Portuguese to English Translation, English to Portuguese
Translation, Portugese Translation
Portuguese Language's History
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Brazilian Portuguese is unique
The official language of Brazil, where society is largely monolingual, is Portuguese. Our Brazilian Portuguese
differs from European Portuguese not unlike American English differs from
the British variety.
The indigenous language that mainly influenced Brazilian Portuguese was Tupinambá (known to Brazilians as Tupi), a Tupi-Guarani language spoken along the entire coast at the time Portuguese colonists arrived in the country. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Tupinambá was used as the contact language between the Portuguese and the indigenous peoples in territorial expansions in the south (the "Bandeirantes") and in eastern Amazonia. As a result of this contact situation, the Portuguese lexicon incorporated
a large number of words from Tupinambá (especially for place names, fauna
and flora); examples are jabuti for "turtle", jacare for "alligator", capim
for "grass" and cipo for "vine".
Another group which had a great impact on Brazilian culture
and language were the Africans; examples of words of African origin are dende
for "palm oil", candomble (religion) and samba (music and dance).
Many people, mainly Italians, Germans, and Japanese, immigrated to the south of Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century. These
linguistic groups would quickly make contributions to the enlargement of the
vocabulary and pronunciation of local varieties of Brazilian Portuguese.
Today, following a world trend, many English words have crept into Brazilian Portuguese, especially in technical fields. However, the average Brazilian - as it
is truth of the average American in the US - does not speak a second language.
Foreign visitors, therefore, should not expect Brazilians to understand English
or even Spanish, even though they may be surprised with the extent to which
Brazilians enjoy to spend time socializing, in spite of the language barriers.
Useful terms and expressions in Portuguese
Check out our Useful terms and expressions in Portuguese
Brazil has approximately 170 languages today. The vast majority of them are spoken in indigenous reservations located in the states of Amazonas (62), Mato-Grosso (28), Pará (25), Rondonia (25) and Roraima (11). Most of these languages are part of one of the five major linguistic groups of Brazil: Tupi, Macro-Ge, Karib, Aruak, and Pano.
Approximately 150,000 people speak thse indigenous Brazilian languages. Whereas some languages have thousands
of speakers and are being actively learned by children, many others are in
precarious conditions. For example, the Xipaya (Juruna family, Tupi stock)
language is now spoken by only two older women in Altamira, Pará. The last
two speakers of Puruborá, the only language of the Puruborá family of the
Tupi stock (listed as extinct for the last thirty years) were recently discovered,
but they hadn't spoken the language for 40 years and could remember less than
Today, Tupinambá, the indigenous language that mainly influenced Brazilian Portuguese (see above), is extinct, even though elements of it survive in the “Lintgua Geral Amazonica,” or Nheengatu, a language which retains qualities of Portuguese and Tupinambá. This composite was spoken largely in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Its descendant today is
called Nheengatu, which is spoken, among other regions, in the upper Rio Negro
The majority of Brazilian Native Americans are at least bilingual, since they speak Portuguese in addition to their own languages. Multilingualism can also be found in regions such as the Eastern Uape’s River, where Tukano populations, due to exogamous marriages and linguistic purism, speak an average of three to five languages.
Reference: Rodrigues, Aryon, 1986. Linguas Brasileiras
- Para o Conhecimento das linguas indigenas. Sao Paulo: Loyola. Some of the
information above was given to me first-hand by Dr. Denny Moore from the Linguistic
Division of the Museu Emi'lio Goeldi, Bele'm, PA, Brazil.
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