Maybe you know that Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, but maybe not that it is the seventh most spoken language in the world, the third most spoken language in Europe and presenting some words similar to Spanish, Italian and even French, as it all is derived from Latin.
The majority of Brazilians don’t know the history of the language and its relationship with the other diverse languages spoken in Brazil before the arrival of the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Álvares Cabral in the year 1500. According to historians, when Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese, there were more than 1,000 languages in the country spoken by indigenous of diverse ethnicity.
Portuguese is one of the most important political and economical languages of Europe, as well as South America, Africa and East Timor. It is a language that allows its speakers to understand about 85% of Spanish, 45% of Italian and 25% of French. Portuguese is considered a very important language because it is estimated that by the year 2020 Brazil will be the third or fourth largest market in the world.
The Brazilian Portuguese that is currently spoken has seen a natural evolution that all languages suffer over time. It is worth mentioning that when Pombal decreed the obligatory use of Portuguese in Brazil, the Brazilians had already incorporated diverse words of native origin, such as names of plants, fruits and animals derived from tupinambá, into the vocabulary. Some exemples include caatinga, caju, capim, capivara, carnaúba, cupim, curió, ipê, jabuticaba, jacarandá, mandacaru, cassava, maracujá, piranha, and the famous pineapple – abacaxi.
Other native words incorporated into the Portuguese language of Brazil are Aracajú, Avai, Guanabara, Guaporé, Jabaquara, Jacarepaguá, Jundiaí, Parati, Piracicaba, Tijuca – mostly of this words are names of cities and neighborhoods. It is also worth noting that the native influence regained good will with the creation of idiomatic expressions/ ties that are used today, such as “andando na pindaíba (the expression means someone that is broken or face up a bad financial time) or “esta de tocaia” (that means “hidden” or someone waiting “behind the scene”).
The Africans of the Bantu and Yoruba groups brought their own legacy to the culture of the country through their distinct musical rhythms such the samba and frevo. The Afro-Brazilian cuisine is comprised of dishes such as quindim, abará, acarajé and vatapá, all with strong African influences. Candomblé is a very strong religion in Brazil where one relies on gods called “orixás” such yemanja, oxum and iansã. Quimbundo, a language spoken in Angola, brought to the Brazilian Portuguese words with a familiar vocabulary, such as caçula, cafuné and moleque. And there are terms that express a way of life and the dances of the slaves, like senzala, maxixe and capoeira, which were also incorporated into the vocabulary.
After the independence of Brazil in 1822, the slave traffic diminished, and stopped completely in 1850. At that point, many European immigrants such as Germans and Italians came to the country in the beginning of twenty century. This contact of Brazilian Portuguese with other languages was one of the factors that produced the diverse regional varieties of language that exist today in Brazil. For example, Portuguese of the northeast, in states such as Bahia and Pernambuco, has a large indigenous and African linguistic influence. In states of South such as Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul due to climates similar to their homelands, was the perfect home for Italian and German immigrants, and consequently, also a linguistic influence.
Most recently, English words was also incorporated by influences of cinema, TV and new habits of the modern world such as Fitness, Gym, Online, Happy Hour, Halloween, Black Friday and more. The Brazilian vocabulary has become more internationalized in the last years or rather, a “new mixed vocabulary” is more common to hear. At least in the big Brazilian cities. In relation to Portuguese of Portugal, we can say that our vocabulary is identical, but that the phonetic differences are noticeable. The fact is that Portuguese has become a language of global communication and has a great future because it offers great possibilities to jobs, business and social interaction associated with the globalized world.