For many people, Portuguese is a language spoken in several countries around the world in the exact same way. But for native speakers, the awareness of national differences is acute. In this article we want to let you know some of the differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese.
Formal and informal speech
In Brazil, you can address most people with “você” in informal contexts, but it works in some formal situations as well — bringing it closer to the classless universality of “you” in the English language. In Portugal, however, “tu” is used exclusively for friends, family and in casual situations.
Formal and informal speech can be very confusing for a Brazilian immigrant in Portugal. If you confuse “tu” with “você” in Portugal, you will fail to get on people’s good graces and will come off as impolite, rude and even aggressive. It’s even more confusing when you understand that the European Portuguese don’t utter “você” explicitly: it sounds crude, so they remove the pronoun and conjugate the verb using the third person singular.
Some people find Brazilian Portuguese to be phonetically pleasing to the ear with its open vowels, but think that European Portuguese sounds somewhat mumbled and doughy. Brazilian accents have a lilting and strong cadence to foreign ears, making Brazilian Portuguese initially easier to learn and understand. Because of these differences in pronunciation, it might take a little more time to get used to the accent on the other side of the Atlantic.
Some words are completely different in both languages. Here’s a handy list.
|English||BR Portuguese||EU Portuguese|
Grammar and spelling
Some words are spelled differently. For instance, reception in European Portuguese is “receção”, whereas Brazilian Portuguese adds an audible p to the spelling of “recepção”. This is applicable to words where the letter p is audible in BP and silent in EP.
Brazilians are also creative with their use of Portuguese, turning some nouns into verbs. To congratulate requires the Portuguese phrase — “dar os parabéns” — but Brazilians sometimes also condense the expression into one verb – “parabenizar”.
Another interesting fact is the assimilation of foreign words into Brazilian Portuguese written with a phonetic twist. Media (as in mass media) is “mídia” in Brazilian Portuguese and “media” in European Portuguese; Brazilian Portuguese takes the word from American English and ignores its Latin roots. European Portuguese adopts it from Latin and keeps the original spelling. Generally speaking, European Portuguese is mostly resistant to change and precious about assimilating foreign words.
Many of these differences are dumbfounding to speakers from different continents and may occasionally lead to a communication breakdown, but if you remain curious and aren’t afraid to ask questions you will quickly resolve any misunderstandings. Portuguese and Brazilians still speak the same language, but it has evolved in slightly different ways over the years due to cultural and historical differences.
Start learning some Portuguese before you book that trip to a sunny beach! Reytingo offers a fast, fun and easy way to learn.