The Portuguese Language and What Makes it Intriguing


So, where are you from? Oh, Brasil. Es verdad? Hablo español! Awe!
(Oh Brazil. Really? I speak Spanish.) Hello everyone. Welcome to the Langfocus channel.
My name is Paul. Today, I’m going to talk about Portuguese. Portuguese is a language that
far too often gets ignored. In Canada, if you tell someone you want
to study Portuguese, they might say
“Oh. Isn’t that kind of like Spanish?” Or worse yet, they might say: “Why Portuguese?
Why don’t you study Spanish instead?” And I’m sure Portuguese-speakers just love that. The truth is that Portuguese is one of the world’s
major languages with between 215 and 220 million people. It is the second most widely spoken
Romance language after Spanish. Like Spanish, it is so widely spoken because it spread
to the four corners of the globe during the colonial period. It is the only official language in Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique,
Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Saõ Tomé and Príncipe and it’s co-official in East-Timor,
Equatorial Guinea and Macau. Like all romance languages, Portuguese developed
from Vulgar Latin which was the spoken Latin
used during the Roman Empire Together with Castilian Spanish along with Galician
and a few other languages, it forms the Ibero-Romance
branch of the Romance language family. It’s called the Ibero-Romance because
it’s located on the Iberian Peninsula. When the Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula,
Vulgar Latin began to be spoken there. And it started to diverge gradually over time
into different regional dialects. And by the 10th century, those dialects had diverged
enough to be considered separate languages. But Portuguese didn’t exactly exist yet. Galician-Portuguese also known
as “Old Portuguese” existed. Galician-Portuguese diverged into two separate
modern languages : Galician and Portuguese
by about the 16th century. Although they’re still quite similar from what I hear. The language received its name “Portuguese” in the year 1290
when the King of Portugal opened the first university in Portugal. And he decided that the language of instruction would not
be Latin but would be the Vulgar Latin, the spoken language and he decided
to call that language “Português”. Portugal was still a relatively new kingdom at that time
and the language had never been called Portuguese yet. It was just called “Vulgar Latin” and it was not yet
very distinct from the Vulgar Latin spoken in Galicia. In the 1500s, when the newly developed printing press
helped make Portuguese a standardized language, Portugal had already started exploring and colonizing
different areas of the world, bringing their language with them. The net result is this: Portuguese is spoken by around
ten million people in Portugal but it is much more dispersed around the world. It is spoken by 205 million people in Brazil And then, of course, there’s Africa. In Angola, it is the native language of about
5 million people, 20 % percent of the population. But it’s also widely used as a lingua franca
that unites the country’s different ethnic groups. That is about 15 million more second language speakers. Cape Verde’s 500,000 people speak
a Portuguese-based Creole as their native language but they learn Portuguese
as a second language for official purposes. Also in Guinea-Bissau,
the most common language is a Portuguese Creole but Portuguese is also an official language
with around 200,000 native speakers In Mozambique there are 1.9 million native speakers and
another 10 million who speak it as a second language. In Saõ Tomé and Príncipe, it is spoken
by another 120,000 people as a native language. In Equatorial Guinea, it was made an official language
in recent years though nobody really speaks it. I think they did that to promote their relations
with other Portuguese-speaking countries in the area. And let’s not forget Asia. Portuguese is a co-official language in East-Timor,
which was a Portuguese colony until 1975. Nowadays, it is co-official language again
but mostly only older people can speak it and they are almost all second language speakers. Also in Macau, Portuguese is spoken by 0.6%
of the population as a native language and it’s also spoken by some elderly people
as a second language but not so much these days. There are also the former Portuguese colonies in India,
specifically Goa, Daman y Diu. Portuguese is spoken by some people there
but the numbers are quite small these days There are also Portuguese Creoles spoken in Malacca (Malaysia),
Flores (Indonesia), Batticaloa (Sri Lanka) and Aruba. If we include the second language speakers, then there
are about 250 to 260 million speakers of Portuguese. That does not include the creole languages. Portuguese’s the six most widely
spoken language in the world. And it is also the most widely spoken language in South America,
even though it’s only spoken in one country there, Brazil. There are different accents and dialects of Portuguese
but the main 2 categories are: European Portuguese, which is spoken in Portugal
and Brazilian Portuguese, which is spoken in Brazil. Brazilian Portuguese is similar to 18th c. Portuguese
and also has some influences from the indian languages and
African languages of the people who were present in Brazil. I’ve read a lot of comments by lots
of different people about this. But it seems like the difference between Brazilian
and European Portuguese is basically like the difference
between UK English versus American English. There is different accent, different pronunciation.
There are some different vocabulary words and idioms
and some of the grammar is slightly different. But basically, they are the same language
and are intelligible. Though sometimes depending on your exposure
to the other variety of the language, you might have
some trouble understanding or communicating. Which one is better to study? Well, most students of Portuguese seem to say
that Brazilian Portuguese is easier to learn. And, on top of that, Brazil has a huge population of
over 200 million people and you’re much more
likely to meet Brazilians around the world,
then you are Portuguese people in my experience. On top of that, Brazilian soap operas
are very popular around the world and they make people in all Portuguese-speaking
countries quite familiar with Brazilian Portuguese. So, in my opinion, the best one to learn
is Brazilian Portuguese, unless you have a specific plan
to visit or live in Portugal. There might be some other reasons
I prefer Brazilian Portuguese
but there’s no need to get into that right now Did you know… ? The Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic rule
for several hundred years and, during that time, Portugal absorbed some influence from the Arabic language
and that includes about 800 vocabulary words of Arabic origin. Something similar happened to Spanish too. There are also some Portuguese words that have made
their way into the english vocabulary. For example: Some food like: And the insect: Like most Romance languages, Portuguese has a lot of
vocabulary that is recognizable to English-speakers,
because of the French and Latin influence on English. Let’s look at a Portuguese sentence
and I’ll show you what I mean. Okay, forgive my pronunciation, you guys. So let’s look at some of the words here. “Cantora”. Well, that looks like the English word “Cantor”
which is someone who recites music
in a synagogue or church, I think. So I think that “cantora” is a “singer”. “Compositora”. Well, that looks like composer.
So I think that means “musical composer”. “Instrumentista”. Well, I think that looks
like “instrumentalist” or “musician”. And “produtora”. That looks like producer
so “produtora musical” must mean “musical producer” And then, “atriz” that must mean “actress”
and “norte-americana” that looks like “North-American” So, if you look at all of those words and just kind
of analyze each word, you can figure out
the meaning of that sentence pretty easily. A lot of Portuguese sentences are like that
though they’re not always that simple, but… I give you a simple example just to show you
that you can often recognize words like that. So you can probably learn to read some Portuguese
fairly easily if you’re an English-speaker. And if you know another Romance language,
then you can probably already read a lot of it
without having studied the language. Of course, learning to speak it and to write it
will require focus and effort because that means you have to actually produce the phonology and
produced the grammar as you have to do with any language. So, stop thinking of Portuguese
as the strange little brother of Spanish. It’s actually an important global language
that stands on its own. Thank you for watching the Langfocus channel. If you are interested in Portuguese and in Brazil,
make sure you also check out my video on Brazil on my other channel Geofocus and it’s right here Thank you for watching. And have a nice day!

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