What Languages are Spoken in Brazil?
Brazil is one of the largest countries in South America according to its population and geographic location. It is native to 209 million people. Brazil has the largest city named Sao Paulo which is the largest city in South America. Moreover, it is the largest city in the world. It is a most diverse country with the resources of different species of animals and plants. It has alluring tourist spots because of its mesmerizing national parks, beaches, and most of all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. Approximately 204 million people speak Portuguese. Therefore, it is the world’s largest Portuguese-speaking country next to Angola and Mozambique. Let’s have a look at what other languages people speak in Brazil.
Indigenous Languages Spoken in Brazil
When we dive into history then we come to know that the Portuguese landed on the coast of IIha de Vera Cruz, the island of the true cross in 1500. They changed its name to Terra de Santa Cruz first and then changed it to Brazil. The fleet of Pedro Alvares Cabral, on his way to India, landed at Porto Seguro in Bahia.
Therefore, these Portuguese encountered the native people of those lands, the Tupi tribes which speak old Tupi. These tribes speak almost similar languages. Therefore, they represent the native people of the Portuguese.
This shows that the Tupi and Portuguese ignored all the native languages of Brazil. The Tupi considered the other languages Tapuya which means empty or barbarian in old Tupi.
When the colonizers arrived in Brazil, they spoke approximately 1500 dialects and languages that are similar to each other. To understand the different languages of Brazil, anthropologists and scholars categorized them into different groups, also called language trunks.
The two main trunks of languages that exist in Brazil are Macro-je and Tupi. The group of families in Tupi includes Monde, Guarani, and Tupi. The language most spoken at that time is Tupi by the Guarani family. The tribes of Guarani and Tupi can communicate with other tribes easily.
The languages of Tupi and Guarani families are also spoken in other South American countries like Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia. Some isolated languages within the language trunks do not belong to any family. Satere and Mawe are the isolated languages in the Tupian trunk.
They are spoken in the same tribe and are associated with the Guarana vine that came into being by harvesting the berries for consumption and is used as an energy drink. The isolated language in the Macro language includes Karaja, Je Bororo, and Je Trunk. Moreover, the other isolated languages are Guato and Ofaya.
The Europeans that first arrived in Brazil learned to speak the old Tupi from the Guarani family. These people are Jesuit missionaries that learned the language so that they can spread their religious views among the tribes that follow their rituals and traditions.
When Brazil was discovered, there were over 1000 different native languages but now only 200 languages exist. According to scholars, this sad decline is because of extermination, enslavement, epidemics, and colonization.
At present, many shreds of evidence show that there are few languages spoken in Brazil. For instance, in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, the Nheengatu is the official language spoken along with Portuguese. It is the old dialect of Old Tupi but now it is greatly influenced by Portuguese.
The European settlers when emerged with native people and with Jesuit missionaries and African slaves resulted in the emergence of the language called Lingua Geral. It is mostly used in Sao Paulo, which is in the South of Brazil. It comprises Tupi asutral or Southern Tupi.
In Amazon, the language spoken was tupinamba. It is the sister language of Ntheengatu. Both these languages are simplified versions of Old Tupi. Many isolated tribes don’t interact with the outside world. Therefore, there may be so many languages that we are not aware of. Some of these languages are surviving and some are getting extinct.
Today many languages in Brazil are surviving because they have taken many loanwords from native languages like English, French, and Portuguese. Many English words are from Portuguese. People use these words to describe food and animals. Before the colonization of Brazil, people didn’t use these words. Therefore, these words are also taken from native languages.
Brazilian Portuguese is the set of dialects that people use in their daily conversation. It is one of the most influential languages in the world. Portuguese is native to 205 million people residing in Brazil. Out of them, 10 million people reside in Portugal. This shows that 99 percent of the population speaks Portuguese.
You can say that the Brazilian Portuguese has taken their existence after the colonizers. Apart from a large number of native people, around 17.5% of people don’t speak Portuguese. To your surprise, Portuguese is still the official language of public education, media, and government authorities. At present, the media has mitigated the influence of regional intricacies, and Brazil’s Portuguese have taken the lead.
The people of Brazil speak different Portuguese languages. They have a little variance regarding the use of personal nouns, pronouns, vocabulary, accent, and verbal conjugations. The national network television of Brazil sorted the variations. The Portuguese language in the standard form follows the standard rules of spelling.
Moreover, modification is done to make the language simpler. The written form of Brazilian Portuguese is different from the verbal language. Moreover, the minority of the population, especially the most educated cream of the city used it.
The grammar rules in the Portuguese language are very complex but at the same time, they are more flexible than other languages. Therefore, many immigrants and tourists that come to Brazil face difficulty in writing the language, although they can speak it.
Differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese
Are you traveling to Algarve or Liston or if you are traveling to Fortaleza or Minas Gerais then you will be surprised to notice that people of Algarve or Liston speak different versions of Portuguese from the people in Fortaleza or Minas Gerais. Some people are of the view that the people of Portugal have a thicker accent and they speak faster.
The linguists noticed this difference in 1700. Some linguists have used the word colonial lag to describe the difference between Brazilian and European Portuguese. The Napoleonic era has a great impact on the Portugal dialect. Moreover, it has little influence on the colony Portuguese.
There is no difference in the Portuguese language from the time when they landed on Brazilian shores. The other factor that has influenced the Brazilian Portuguese is the geographical distance between Brazil and Portugal. Every minute change in the language in Portugal has to reach Brazil which is 7000 km away.
