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  Wikipedia: Portuguese language

Wikipedia: Portuguese language
Portuguese language
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Portuguese is the second most spoken Romance language in the world (outnumbered only by Spanish), spoken in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, East Timor, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Macau SAR.

Portuguese ''( Português)''
Spoken in:Portugal, Brasil and other former Portuguese colonies
Total speakers: 206 Million
Official status
Official language of:Portugal, Brasil. Angola. Mozambique. Guinea Bissau. Cape Verde. São Tomé and Príncipe. East Timor. Macau
Regulated by:
Language codes
ISO 639-1: pt
ISO 639-2: (T): por


Roman colonization

Although the Iberian Peninsula was inhabited since well before the Roman colonization, very few traces of the native languages persist in modern Portuguese. The Portuguese language, that has as its origin Vulgar Latin, developed on the west coast of the
Iberian Peninsula (current Portugal and region of Galiza, or Galicia) enclosed in the Roman province of Lusitania. The province of Lusitania split into two separate provinces, Lusitania and Galecia. From 218 BC, with the Roman invasion of the peninsula, and until the 9th century, the language spoken in the region was Romance, a variant of Latin that constitutes an intermediate to the modern Latin languages.

Barbarian invasion

During 409 A.D. to 711, peoples of germanic origin, known by the Romans as Barbarians, came to the Iberian Peninsula. These Barbarians had very little developed culture and they accepted the culture and language of the peninsula. The effect of these migrations in the spoken language of the population was not uniform, initiating a process of regional differentiation, since each barbarian spoke Latin in a different form.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the schools were closed and the former empire no longer had the unifying elements of the language. Latin was free to modify itself.

The definitive disruption of the linguistic uniformity in the Peninsula will occur later, leading to the formation of well differentiated languages(Gallego-Portuguese, Castillian and Catalan). Some influences of this era persist in the vocabulary of modern Portuguese especially in words linked to war and violence.

Moorish invasion

From 711, with the moorish invasion of the Peninsula, Arabic is adopted as main language in the conquered regions, but the population continues to speak Romance. From the 9th to the 11th century, some Portuguese terms appear in the texts written in Latin, but Portuguese is essentially only spoken in Portugal and Galicia.

Although barbarians and Arabs remained in the peninsula for quite some time, the influence that they exerted on the language was small and was restricted to the lexicon, therefore the romanization process was very intense. But one can find a huge number of Arabic words in Portuguese especially relating to food, agriculture and placenames of the south.

The Rise of the Portuguese language

King Alfonso I established the Portuguese Nation that assumed official independence in 1143. The language spoken in this occidental part of the Peninsula was Gallego-Portuguese which in the time differentiated itself: in the south, Portuguese, and in the north, Galician, which was undergoing more influence of Castilian. In 1290, king Diniz creates the Escola de Direitos Gerais (School of General Rights) and compels in decree the official use of the Portuguese Language.

The Portuguese discoveries

Between the 14th and the 16th centuries, with the Portuguese discoveries, the Portuguese language becomes present in some regions of Asia, Africa and America, undergoing local influences.

At that time, Portuguese became the language for business in Asia, it had a Lingua Franca status. The language was, not only, used in the colonial cities in Asia, but also by several local governors when contacting with foreigners. In Ceylon (nowadays Sri Lanka) Portuguese was used by Europeans to speak with natives; several kings of Ceylon spoak fluent Portuguese and Portuguese names were common among nobles.

Later, when the Ducht ruled Ceylon and Indonesia, they prohibited the use of Portuguese. They had taken severe measures, but the Population continued to use Portuguese. Locals that were converted to christianism adopted Portuguese as their natural language, calling it Cristão (meaning Christian). Also there were several mixed marriages between Portuguese and locals, that also adpoted Portuguese has their native language. Some of this communities became isolated from Portugal, but they continue to use Portuguese. However, at this time, that Portuguese suffered changes from centuries of isolation from Portugal, today they are known as creoles. Some of them are still spoken in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia by christian or isolated communities.

