are now part of the alphabet. They are only used in some cases, these being the spelling of proper names, toponyms and their derivatives, such as:

  •     Washington
  •     Yuri
  •     Kátia
  •     Kuwait
  •     Darwin

But they are also used in units of measurement, such as Km, Kg, W, and other less usual words. There is also the use of these letters in the spelling of foreign words that are part of the Brazilian language, such as the following:

  •     Show
  •     Playboy
  •     Whiskey
  •     Kaiser
  •     Yin
  •     Yang
  •     Kit

And these are just some of the uses of these letters, which today are part of the Brazilian alphabet, consisting of the following characters:

A – B – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – J – K – L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – V – W – X – Y – Z

Learning Brazilian Portugueses

There is nothing better than to start learning some of the most common words and phrases in Brazilian Portuguese to help create better business relationships with your Brazillian colleagues and clients and for the chance to mingle with the locals. Here are the 10 most common phrases used in everyday Brazilian life (it is important to remember that these phrases may vary depending on the region of Brazil you are in). 

Brazillian Portuguese

English

Bom dia, como você está?

Good morning, how are you?

Que tal fazermos uma pausa para tomar café?

How about taking a break for coffee?

Você viu o jogo de futebol ontem?

Did you see the football game yesterday?

Boa noite, até amanhã!

Good night, see you tomorrow!

Nada melhor do que uma cerveja gelada.

Nothing better than a cold beer.

Podemos almoçar lá em casa hoje.

We can have lunch at my home today.

Passei por aqui só pra ver como você estava.

I stopped by just to see how you were doing.

Oi! Há quanto tempo a gente não se vê!

Hi! We haven’t seen each other for a long time!

Como está a sua família?

How’s your family?

Quais são as novidades?

What’s up?

Learning Portuguese can be challenging, but it is certainly worth it. Brazilian Portuguese is spoken in several countries, and is filled with influences from different cultures, making it incredibly fun to get to know, especially when you begin to understand the slang used by Brazilians, which are extremely funny!

Learn more about the language with our Brazilian Courses.

 

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