Why You Should Learn… Portuguese
No. 7: Portuguese
178 million native speakers, 193 million total speakers. Official language of Brazil, Portugal, Macau and 7 other countries in Africa, including Mozambique and Cape Verde.
I studied Portuguese for two years at university in Exeter and have taken up weekly classes again with a lovely Brazilian woman at work, Adriana. Already speaking Spanish and Italian does majorly help me, so despite the fact that I only took it up in 2009, I can hold a decent conversation in Portuguese, although I’m rapidly discovering that the languages spoken in Portugal and Brazil are vastly different! For a start, several letters are pronounced differently, then there are the grammatical differences, & last of all the vocabulary differs quite considerably.
Having had a Portuguese teacher at university, I initially tried to hold onto my European Portuguese accent. Looking at the facts however (11 million people in Portugal vs. 197 million people in Brazil) I’m starting to reconsider my logic. Add to that the fact that the population of Portugal is actually shrinking, and that the country is in deep recession, and it looks like I need to get a new accent! Brazil on the other hand is hot stuff. Not only is the economy growing, and now the sixth largest economy in the world, but the Football World Cup is being held there in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016. And have you seen the beaches?? Ever been tempted by Carnival??
As a country Brazil fascinates me, and learning the language is the first step to truly understanding it. And Lisbon is one of my favourite European cities. Although it may sound like Russian to the untrained ear, if you look at it written down you could mistake it for Spanish. The vocabulary and grammar is pure Romance language and descended from Latin, so if you have any grounding in Spanish then it’ll help you immensely. It’s not exactly ‘Buy One Language, Get One Language Free’, but not far off.
Top 5 Survival Phrases:
- Olá – Hello
- Obrigado/a – Thank you
- Como está você? – How are you?
- Não entendo português – I don’t understand Portuguese.
- Adeus – Goodbye
Although it’s not one of the “hard” languages, it’s not a particularly common language to study in schools and university, and because of this, my graduate friends who do speak Portuguese have all been snapped up by graduate employers pretty quickly. Employment-wise, it’s a safe bet. Subscribe to daily vocab emails from Portuguese Flashcards, and if you’re feeling flash you could invest in the Rosetta Stone software for Brazilian Portuguese, at a pricey £379 for the complete course. I’ve never actually tested Rosetta Stone’s method, but it consistently gets good reviews so it may be worth investing in. If you know of any other cheaper software out there then please do comment & let me know.
Next week I’ll be profiling the No.8 most spoken language: Russian.
[You can still vote below for the languages you’d most like to learn]