The Portuguese language not only became influenciated from local languages, they were also influentiated. Many Portuguese origin words were adpot by several Indian and Ceylon languages, but also by Bengali, Malay, Tetum, Suahili, Afrikaans and several others.

The Renaissance

With the Renaissance, increases in the number of words of Italian origin and erudite words of Greek origin increase the complexity of Portuguese. The end of archaic Portuguese is marked by the publication of the Cancioneiro Geral de Garcia de Resende, in 1516.

Classification and related languages

Indo-European - Italic - Romance - Italo-Western - Western - Gallo-Iberian - Ibero-Romance - West-Iberian - Portuguese-Galician

Portuguese is similar in many ways to Spanish, but there are enough differences, in both writing and speech, so that a speaker of one may require some practice to effectively understand a speaker of the other. Compare, for example:

Ela fecha sempre a janela antes de jantar (Portuguese)

Ella cierra siempre la ventana antes de cenar. (Spanish)

Almost all words in Spanish or Portuguese have close relatives in both languages if you are cultivated enough to use less common words:

Ela encerra sempre a janela antes de cear (less common Portuguese)

(Which translates as "She always closes the window before having dinner.")

Speakers of other Romance languages may find a peculiarity in the conjugating of certain apparently infinite verbs. In particular, when constructing a future tense or conditional tense expression involving an indirect object pronoun, the pronoun is placed between the verb stem and the verb ending. For example, Dupondt said trazer-vos-emos o vosso ceptro. Translating as literally as possible, this is "bring (stem)-to you (formal)-we (future) the your sceptre". In English we would say, "We will bring you your sceptre." The form Nós vos traremos o vosso ceptro. is also correct, although far less common in Portugal, but more common in Brazil.

Portuguese speakers are generally able to read Spanish Castilian, and Spanish Castilian speakers are generally able to read Portuguese, even if they can't understand the spoken language. Tourists in Portugal and Brazil should note that trying to communicate with the locals in Spanish may seem offensive.

In some places, Spanish and Portuguese are spoken almost interchangeably. There is a town on the Brazil/Paraguay border, for example, known in Brazil as Ponta Porã and in Paraguay as Pedro Juan Caballero, where conversations regularly switch back and forth between the two languages.

Geographic distribution

In addition to its home country of Portugal, Portuguese is spoken in Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde Islands, China, Congo, East Timor, France, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mozambique,São Tomé and Principe, and South Africa.

Portuguese is mainly spoken in two countries, Brazil and Portugal. Is their national language, practically spoken by all of their population. It is Spoken also throwout Europe and South America, By Portuguese and Brazilian influence, respectively. In Europe, there are strong Portuguese communities in Luxembourg, Andorra and France.

Portuguese is a growing language, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is projected that to be the one of the most spoken languages within 50 years with the growing importance of Angola and Mozambique. It is also growing in importance in South America. Because of Brazil, it is being taught (and is popular, especially in Argentina) in the rest of the South American countries that constitute Mercosul (Mercosur).

Portuguese is also spoken in Asia, especially in Goa (India), East Timor and Macau (China). In Goa, it is spoken by an increasingly small minority, it is seen as the language of the grandparents, because it is not taught at school, while in Malacca in Malaysia, there is a Portuguese creole known as Cristão or Papiá Kristang still spoken by some of the Eurasian population. There are also active Portuguese creoles, especially, in India and Sri Lanka.

In the former Portuguese colonies in Africa, known as Paises Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa (PALOP) Portuguese is also spoken among its creoles and other African languages. There are strong Portuguese creoles in other parts of Africa. The south of Senegal, known as Casamance has an active community that is linked culturally and linguistically to Guinea-Bissau. This region fights for its independence from Senegal. A Portuguese creole linked to São Tomé and Principe is the language of the island of Ano Bom, in Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also widly spoken in South Africa by immigrants from Angola, Brazil, Mozambique and Portugal.

In Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, the most widely-spoken languages are Portuguese creoles known as Crioulos. Most of Capeverdians speak also Portuguese, that happens because their creoles are derived from Portuguese, a Portuguese speaker from elsewhere can understand some of a conversation in Crioulo, althougth, because some words where simplified, they normally get confused. Other possible reason is that the country unlike the other PALOP has an effective education. The case is a bit different in Guinea-Bissau, Portuguese and its creoles are spoken by 55% of the inhabitants, while Portuguese itself is only spoken by 11%.

In São Tomé and Principe, the Portuguese used by the population is an archaic Portuguese, known as São Tomean Portuguese. Politicians and the upper use the modern European Portuguese variety, much like the other PALOP countries. Three different Portuguese creoles are spoken by small communities.

In Angola, Portuguese is quickly becoming a national language rather than only an official language or as a cohesion vehicle. In the capital, Luanda, Portuguese is the first language of 75% of a population of 2.5 million. In the whole country, for 60% of the 12.5 million inhabitants Portuguese is also the main spoken language. Angola receives several Portuguese and Brazilian televison stations. There are also many other native languages in Angola. Some words from those languages have been borrowed into Portuguese, when the retornados returned to Portugal after Angola's independence. Words like (yes) and bué (many), common in the young and urban Portuguese population have their origin in Angolan languages.

Mozambique is among the countries where the Portuguese has the status of official language, being spoken essentially as a second language, However, it is the main language of the cities. According to the Census of 1997, Portuguese speakers are more than 40% of the population, this number rises to more than 72% in the urban areas. But only 9% consider Portuguese as their main language (26% in the cities). All the Mozambican writers write in Portuguese, but it became attached to the color and texture of the Mozambican culture.

In East Timor, the national language is Tetum, an Austronesian language, but it has been heavily influenced by Portuguese. The reintroduction of Portuguese as an official language has caused suspicion and resentment among some younger East Timorese who have been educated under the Indonesian system, and do not speak it. Portuguese in East Timor is spoken by less than 20% of its population, mostly the elder generation, though this percentage is increasing as Portuguese is being taught to the younger generation. East Timor asked for help to the other CPLP nations to establish once more Portuguese as a national language. East Timor uses Portuguese to link itself to a larger international community and to differentiate itself from Indonesia.

Galician (also known as Galego or Gallego) can be seen as a somewhat Castillianized form of Portuguese. The current Galician Autonomous Government backs a standard variety of Galician which distances it from Portuguese and makes its written form more similar to Castillian Spanish. Nevertheless, there is another standard, used in some political circles and universities, that treats Galician as a Portuguese dialect with minor differences. Linguists have always recognized the unity of these linguistic varieties (for instance, Corominas, Lindley Cintra, Coseriu, etc), as they were once just the same language and both are relatively conservative varieties. However, in practice, they are sometimes treated as different languages by both populations mainly due to sociolinguistic factors, with works in Galician being translated into Portuguese and vice versa. During the Middle Ages, Galician and Portuguese were undoubtedly the same language, nowadays known as Gallego-Portuguese, a language used for poetic works even in Castille.

Official status

The CPLP (Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries) is an international organization grouping together the eight independent countries which have Portuguese as official language. Portuguese is an official language of the European Union, Mercosul and African Union (seen one of the most important) among other organizations.

Portuguese is the official and national language of:

Portuguese is an official language of: There are also active Portuguese- or Portuguese creole-speaking communities in: There are endangered or extinct Portuguese or Portuguese creole-speaking communities in:


The Portuguese has two official varieties originated from the dialects of
Coimbra and Lisbon in the case of the variety of Portugal and in the dialects of Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo in the variety of Brazil. There are some differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese varieties in vocabulary, pronunciation, and syntax, especially in popular varieties. However, both European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are undoubtedly dialects of the same language.

