Thanks to Portugal’s aggressive colonial expansion, this is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. The Portuguese language is the official tongue of many countries, including:
It also enjoys second-language status in many other countries. All told, there are more than 215 million speakers around the world.
The language shares Latin and Celtic roots. Initially, it was formed as a combination of Roman Latin (spread by soldiers and traders) and Celtic and Celtiberian tongues. Roman occupation stimulated trade and expansion in the Iberian peninsula, which meant people would travel around and mix more.
The result of all this mingling and traveling was a new language – although the full process took around 300 years.
As a Romance language, any student who is familiar with Spanish or Italian has an advantage. Spanish is the closest cousin linguistically. But there are distinct differences – while Celtic influences may be felt in French, for instance, they are more pervasive in Portuguese.
The script is Latin, which is to be expected from a Romance language. This certainly makes the language more approachable for English speaking students – but don’t be too complacent, the phonetics are different!
There are significant differences between the Portuguese spoken in Europe and the Americas, where they find the European tongue to be old-fashioned and quaint. Forms which are considered polite in Portugal are often interpreted as rude or cold in Brazil, for instance.
For this reason, it’s worth taking a course that’s appropriate for the region where you intend to use the language. The Internet is also a great source for finding examples from specific areas – and it’s a good excuse for binge watching Brazilian telefilms!
Studying the Portuguese language opens the door to a vibrant and rich culture, and is a good move from a career viewpoint, too.