Portuguese is a beautiful language spoken by an array of countries with rich cultures. The language has certainly left an impact on global history. However the language continues to be relevant today with the promise of even more influence in the near future.
Many languages like English, Spanish, Russian, and French steal much of the hype for being international languages. If you have a penchant for global travel Portuguese is also a language of choice. Why ?
It’s spoken across the world (Europe, Brazil, Africa, Asia)
When you think of the Portuguese language what countries come to mind? Portugal is the obvious choice, and Brazil isn’t that far behind it. But the reach of Portuguese goes far beyond these two countries.
Several countries on the African subcontinent list Portuguese as an official language, including Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. There’s even an autonomous territory in western China called Macau, which also speaks the language.
So how exactly did Portuguese end up in these far flung regions of the world? It was through the colonization of the Portuguese Empire (most people don’t even know that Portugal had an empire!). These Portuguese speaking nations were once colonial territories.
The number of Portuguese speakers around the world is also growing. It’s already the 6th most spoken language on the planet with around 260 million speakers. Some estimates say that by 2050 that number will have risen to 335 million.
When all this is coupled with the fact that there aren’t that many native English speakers who also speak Portuguese, you get a sense of the potential opportunities of someone learning Portuguese.
Little Portugal and pasteis da nata: The Diaspora of Portuguese
Many major cities around the world have vibrant and active Portuguese speaking communities. London, for example, has one of the largest, as does San Francisco, New York, Miami, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Luxembourg, Brussels, Athens, and Sydney. When you travel to these cities and others like them, you will be able to enjoy hidden treasures and out of the way enclaves that give you the opportunity to have experienced the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else.
Throughout the world, there is a highly unified Portuguese speaking extended culture known as the Lusofonian Sphere. These seemingly independent groups all share a common historical and cultural base that unifies them despite their distances and local customs. Very few other linguistic groups have been able to develop such a global common connection. When you learn to speak Portuguese you are placing yourself inside this sphere and that opens up the possibility of you being exposed to some of the most incredible cultures on the planet, no matter where on the planet you are.
Portuguese speakers are more than surprised and pleased when you show that you have learned their language, they have an intense respect for you. Of course, there is also a bit of pride that comes from being able to say that you are a speaker of an uncommon language that is far superior linguistically to what your peers speak. If you are looking for a language that sets you apart from the crowd, then Portuguese is it!