Some said differences between the two varieties are not. In Brazil, the term for socks is meias. And, in Portugal, peúgas. However, some dialectal zones in Portugal uses meias and don't use the word peúgas. This applies in almost all the said differences, except in the new terms.

A Spelling Reform made in 1990, to put an end to the two official varieties of the language, was ratified by Brazil and Portugal. The African countries of Portuguese language still not decided to ratify, because there is little presence of the African modality of the language in the original conception of the Agreement. The Agreement establishes that its entrance into practice will only occur when all the countries of the CPLP ratifies, and this process perhaps will not occur soon.

major Portuguese dialects:

  • Alentejano (Region of Alentejo, Portugal)
  • Algarvio (Region of Algarve, Portugal)
  • Alto-Minhoto (North of Braga, Portugal)
  • Angolano (Angola)
  • Açoriano (Azores, Portugal)
  • Caboverdiano (Cape Verde)
  • Caipira (interior of the State of São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Carioca (City and State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Beirão (central Portugal)
  • Estremenho (Regions of Coimbra and Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Galician or Galego ''(Galiza, Spain)
  • Gaúcho (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)
  • Guineense (Guinea-Bissau)
  • Madeirense (Madeira, Portugal)
  • Mineiro (State of Minas Gerais, Brazil)
  • Moçambicano (Mozambique)
  • Nordestino (norestern states of Brazil)
  • Nortenho (Regions of Braga and Oporto, Portugal)
  • Nortista (Amazon states, north of Brazil)
  • Paulistano (city of São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Santomense (São Tomé and Principe)
  • Sulista (south of Brasil)
  • Timorense (East Timor)
  • Transmontano (Region of Trás-os-Montes, Portugal)

Examples of words in Portuguese dialects from three different continents Angola (Africa), Portugal (Europe) and Brazil (South America).


  • Angola: abacaxi²
  • Portugal: ananás¹, sometimes abacaxi²
  • Brazil: abacaxi², sometimes ananás¹

  • Angola: anhara³ or chana³
  • Portugal and Brazil: savana¹

Pretty girl
  • Angola: barona³
  • Portugal: rapariga bonita¹ or moça bonita¹
  • Brazil: moça bonita¹

Go home
  • Angola: bazar³
  • Portugal: ir embora¹ (or bazar³ among teenagers)
  • Brazil: ir embora ¹

To work
  • Angola: bumbar³
  • Portugal and Brazil: trabalhar¹

  • Angola: bicha²
  • Portugal: maricas¹ or bicha²
  • Brazil: bicha ²

  • Angola: farra³
  • Portugal and Brazil: festa¹ (or farra³ - teenage parties)

  • Portugal: autocarro
  • Brazil: ônibus
  • Angola (and Mozambique): machimbombo

(1) Portuguese origin (2) Brazilian origin (3) Angolan origin

Derived languages

There are several Portuguese creoles spoken around the world:

  • A Fala, Spain
  • Angolar, São Tomé and Principe
  • Creole of the Burgher people, Sri Lanka
  • Creole of Diu, India
  • Creole of Vaipim, India
  • Fá d’Ambô (also known as Falar de Ano Bom), Equatorial Guinea
  • Forro (also known as Crioulo Santomense), São Tomé and Principe
  • Gallego, Spain (The official version of Galego)
  • kriol of Guinea-Bissau (also known as Crioulo), Guinea-Bissau
  • kriol of Casamance (also known as Crioulo), Senegal
  • Kriolu of Barlavento (also known as Crioulo), Cape Verde
  • Kriolu of Sotavento (also known as Crioulo), Cape Verde
  • Kristi (or Cristao), India
  • Língua da Casa, India
  • Lunguyê (also known as Língua da Ilha or Principense), São Tomé and Principe
  • Papiá Kristang (or Cristao), Malaysia (and possibly exctinct in Singapore)
  • Patuá (or Makaista), Macau (and exctinct in Hong Kong)
  • Português de Bidau, East Timor (sometimes treated as a variety of Portuguese)
  • Portunhol, Uruguai


The phonetics of Portuguese are rather complicated. In comparison with the related Spanish language, there is no simple rule for the pronunciation of vowels, and some consonants also have multiple values. European and Brazilian Portuguese differ somewhat.

