Often confused with Spanish, the Portuguese language is the official language in 9 countries: Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Portuguese spread across the world during a period of Portuguese discoveries, which lasted from the end of the 15th century to the 18th century. Currently, there are over 250 million people who either speak Portuguese as their native language or as their second language.
Characteristics of the Portuguese Language
Called “the sweet and gracious language” by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who is highly regarded as perhaps the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists, the Portuguese language deserves as much of our attention as its cousin, Spanish.
In the 1991 census, 99.8% of the population of São Tomé and Príncipe stated Portuguese as their primary language. Most speakers of Portuguese are located in Brazil, followed by Mozambique, Angola, and, finally, Portugal. Portuguese is being taught in schools in Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Zambia, the Republic of Congo, Senegal, Namibia, Swaziland, and South Africa.
The stressed vowels of Vulgar Latin are preserved by Portuguese, and it’s also one of a few Romance languages that preserve the Latin synthetic pluperfect tense. The influence of Latin is even more apparent when one studies the lexicon of the Portuguese language. Indeed, the better command one has over Latin, the easier it is to learn Portuguese.
Reasons to Learn the Portuguese Language
Many people decide to learn Portuguese because they would like to live in Brazil. Despite its current social-economic problems, Brazil is undergoing a record-breaking transformation, with an average annual growth of 8%. The low cost of living attracts people in retirement, who would like to enjoy Brazil’s warm climate and attractive tourist destinations.
According to estimates from UNESCO, there will be 335 million speakers of Portuguese by 2050. As Brazil’s economy becomes stronger, multinational corporations will look for people who can speak the language. Learning Portuguese is likely a very good way how to secure a stable job in the near future.
How to Learn Portuguese
For people living in Europe or Asia, it might be very difficult to move to a country where Portuguese is the official language, even for a short while. Fortunately, Portuguese is the fifth most common language on the internet, making it easy to consume native material and interact with native speakers of Portuguese from anywhere in the world.