The interesting thing to note is that the Portuguese of other countries are closer to European Portuguese because of colonization. The other reason is that they achieved independence after Brazil. Let’s take the example of Angola, it took independence from the Portuguese on November 11th, 1975. Portuguese influenced them during their historical development. Therefore, they witness more changes in the language.
Portuguese was the official Language of Brazil for 200 years since the colonizers landed. This created ample time for native and African populations to impact the language. The king of Portugal, Dom Joao invaded Portugal in 1808 and started residing in Brazil. This resulted in the coordination of two countries speaking different languages.
The influence on Brazilian Portuguese is more. The advent of new technology has also influenced the many new words and concepts spoken in Brazil. The Brazilian people have their own set of terminology to describe modern concepts.
For example, in Brazil, they used the word trem for train whereas the Portuguese called it a comboio. Similarly, the word for bus in Brazil is pronounced omnibus. Moreover, it is pronounced “autocarro” in the Portuguese language.
Last, of all, the immigrants that came to reside in Brazil in the mid-1800 like German, Polish, Japanese, and Spanish. Moreover, they influenced the Brazilian language to a great extent. If you get any chance of traveling to southern and central Brazil then you will notice how minute differences can influence the language.
Immigrant Languages in Brazil
According to the research, the second most spoken language in Brazil is German. The foremost thing to note is that there are more Italian immigrants present in Brazil than in German. So, the children of Italian people spoke Portuguese more than German. The facts show that 2/3 of the children of German parents spoke German at home.
On the other hand, only ½ of the Italian children spoke Italian at home. This shows it is easier for Italian people to speak Portuguese than German people. If you get the chance to travel to the south of Brazil, you will be amazed to see native European speakers that spoke Ukrainian, German, and Italian.
Therefore, native speakers are becoming bilingual. The other language of immigrants is Polish which is spoken in rural areas of Southern Brazil. In many areas of Southern Brazil, people speak Portuguese along with other languages. For example, 90% of the residents of the small city of President Lucena which is part of Rio Grande do sul speak a language called Hunsrik which is the German dialect.
Hunsrik is native to 3000,000 native speakers that reside in Brazil and some speakers reside in Venezuela, Paraguay, and Argentina. The people of Southern Brazil speak it as their main language.
The Italian Language Spoken in Brazil
Italian Brazilians are Brazilian citizens of Italian origin. They are the largest group of people living outside Italy. Sao Paulo is the largest city in the world with Italian immigrants. The other cities are the South eastern state of Minas Gerais from the Southern state of Rio Grande de Sul and Espirito Santo. Also, Southern Brazilian towns like Nova Veneza have 95% of their population of Italian origin. Of course, all these Italian immigrants speak Italian and Portuguese.
The German Language Spoken in Brazil
Although the figure shows that only 1.9% of the population of Brazil is German but to your surprise, German is the second-most reported language in Brazil. In 1940 people of Germany started migrating to Brazil. Up till today, German immigrants in Brazil have preserved their language. For fifty years, the famous newspaper, Brasil-Post, has been published in Sao Paulo. Moreover, many schools and municipalities in Brazil teach the German language
The Spanish Language Spoken in Brazil
You must be of the view that Spanish will be the most spoken language in Brazil but your guess is wrong. According to the ethnologist, there are around 460,000 Spanish speakers in Brazil. From 1880 till 1930 many people from Spain migrated to Brazil. They mainly migrated from Galicia, where both Spanish and Portuguese are mutually intelligible. Therefore, Spanish people easily emerged into the Brazilian culture.
Many countries wish to stand out among Latin American countries because of language differences. Spanish is one of the languages that is ranked at second or third number. Therefore, people like to speak more. The Brazilian and Spanish-speaking people when encountered resulted in the emergence of a pidgin language called Portunol.
The Japanese Language Spoken in Brazil
Brazil is home to the largest colony of Japanese outside Japan. It was as early as the beginning of the 20th century when Japanese nationals started migrating to Brazil. The two governments have bilateral agreements to promote migrations. So Japanese authorities encouraged people to migrate to Brazil as a national policy. They did that to combat poverty and overpopulation. People in rural areas in particular were urged to seek work in Brazil. Thus, early Japanese nationals reached Brazil as agricultural workers on a contract basis. Today, there are almost 1.5 million people in Brazil who are Japanese descendants.
The overwhelming number of Japanese-Brazilians live in the southern part of Brazil, in states such as Parana and Sao Paulo. Some Japanese also migrated to the northern part of the country, especially in the Amazonia and Para states in the 1930s. The migration to the Amazon region was at its peak after World War II. However, this migration does not represent more than 10% of the Japanese living in Brazil.
The English Language Spoken in Brazil
Although English is a lingua, Franca, the people of Brazil don’t speak it widely. English literacy is only 5% of the population. Therefore, it includes little masses that can speak fluent English. Moreover, a small chunk of middle-class, educated people and foreign tourists speak English. So, if you are an English speaker and want to communicate then you have to use the Portuguese language to address people. You can find English speakers in luxurious hotels in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Moreover, some people under the age of 35 can speak English.
Many countries give importance to their official language and use it to run the country’s operations. Moreover, they take pride in their official language and take all necessary measures to preserve it. Apart from the official language, people speak different languages around the world. These languages came into existence when people from around the world interact with each other. Although Portuguese is the official language of Brazil the immigrants that came to Brazil bring with them different languages like Italian, German, Spanish, and English.
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