Portuguese Language

History

The Portuguese language is an Indo-European language that is part of the Romance stem. As it is a Romance language, many Portuguese words have their roots in the Latin. The Romans brought this language to the Iberian Peninsula in 216BC, where it branched out over the centuries into many different languages, one of them being Old Portuguese.

Originally spoken in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, Portuguese sailors in the Age of Exploration (the 16th century) travelled far and wide across the globe to colonize new areas of land. Many of these colonizations were successful, and brought the Portuguese language to many new places, particularly Asia and Africa.

By the 16th century, it was a lingua franca for both of these areas, used in trade, commerce and government, as well as by many of the common people. Due to Portuguese settlers marrying many of the local people, as the Portuguese people also brought with them the Catholic religion, the language spread rapidly at this time. Today, the Portuguese language is used all over the world, and as well as the direct Portuguese language itself, there are many Portuguese-based Creole languages that have developed, mostly in African and Asia.

Popularity

Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language, with around 240 million speakers worldwide. Around 210 million of these are native speakers of the language, as Portuguese is not only the official language of Portugal, but also in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and the Principality of Sao Tome. These countries together make up the CPLP, or Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

There are Portuguese speakers also in Goa, in India, and in Bermuda. It is also spoken to a degree in many U.S. states, such as New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York. It is also an official language for many organizations, such as the European Union, Mercosul, the African Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, and the Organization of American States. There is a current movement to make the Portuguese language an official language of the United Nations, but this is being contested on the grounds that Portuguese, while very widely spoken, is not actually the official languages of many of its countries. On account of the popularity of the Portuguese language, it is classed as being the fourth most learned language in the world. Many countries offer Portuguese as a language option. After the English language, it is also the fastest growing European language in the world.

Language

The Portuguese language sounds very similar to the Spanish language. The grammatical structure of sentences, vocabulary, and syntax are all very much the same, and it is only accent and pronunciation that really make the difference between these two languages. Thus, there is a high level of intelligibility between these two languages, and someone who understands one language will be able to understand much of the other language.

There are two main groups of dialects in the Portuguese language, and these are directly related to the countries of origin. Despite Portuguese originated in the area that we now know as the country of Portugal, Brazil is actually the country with the largest amount of Portuguese language speakers. Therefore, the two main dialect groups for the Portuguese language are Brazilian, and those of the Old World. These are identified as Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese. While these dialects are relatively easy to understand from one to the other, the colloquial forms of the Portuguese language, particularly that which is spoken in Brazil, can often be quite different from Standard Portuguese.

Why Learn The Portuguese Language?

The Portuguese language, as discussed, has a high level of intelligibility with Spanish. So by learning either the Spanish language or the Portuguese language, it is possible to understand both. While the Portuguese language has 240 million speakers, the Spanish language has around 500 million speakers, giving a combined total of around 740 million speakers.

Given that some speakers of each of these languages might also be counted as speakers of the other language, we can round this figure down to 700 million, but that is still a considerable percentage of the total of people on the planet, with that figure currently at around 6.91 billion. This language, therefore, is one of the most useful that you can learn, not only for travel and leisure, but for business as well.


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