Portuguese lessons in Bristol, England

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World Impact


The cultural influence of Brazilian Portuguese in the rest of the Portuguese-speaking world has greatly increased in the last decades of the 20th century, due to the popularity of Brazilian music and Brazilian soap operas. Since Brazil joined Mercosul, the South American free trade zone, Portuguese has been increasingly studied as a second language in Spanish-speaking partner countries.

Many words of Brazilian origin (also used in other Portuguese-speaking countries) have also entered into English: samba, bossa nova, cruzeiro, milreis, capoeira, and especially marimba. While originally Angolan, the words "capoeira" and "samba" only became famous worldwide because of their popularity in Brazil.

After independence in 1822, Brazilian idioms with African and Amerindian influences were brought to Portugal by returning Portuguese-Brazilians (luso-brasileiros in Portuguese) [and some Amerindian Brazilians (índio-brasileiros in Portuguese), Afro-Brazilians (afro-brasileiros in Portuguese), mulatos, and cafuzos (known as zambos in English-speaking countries)], who brought rich culture mixed with African and Native American elements.






Characteristics of informal BP

The main and most general (i.e. not considering the various regional variations) characteristics of the informal variant of BP are:

*names accompanied by plural articles or numerals appear in the singular form (dois menino instead of dois meninos, as mulher instead of as mulheres);

*dropping of "es" in the verb estar in all the conjugations (ele tá instead of ele está, nós távamo(s) instead of nós estávamos);

*dropping of the required prepositions before conjunctions in the beginning of subordinate and relative clauses (Ele precisa que vocês ajudem instead of Ele precisa de que vocês ajudem);

*replacement, as a whole, of haver by ter when it means "to exist" or "there to be" (há muitos problemas na cidade, "there are many problems in the city", isn't unlikely, but is much rarer than tem muitos problema(s) na cidade);

*disuse of third-person object pronouns, which are replaced by their respective personal pronouns (eu vi ele instead of eu o vi);

*disuse of the second-person verb forms (except for a few parts of Brazil) and, depending on the region, eventual disuse of the plural third-person forms, mostly among the low classes (tu cantas becomes tu canta or você canta; eles comeram may or not become eles comeu);

*disuse of the relative pronoun cujo/cuja, which is replaced by either que isolated - the possessive idea becomes somewhat implied - or que accompanied by a possessive pronoun or expression, such as dele/dela (A mulher cujo filho morreu veio aqui becomes A mulher que o filho [dela] morreu veio aqui);

*frequent use of singular third-person a gente instead of plural first-person person nós, though both are formally correct and nós is still much used (uneducated speakers may confuse the two forms, rendering the rarer but still frequent conjugation a gente fazemos instead of a gente faz);

*exclusive use of proclisis in all cases (always me disseram, rarely disseram-me), as well as use of the pronoun amidst two verbs in a verbal expression (always vem me treinando, never me vem treinando or vem treinando-me);

*contraction of some expressions to shorter forms, which isn't necessarily unaccepted by the standard BP and is often a regional or restricted phenomenon (para > pra; vamos embora > bora; em vocês, para vocês > n'ocês, p'r'ocês; dependo de ele ajudar > dependo d'ele ajudar; maior > mó etc.)


Portuguese in Brasil

Brazilian Portuguese (language code pt-BR; Portuguese: português brasileiro or português do Brasil) is a group of Portuguese dialects written and spoken by virtually all the 189 million inhabitants of Brazil and by a few million Brazilian emigrants, mainly in the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, Japan, and Paraguay.

Roughly speaking, the differences between European Portuguese and standard Brazilian Portuguese are comparable to the ones found between British and standard American English. As with many languages, the differences between standard Brazilian Portuguese and its informal vernacular are quite significant, though lexicon and most of the grammar rules remain the same.

The Brazilian formal written standard, which is defined by law and international agreements with other Portuguese-speaking countries, is actually very similar to the European one; but there are some differences in spelling, lexicon, and grammar. European and Brazilian writers also have markedly different preferences when choosing between supposedly equivalent words or constructs.

Nevertheless, the comparatively recent development of Brazilian Portuguese - and its original use by people of various roots -, the cultural prestige and strong government support accorded to the written standard has maintained the unity of the language over the whole of Brazil and ensured that all regional varieties remain fully intelligible. Starting in the 1960s, the nationwide dominance of TV networks based in the southeast (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) has made the dialects of that region into an unofficial spoken standard for the means of communication, as well.

  Has the language changed a lot ?

