14 amazing facts about the Portuguese Language
Are you curious about languages and especially about the Portuguese language? Portuguese is a fantastic language but still underestimated in a sort. Yet, speaking one of the most important Romance languages is a real asset for business and cultural purposes.
Let's discover together these amazing 14 facts about Portuguese, a relatively easy language to learn!
#1 Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world
Portuguese is spoken as an official language by 279 million people as a native language in eight countries and two cities. They are: Brazil (about 210 million speakers), Portugal (10 million speakers), São Tomé e Príncipe, Cabo Verde, Angola, Moçambique, Guinea Bissau, East Timor, Goa in India, and Macau in China!
#2 It is spoken on four continents
South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia! This is one of the few languages spread in so many different regions in the world thanks to the former Portuguese leadership in navigation and discoveries back in the 14th century.
#3 16.4% of the inhabitants in Luxembourg speak Portuguese
That's right. If you visit the richest and most multicultural country in Europe, you can be sure to hear Portuguese in the streets.
Luxembourg has only 600.000 inhabitants, but 16,3% of them have Portuguese backgrounds.
That's because the Portuguese represent the largest community of migrants in Luxembourg. Although European Portuguese is not one of the three official languages (they are Luxembourgish, German, and French), the administration makes some informative documents in Portuguese as well.
#4 Portuguese and Brazilian are the same language
It can be a little bit odd to refer to the Portuguese spoken in Brazil as Brazilian, as people don't use this term. It would be just like assuming that the French spoken in Quebec is Canadian, or the English spoken in the US is North American. Weird, right?!
That's why Brazilian Portuguese is the right term to use!
#5 Portuguese is a Romance Language
Romance languages are the languages that developed from Latin. The most spoken languages of this family together with Portuguese are Italian, Spanish, French, and Romanian.
Although people frequently refer to these five as the only romance (or Latin) languages, there are actually over one hundred other real romance languages, such as Galician, Catalan, and Provençal, which are not merely dialects.
#6 Portuguese comes from Galicia (in Spain)
Galicia is an autonomous region of Spain, which capital - Santiago de Compostela - lies a few kilometers away from Portugal.
The Galician language spoken in the Spanish Autonomous Region is from where Portuguese evolved.
This special region has its own language, Galician, which presents a lot of similarities with European Portuguese. Well, both languages have evolved from the same language, Vulgar Latin but, in the 14th century, they have split as the kingdom of Portugal was created. Galician would be influenced by the Spanish language and culture.
Simply speaking, Galician is a mix of Portuguese and Spanish, with 80% of its roots Portuguese-like.
#7 Portuguese speakers can understand Spanish and Italian
Because in both South America and Europe, the Portuguese and the Spanish-speaking countries share borders, these languages developed in a similar way to each other.
If we make a scale of the Romance languages, Italian would come right after Spanish as a comprehensive language for many Portuguese speakers, especially those from Southern Brazil.
#8 Portuguese is considered an easy language to learn
If you're into Latin languages, the great advantage is that learning one of them it becomes easier to learn others, especially in terms of grammar.
As a language teacher and someone who speaks four Romance languages, I'd say that Portuguese is a good start (or a good continuation) to learning this family of languages.
For example, the grammar and pronunciation in Portuguese are considered simpler and easier than in its cousins Italian and French.
by the way, you can download this PDF list of the 100 most common verbs in Portuguese and start learning it right now.
#9 Portuguese opens doors for your business
Do you want to increase your business? As we saw, the Portuguese language is the 6th most spoken language on the planet. But the benefits go beyond cultural purposes. You can both do business with a flourishing European nation (Portugal) and with the largest e-commerce market in Latin America as well as the fourth-largest internet market in the world (Brazil), as well as strong economies in Africa (Angola and Moçambique).
Brazil is a dynamic and young market, with 62% of its citizens being 29 or under. They're massively on social media and they've been purchasing more online than they do in-store.
#10 Arabic influence on Portuguese
Did you know that there are a bunch of Portuguese words that actually come from Arabic?
Why is that?
This interesting fact is due to the Moor occupancy in the Iberian peninsula until the 13th century.
Its influences remain in the languages (both Portuguese and Spanish), sciences, maths, and even in the Iberian cuisine.
"Al" is the definite article in the Arabic language. In Portuguese, you find this influence in many words: almofada (pillow), alface (lettuce), almoço (lunch).
Other words that evolved from Arabic are:
Álcool (Al-Kuhul) - Alcohol
Bairro (Al-Barri) - Neighborhood
Açúcar (As-Suqar) - Sugar
Acerola (Az zurura) - A popular fruit in Brazil
Cabide (Al-Qabbid) - Clothes hanger
Marfim ('Asm al-Fil) - Ivory
#11 Different accents in Portuguese
If you know a little bit about this language, it shouldn't be difficult to guess where a Portuguese speaker comes from by hearing his or her pronunciation.
Overall, Brazilian Portuguese natives speak with their mouths more open and the rhythm is more "melodic", while sounds in the European Portuguese accent will be produced with less space in the month, which impacts directly how the language sounds.
Watch the video and hear the differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese
#12 The longest Portuguese word has 46 letters
The longest word in this language is Pneumoultramicroscopicossilicovulcanoconiótico with 46 letters, which is the name of a lung disease caused by the inhalation of volcanic ashes.
# 13 Portuguese has two verbs to say to be
In Portuguese (and also Spanish, actually) there are differences in meanings when using the verb to be in English.
Ser means to be when talking about permanent and unchangeable features for people and objects. "Sou uma mulher" (I'm a woman), "ele é criança" (he is a kid), "a mesa é alta" (the table is high).
Estar has a meaning of temporality. It's a state. "Eu estou estudando" (I am studying), "ela está cansada" (she's tired), "o cachorro está doente" (the dog is sick).
#14 Speaking Portuguese will take you to amazing new cultures
Why learn a language if not to connect with more people around the world, right?!
Many people in Portuguese-speaking countries won't speak English, so learning how to get by with this language will make your experience visiting that place much more unforgettable!
Find out these 10 stunning destinations in Brazil that everyone should know.
After reading all these facts about European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, you're more familiar with this amazing language. What was the fact that struck you the most? Probably for me the main feature of Portuguese is how widely distributed this language is.
If you're more interested in learning the Portuguese language, you will enjoy our articles in Portuguese about language and culture. You can also book your first Portuguese lesson with me.