Translation musings: Brazilian Portuguese

Oct 12, 2015 | Uncategorized

brazilian-toucan-1381801-639x852After two Finno-Ugric languages, Finnish and Hungarian, today we are moving on to explore another one of our “office languages”, Brazilian Portuguese.

Portuguese – and so Brazilian Portuguese – is part of the Romance languages together with French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian, which all developed from Vulgar Latin. (Which doesn’t mean that they are distasteful languages; vulgar in this case refers to “common” or “vernacular”.) For the layman Portuguese might seem like a language quite similar to Spanish but it is actually more closely related to Galician as they are both West Iberian languages.

There are a large number of Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) countries; Brazil is the biggest one of them – and the only one in the English- and Spanish-dominated Americas.

Interestingly, up until a recently introduced orthographical reform, the letters k, w and y weren’t part of the Portuguese alphabet. Nowadays these letters are still only used in words with foreign origins, such as karaokê (meaning karaoke) or windsurfista (windsurfer).

Although they are mutually intelligible, there are several differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese that do not only affect pronunciation but to some extent vocabulary and grammar, too. Using a Brazilian Portuguese term in Portugal and vice versa could lead to humorous (and not-so-humorous) misunderstandings. This is why it is so important to choose the right variety if you decide on having some Portuguese translations done!

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