Influences from other languages

The evolution of Brazilian Portuguese has certainly been influenced by the languages it supplanted: first the Amerindian tongues of the natives, then the various African languages brought by the slaves, and finally the ones of European and Asian immigrants. The influence is clearly detected in the Brazilian lexicon, which today has hundreds of words of Tupi-Guarani and Yoruba origin, among others. However, the vocabulary is still overwhelmingly Portuguese, since the contributions of other languages were restricted to a few subjects or areas of knowledge. From South America, words deriving from the Tupi-Guarani language family are particularly prevalent in place names (Itaquaquecetuba, Pindamonhangaba, Caruaru, Ipanema). The native languages also contributed for the names of most of the plants and animals found in Brazil, such as arara ("macaw"), jacaré ("South American alligator"), tucano ("toucan"), mandioca ("manioc"), abacaxi ("pineapple"), and many more. However, it should be noted that many Tupi-Guarani toponyms didn't derive directly from Amerindian expressions, but were in fact coined by European settlers and Jesuit missionaries, who used the Língua Geral extensively in the first centuries of colonization. Many of the Amerindian words entered the Brazilian Portuguese lexicon as early as in the 16th century, and some of them were eventually borrowed by European Portuguese and later even into other European languages. The African languages provided hundreds of words too, especially in the following subjects: food (e.g. quitute, quindim, acarajé, moqueca), religious concepts (mandinga, macumba, pombagira, macumba, orixá, axé), African-Brazilian music (samba, lundu, maxixe, berimbau) , body-related parts and diseases (banguela, bunda, capenga, caxumba), places (cacimba, quilombo, senzala, mocambo), objects (miçanga, abadá, tanga) and household concepts, such as cafuné ("caress on the head"), curinga ("joker card"), and caçula ("youngest child"). Though the African slaves had various ethnic origins, the Bantu and Guinean-sudanese groups contributed by far to most of the borrowings, above all the Quimbundo (from Angola), Quicongo (from Congo), Yoruba/Nagô (from Nigeria), and Jeje/Eue (from Benin). There are also many borrowings from other European languages such as English (especially words connected to technology, modern science and finance), French (food, furniture, and luxurious fabrics and concepts), German and Italian (mostly foods and music), and, to a lesser extent, Asian languages such as Japanese. The latter borrowings are also mostly related to food and drinks or culture-bound concepts, such as ‘’quimono’’, from Japanese kimono. Besides, there were many Italian loan words and expressions which aren't related to food or music: (italianisms) like tchau, imbróglio, bisonho, panetone, é vero, cicerone, male male.  Due to its large Italian diaspora, parts of the Southern and Southeast states have an Italian influence over the  vocal patterns of the language, with an Italian sounding stress.

Written and spoken languages

The written language taught in Brazilian schools has historically been based on the standard of Portugal, and Portuguese writers have often been regarded as models by Brazilian authors and teachers. Nonetheless, this closeness and aspiration to unity was in the 20th century severely weakened by nationalist movements in literature and the arts, which awakened in many Brazilians the desire of a true national writing uninfluenced by standards in Portugal. Later on, agreements were made as to preserve at least the orthographical unity throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, including the African and Asian variants of the language (which are typically more similar to EP, due to a Portuguese presence lasting into the end of the 20th century).

On the other hand, the spoken language suffered none of the constraints that applied to the written language. Brazilians, when concerned with pronunciation, look up to what is considered the national standard variety, and never the European one. Moreover, Brazilians in general have had very little exposure to European speech, even after the advent of radio, TV, and movies. The language spoken in Brazil has evolved largely independently of that spoken in Portugal.

Formal writing

The written Brazilian standard differs from the European one to about the same extent that written American English differs from written British English. The differences extend to spelling, lexicon, and grammar. Several Brazilian writers were awarded with the highest prize of the Portuguese language. The Camões Prize awarded annually by Portuguese and Brazilians is often regarded as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Literature for works in Portuguese.

João Cabral de Melo Neto, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Rachel de Queiroz, Jorge Amado, Antonio Candido, Autran Dourado, Rubem Fonseca, João Paulo Cuenca, Clarice Lispector and Lygia Fagundes Telles are Brazilian writers recognized for writing the most outstanding work in the Portuguese language.


"8 Myths" about the language:

1.There is a striking uniformity in Brazilian Portuguese;

2.Nearly all Brazilians speak very poor Portuguese while in Portugal people speak it very well;

3.Portuguese is extremely difficult;

4.People that have had poor education can't speak anything correctly;

5.In the state of Maranhão people speak a better Portuguese than elsewhere in Brazil;

6.We should speak as closely as possible to the written language;

7.The knowledge of grammar is essential to the correct and proper use of a language;

8.To master Standard Portuguese is the path to social promotion.


In opposition to these "myths":

1.The uniformity of Brazilian Portuguese is just about what linguistics predicts for such a large country whose population has not generally been literate for centuries and which has experienced considerable foreign influence, that is, this uniformity is more apparent than real.

2.Brazilians speak Standard Portuguese poorly because, in fact, they speak a language that is sufficiently different from SP so that the latter sounds almost "foreign" to them. In terms of comparison, it is easier for many Brazilians to understand someone from a Spanish-speaking South American country than someone from Portugal because the spoken varieties of Portuguese on either side of the Atlantic have diverged to point of nearly being mutually unintelligible.

3.No language is difficult for those who speak it. Difficulty appears when two conditions are met: the standard language diverges from the vernacular and a speaker of the vernacular tries to learn the standard version. This divergence is the precise reason why spelling and grammar reforms happen every now and then.

