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European Portuguese vs Brazilian Portugese

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European Portuguese vs Brazilian Portugese

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With around 250 million native speakers, Portuguese is one of the world’s most spoken languages, and is used in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, S. Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor. However, Portuguese is not the same all over. Take Brazilian and European Portuguese, for example, which are far apart in terms of spelling, verbs and terminology.

Use of European Portuguese in Brazil is limited. For example, a Brazilian person might read a book or hear a radio interview in EU Portuguese, but little more. To the European Portuguese speaker, Brazilian Portuguese is uncomfortable and sounds incorrect. Some even consider it to be an uncultured variant of the European form. In some situations, the use of Brazilian Portuguese can be unacceptable to the Portuguese, and vice-versa.

Here are the main differences between the languages:

1. Pronunciation/accent. The most striking difference is that the Portuguese shorten the enunciation of the vowels to a bare minimum, while Brazilians tend to lengthen them. This is enough to make the two variants sound completely different from each other.

2. Vocabulary. Depending on the nature and the subject of the text, this may go unnoticed... or not! Similar differences exist in US vs. UK English, but they are considerably less numerous than between Brazilian and European Portuguese.

3. Spelling. Spelling in Brazil and in Portugal is governed by law, and Brazilian and Portuguese spellings are different. Portuguese-speaking countries signed an orthographic agreement that commenced on 1st January 2009. More than unifying spellings, the agreement is oriented to accept one another’s spelling as correct. For practical purposes, it’s worth noting that some spellcheckers used in popular software can contain the other variant’s spelling, so they are definitely not a reliable source.

4. Phrase construction. The way to assemble phrases is usually different in each variant, though this difference can be mitigated. It is possible to construct phrases in a way to iron out most of these differences, although it is easy to inadvertently emphasise them.

5. Grammar. The use of pronouns and verbs is quite different. Though each variant’s grammar rules do not consider the other’s way of doing it ‘wrong’, practice renders it strange.

The bottom line is that the two major variants of the Portuguese language should be treated as separate languages, especially when targeting business. For professional help translating any language, contact Sure Languages:

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