terça-feira, 1 de setembro de 2015

What's the difference between Brazilian and European Portuguese?

What's the difference between Brazilian and European Portuguese?

Are Brazilian and European Portuguese two different languages or two sides of the same coin? To find out, we consulted the most reputable source we know: hand puppets!


For many, Portuguese is a language spoken in several countries around the world in the exact same way. But for native speakers, the awareness of national differences is acute. Let’s investigate some of the differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese.


Brazilian Portuguese is phonetically pleasing to the ear with its open vowels, whereas European Portuguese sounds somewhat mumbled and doughy. Brazilian accents have a lilting and strong cadence to foreign ears, making BP initially easier to learn and understand. European Portuguese is a challenge for non-natives and it’s quite possible you will have a hard time being understood on the other side of the Atlantic, where EP will lead you to the occasional misunderstanding.

Grammar and spelling

Some words are spelled differently. For instance, reception in EP is “receção”, whereas BP adds an audible p to the spelling of “recepção”. This is applicable to words where the letter p is audible in BP and silent in EP.
Brazilians are also creative with their use of Portuguese, turning some nouns into verbs. To congratulate requires two verbs in Portuguese - “dar os parabéns” - whereas Brazilians simply turn the noun “parabéns” into a verb - “parabenizar” - and move on.
Another interesting fact is the assimilation of foreign words into BP written with a phonetic twist. Media (as in mass media) is “mídia” in BP and “media” in EP; BP takes the word from American English and ignores its Latin roots. EP adopts it from Latin and keeps the original spelling. Generally speaking, European Portuguese is mostly resistant to change and precious about assimilating foreign words.

Formal and informal speech

In Brazil, addressing others in formal and informal contexts is made easy with the use of “você”, bringing it closer to the classless universality of you in the English language – whereas in Portugal, “tu” is used exclusively for friends, family and in casual situations.
Formal and informal speech can be very confusing for a Brazilian immigrant in Portugal. If you confuse “tu” with “você” in EP, you will fail to get on people’s good graces and will come off as impolite, rude and even aggressive. It’s even more confusing when you understand that the Portuguese don’t utter “você” explicitly: it sounds crude, so they remove the pronoun and conjugate the verb using the third person singular.


Some words are completely different in both languages. Here’s a handy list:
BR Portuguese
EU Portuguese
Train - Trem - Comboio
Bus - Ônibus - Autocarro
Suit - Terno - Fato
Buttocks - Bunda - Rabo
Ice Cream - Sorvete - Gelado
Cup - Xícara - Chávena
Refrigerator - Geladeira - Frigorífico
Brown - Marrom - Castanho

Many of these differences are dumbfounding to speakers from different continents and may occasionally lead to a communication breakdown. Brazilians might complain that they fail to understand their European siblings and the Portuguese might end up growling about Brazilians’ callous and uncouth (mis)use of grammar.
It’s perhaps more accurate to say that the same language has evolved in different ways due to cultural and historical differences. Brazil is mostly perceived to be a multicoloured, multicultural and multireligious country – whereas Portugal is mostly perceived to be white and monocultural. But these perceptions also merit some debate.

So which kind of Portuguese should I learn?

Think about where you will be working, studying or traveling. Do you find certain sounds to be more appealing than others? What do you consider most alluring: Brazilian or Portuguese culture? Where would you prefer to live, if you were given the chance? Do you have friends in any of these countries?
Bear in mind that whatever your choice might be, it is still the same language, so you will be able to read books published in both countries and generally communicate with people with little effort. Don’t let tiny obstacles get in the way of communication between cultures.

Start learning some Portuguese before you book that trip to a sunny beach!
Babbel offers a fast, fun and easy way to learn.

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