4.People with less education can speak the vernacular or often several varieties of the vernacular, and they speak it well. They might, however, have trouble in speaking SP, but this is due to lack of experience rather than to any inherent deficiency in their linguistic mastery.

5.The people of Maranhão are not generally better than fellow Brazilians from other states in speaking SP, especially because that state is one of the poorest and has one of the lowest literacy rates.

6.It is the written language that must reflect the spoken and not vice versa: it is not the tail that wags the dog.

7.The knowledge of grammar is intuitive for those who speak their native languages. Problems arise when they begin to study the grammar of a foreign language.

8.Rich and influential people themselves often do not follow the grammatical rules of SP. SP is mostly a jewel for powerless middle-class careers (journalists, teachers, writers, actors, etc.).

Whether Bagno's* points are valid or not is still open to debate (especially the solutions he recommends for the problems he identifies). Whereas some agree that he has captured the feelings of the Brazilians towards their own linguistic situation well, his book (Linguistic Prejudice: What it Is, How To Do) has been heavily criticized by some linguists and grammarians, due to his daring and unorthodox claims, sometimes even regarded as based on biased or unproven claims.

*Marcos Bagno: " Linguistic Prejudice: What it Is, How To Do"











Some Regional Dialects:






Paulista (Paulistano)

Click on the image for more beautiful photos! Thanks Carlos!


As in all Brazil, the language spoken by the vast majority of the population is Portuguese. Due to the large influx of Italian immigrants, the Portuguese spoken in the city reflects a significant influence from the languages of the Italian peninsula, particularly from Neapolitan and Venetian. The Italian dialects mixed with the countryside Caipira accent of São Paulo; some linguists maintain that the São Paulo dialect of Portuguese was born in Mooca, a neighborhood settled in the early 20th century mainly by people from Naples, Southern Italy. Other languages spoken in the city are mainly among the Asian community: Liberdade neighborhood is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Although today most Japanese Brazilians can speak only Portuguese, some of them are still fluent in Japanese. Some people of Chinese and Korean descent are still able to speak their ancestral languages. However, most of the Brazilian-born generations only speak Portuguese. English and Spanish are taught as foreign language in most schools, although only a  very small percentage of residents exhibit a high degree of fluency in either language.





Click on the image for more beautiful photos! Thanks Carlos!


Carioca (pronunciation (help·info)) is a Portuguese adjective or demonym word that refers to the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The original word "Kara'i oca" comes from the indigenous Amerindian language of the Tupi people, meaning "White Man's House". It is said that the first Portuguese dwellings in Rio de Janeiro were placed along a limpid stream, which soon got the Portuguese name "Carioca". According to a survey published in American Scientist Magazine, the Cariocas of Rio de Janeiro exhibited great friendliness and offered to help in various situations. A quote from the article mentioned pointed to the following : “ There is an important word in Brazil: simpático ( ...) It refers to a range of desirable social qualities - to be friendly, nice, agreeable, and good-natured. A person who is fun to be with and pleasant to deal with.... Brazilians, especially the Cariocas of Rio (as citizens here are known), want very much to be seen as simpático. And going out of one's way to assist strangers is part of this image”. The variety of Brazilian Portuguese language spoken in the city of Rio de Janeiro is called "Carioca". In written form, the carioca dialect follows the standard Brazilian Portuguese influence. The carioca speech, on the other hand, has several distinctive traits, such as in the pronunciation of "s" and "r" before a consonant: "s" is pronounced like "sh" and "r" is aspirate, like "h" in English, and also the strong palatization of the syllables "ti","di", "te" and "de".





Click on the image for more beautiful photos! Thanks Chris.Diewald!


Caipira (in English, "hillbilly", or "country people") is a Brazilian Portuguese term used to designate inhabitants of rural, remote areas of some Brazilian states. It refers to the people of lesser schooling. It can be considered pejorative when used to describe others, but it can also be used as a self-identifier without negative connotations. It often carries the connotation of an uneducated (at times naïve) person, and someone who can't speak proper Portuguese. In festas juninas it is traditional in some areas for people who are not considered as such to dress up as stereotypical Caipiras. It is also used as a name for a dialect or group of dialects of Portuguese spoken in the states of São Paulo and neighboring areas in Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, the south of Minas Gerais, and part of Paraná. By extension, the term caipira can also be applied to the different cultural manifestations of the caipiras, such as their music. Although the caipira dialect originated in São Paulo, the current language in São Paulo City, capital of the state of São Paulo, is a very different variety close to standard Portuguese, albeit with large Italian-influenced elements. Caipira is spoken mostly in the countryside.  Despite the  differences, a speaker of standard Portuguese has no great difficulty understanding caipira. Like other Portuguese dialects in Brazil, caipira has never been considered a separate language. It  is considered as a coloquial mode of Portuguese.






If you are interested in listening to native Portuguese speakers not only from Brazil but from other parts of the world please click the image below:






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