The tilde indicates a nasalized vowel. It occurs over two vowels, ã and õ, and in several diphthongs such as ão and ãe. The nasal sounds may also be indicated by a following m, as in bom ('good').

Unstressed o is normally /u/, and unstressed a is normally an open central vowel.

There are palatal consonants lh and nh (the equivalent of Spanish ll, ñ). The consonants ch, j are postalveolar fricatives, SAMPA /S/, /Z/, or the same sound as in French.

The letter s when final or followed by another voiceless consonant is /S/, or before a voiced consonant /Z/. So the escudo (the previous currency - now Portugal uses the Euro) is /@SkuDu/, plural escudos /@SkuDuS/. This peculiarity is only valid however in Portugal and in the metropolitan area of the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. In other regions of Brazil and other former Portuguese colonies, the s is merely voiced (to /z/) when before a voiced consonant.



Since Portuguese is a Romance language, most of the language comes from Latin. However, other languages that have come into contact with Portugese have left their mark.

Pre-Roman origin words

  • Abóbora (pumpkin) - native
  • Barro (adobe) - native
  • Bezerro (year-old calf) - native
  • Bico (peak) from Celtic
  • Cabana (hut) from Celtic
  • Cama (bed) - native
  • Camisa (shirt) from Celtic
  • Carvalho(oak) from Celtic
  • Cerveja (beer) from Celtic
  • Farol (lighthouse) from Greek
  • Gato (cat) from Celtic
  • Louça (claw) - native
  • Malha (mesh) from Phoenician
  • Mapa (map) from Phoenician
  • Manteiga (butter) - native
  • Saco (bag) from Phoenician
  • Sapo (frog) - native
  • ''Touca (headress) from Celtic

Barbarian origin words

  • Barão (baron) from ger. baro
  • Ganhar (to win) from ger. waidanjan
  • Guerra (war) from got. *wirro
  • Roubar (to steal) from ger. raubon

Arabic origin words

  • Alcova (Alcove) from alkubba
  • Aldeia (village) from aldaya
  • Alecrim (rosemary) from aliklil
  • Alicate (pliers) from allikkát
  • Alface (lettuce) from alkhass
  • Alfândega (customs) from alfunduk
  • Algarismo (algarism, number) from alkarizmi
  • Alquimia (Alchemy) from al + kimia
  • Almirante (admiral) from amir + ar-rahl
  • Almofada (cushion) from almukhadda
  • Alvará (license) from albar'at
  • Âmbar (amber)
  • Argola (ring)
  • Armazém (warehouse)
  • Arroz (rice)
  • Azeite (olive oil)
  • Cabide (hanger)
  • Damasco (damson plum)
  • Garrafa (bottle)
  • Girafa (giraffe)
  • Jasmim (jasmin)
  • Jarra (jar)
  • Javali (wild boar)
  • Laranja (orange)
  • Macio (soft)
  • Marfim (ivory)
  • Nora (daughter-in-law)
  • Recife (reef)
  • Refém (hostage)
  • Saga (Saga)
  • Sapato (shoe)
  • Tarefa (task)
  • Tarifa (tariff)
  • Xadrez (Chess)
  • Xerife (xerife)

Asian origin words

  • Chá (Tea), from Chinese
  • Jangada (raft), from Malay

Amerindian origin words

  • Abacaxi (pineapple)
  • Caju (cashew)
  • Mandioca (cassava)
  • Pipoca (popcorn)
  • Tatu (armadillo)

Sub-saharan Africa origin words

  • Banana (banana)

Writing system

Portuguese is written using the
Latin alphabet.


