European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese?
Wikipedia refers to Portuguese as “a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co‑official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China.”
This definition is very simplistic as it infers that anyone speaking Portuguese will be able to communicate at all levels in all the above-listed countries. However, linguists and other well‑informed Portuguese speakers will know Portuguese spoken in Brazil and Portugal are very different language variants. In fact, anyone from either of these countries will be amazed at the nuances and the different syntax, tone, spelling and terminology.
Therefore, although speakers of these two variants will be able to communicate, it is a fact that once they get into more detailed and technical conversations giggles and laughter will be recurrent as technical words vary greatly between the two. Syntax is also different, since, for example, different verb tenses are used in European and Brazilian Portuguese.
So, when authoring or translating texts for Portugal (including African Portuguese-speaking countries) or Brazil, it is essential to have such differences in mind to make sure the final text transmits the right idea using the appropriate syntax and terminology in use in the country. The two variants are not interchangeable at official and formal levels either. The many differences generated two very different language variants: European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.
As for the Portuguese language used in African Portuguese-speaking countries (also sometimes referred to as African Portuguese), one would say that there is a visible difference between spoken and written forms. The spoken form is a mix between European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and local dialects. The written form is formal and follows the European Portuguese variant rules for spelling, syntax and terminology. All African Portuguese‑speaking countries have adopted European Portuguese as their official language.
More recently, a spelling agreement was signed to standardise the spelling between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. This agreement is at different enforcement levels in the different countries, so it is advisable to check with a qualified linguist before making a decision on which spelling to use on each different occasion. At Monica Machado Translation Services we translate into European and African Portuguese and can advise you on any issues involving these variants.
Mónica Machado is an English into European Portuguese translator, specialised in Oil and Gas, Mining and Geology, Environment, Hydroelectric Power, HSE, Shipping and Business Legal Areas, working for Portugal and Portuguese-speaking African countries, such as Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe.
Image from Stock Photos
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