Translation and Language Industry Observations

Portuguese is spoken by about 250 Million people worldwide. It is possible for a Portuguese and a Brazilian to be able to converse with each other in an intelligible way. But this only happens with a certain effort on both sides. In general, the two understand each other because both Brazil and Portugal speak the same language.

In the translation industry, most of the work we do is intended for either Brazil or Portugal. Portuguese is spoken in a number of African countries as well. But most companies do not target their localization efforts to poor countries like Angola, even though Portuguese is spoken there by about 30 million people. Brazil is the largest country by population in South America (over 210 million strong) and is one of the world’s top 10 economies. Portugal is a member of the EU and has a population of over 10 million.

Why is Portuguese spoken in Brazil?

Brazil is the only South American country in which Portuguese is the official language. Spanish is the official language in nearly all of the other countries in South America. So why does Brazil speak Portuguese? Because it used to be part of the Portuguese empire and was a Portuguese colony until the 19th century.

Differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese

The Portuguese language can be broken down into two separate variations: Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese.  The Portuguese alphabet has 5 vowels and 18 consonants, or 23 letters in all.  The Portuguese alphabet does not make use of the letters K, W, or Y except in the instances of names and words derived from international sources. Translations that are done for Brazil can not be used in Portugal and vice versa. Additionally, people in Brazil may find it hard to understand the Portuguese spoken in Portugal and vice versa, since the pronunciation is markedly different.

Differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are multi-faceted.  However, a few consistent differences exist including the use of the acute accent more frequently in the European Portuguese and the use of the circumflex accent more frequently in the Brazilian Portuguese.  In the European Portuguese, some words are more frequently spoken in the plural form, whereas they are more frequently spoken in the singular form in Brazilian Portuguese.  This happens in particular when clothing is discussed.

Additionally, some words include the letter “c” in the European Portuguese, but do not include the letter in the Brazilian Portuguese.  Furthermore, in Brazilian Portuguese lowercase letters are used for the days of the week and the months of the year, while an uppercase letter is used for the days of the week and the months of the year in European Portuguese.

When learning any language for a second language, it is important to begin by learning the pronunciation of that language’s alphabet.  Several of the letters have more than one sound associated with them.  However, the letter “x” has, by far, the most variety when it comes to enunciation or how it sounds.

Several accent marks are employed with this language, including the acute accent, circumflex, grave accent, the tilde, and two dots.  Adding an accent to the letter changes the sound of the letter.  Similarities exist between Portuguese and English as far as particular endings for words.  Additionally, learning these endings can be helpful to learning the Portuguese language more quickly.

Additionally, many words exist that are spelled exactly the same or nearly the same in Portuguese and in English.  A few examples of exact spelling in the words are: area, crime, horror, and hotel.  Plus, a few of the words that are spelled nearly the same are shown here with their English counterpart: classe/class, arte/art, concerto/concert, lista/list, and mapa/map.

GTS provides English Portuguese translation services for both Portugal and Brazil. As Portugal is a member of the EU, we translate a lot of materials for medical device and pharmaceutical companies who require translations for their activities in Portugal. Translation of patents for local filing in Portugal is also one of the Portuguese services we provide for our clients.

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