There is a Portuguese Wikipedia
English Portuguese
hello olá (pronounced as Oh-LAH)
oi (popular)
good-Bye adeus (may seem offensive, sign of good-bye forever)
tchau (popular)
thank you obrigado (if you are a man)
obrigada (if you are a woman)
sorry desculpe
that one esse (masculine)
essa (feminine)
this one este (masculine)
esta (feminine)
one um (masculine)
uma (feminine)
two dois (masculine)
duas (feminine)
three três (pronounced as Treh-sh or Treh-j or Treh-ss)
four quatro
five cinco
how much? quanto custa?
yes sim
no não (pronounced as naang)
yes sim
I'm English Sou Inglês
I'm American Sou Americano
Do you speak English? Falas inglês? (to friends)
Fala inglês? (sign of respect in Portugal and to friends in Brasil)
I don't understand Não percebo
what? Como?
what's your name? Como te chamas? (pronounced as COH-muh tee SHAH-mash )
My name is Eu me chamo
Eu chamo-me
what's this? O que é isto? (pronounced as Uh quee heh ISH-tuh?)
this is good Isto é bom
where's the bathroom? Onde fica o banheiro (Brazil) (pronounced as ON-de FIH-ka uh BAH-ng-eh-ruh )
Onde fica o quarto de banho (Portugal)
I will miss you Vou sentir tua falta
Vou sentir sua falta (sign of respect in Portugal and to friends in Brasil)
Vou sentir saudades tuas (portuguese sentimental sense of miss)
Vou sentir saudades suas (portuguese sentimental sense of miss- sign of respect in Portugal and to friend in Brazil)
man homem
wine Vinho (masculine) (pronounced as VIH ng-uh)
car carro (masculine)
monument monumento (masculine)
room quarto (masculine)
a room um quarto (masculine and singular)
two rooms dois quartos (masculine and plural)
woman mulher
shop loja (feminine)
road estrada (feminine)
sand areia (feminine)
food comida (feminine)
a potato uma batata (feminine and singular)
two potatos duas batatas (feminine and plural)


To English speakers, the most famous writer in the Portuguese language is the poet Luís Vaz de Camoes or Luís Vaz Camoens (1524-June 10, 1580), author of the epic poem, the Lusiad. (In the Victorian era, he was both sufficiently admired and sufficiently obscure for Elizabeth Barrett Browning to disguise her work by entitling it Sonnets from the Portuguese, a reference to Camões).

The Portuguese national holiday, "Portugal's Day" or "Dia de Portugal, das Comunidades Portuguesas e de Camões" (Portugal's, Portuguese Communities' and Camoens' Day), is celebrated on June 10th, the anniversary of Camões death. It is a day of national pride similar to the "independence days" celebrated in other countries.

Eça de Queirós (1845 - 1900) is the most famous Portuguese novelist. His works have been translated into many languages; as of 2003, about twenty of them are in print in English translation. Born in Povoa de Varzim, near Oporto. He traveled throughout the world as a consul. He happily accepted his assignment to the consulate of Paris in 1888 and remained there until his death. The books he wrote in Paris are critical of Portuguese society. Some of his most famous works are The Maias, The Crime of Father Amaro (O crime do Padre Amaro) and Cousin Basílio (Primo Basílio).

In 2002, the Mexican director Carlos Carrera made a motion picture, "El Crimen del Padre Amaro" ("The Crime of Father Amaro"), adapted from Queirós' novel. One of the most successful Mexican films in history, it was also controversial because of what was thought by some to be an unfair depiction of the Catholic priesthood.

Fernando Pessoa (1888 - 1935) was a famous portuguese poet, one of the greatest in the Portuguese history. He wrote as if he was different poets. One of his most famous works, was a different and vivid adaptation of The Lusiad, called The Message (A Mensagem).

The Message is seen as impressive by some critics for speaking of the Sebastianism and Portuguese prophecies, that were created and prophecized during the time of Camoens. The Portuguese irrationally wait the return of the dead king in a foggy day - the return of National Me (Eu Nacional) that will take Portugal, once more, to govern the Fifth Empire.

External links


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona