Our professional Portuguese translators are at the ready to assist you in delivering your message into any one of the nine countries and one region where Portuguese is an official language!
Reach audiences in the huge market of Brazil or in any of the other Lusophone countries and regions including Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Macao, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe through an accurate rendering of your message in the form of Portuguese that is suitable for your target audience.
The world’s sixth most spoken language
The population of the entire Lusophone area (or countries where Portuguese is the most widely spoken) stood at 279 million in July 2017. The Lusophone diaspora adds another approximately 10 million people (4.5 million Portuguese, 3 million Brazilians, and some 500,000 Cape Verdeans, among others). More than 250 million people use Portuguese daily.
It’s also the second-most spoken language, after Spanish, in Latin America, one of the 10 most spoken languages in Africa and is an official language of the European Union, Mercosur, OAS, ECOWAS and the African Union.
The Community of Portuguese Language Countries is an international organization made up of all of the world’s officially Lusophone nations.
Brazilian Portuguese vs European Portuguese
Whether translating a press release, marketing report, or other document, Portuguese breaks into two basic types, Brazilian and European, with Brazilian the type to choose for the South American country and European to choose for Portugal and the rest of the Lusophone world.
The differences between the Brazilian and European versions of the language are quite stark – just ask the residents of either country. Though Brazil and Portugal share the greater part of the language, there are many variations in both spoken and written forms. In writing, the differences extend to vocabulary, use of pronouns, spelling, certain grammatical rules, and practice of adopting “loanwords” from other language.
The differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese can be even more pronounced than those between American and British English. Should you wish to send the same message or document into both European and South American markets, you will need two separate translations.
As for the other Lusophone markets, European Portuguese is generally used. Should your message be directed to a specific Lusophone country other than Brazil or Portugal, the messaging and exact type of Portuguese to be used can be tailored specifically to that market.
Should you have any questions or doubts about what type of Portuguese to use, please speak to one of our Language Matter Experts.
The many varieties of Portuguese and their impact in each country
Angolan Portuguese (português de Angola) consists of the dialects of the Portuguese language in use in Angola, where it is an official language. The 2016 CIA World Fact Book indicated that 47% of the population or 12.3 million claim Portuguese as their native tongue.
Many parents raise their children to speak only Portuguese. The results of the census taken in 2014 showed that 71% speak Portuguese at home, with the proportion increasing to 85% in urban areas and dropping to 49% in rural areas. There are several gradations of Portuguese in the country in a similar manner to other Portuguese-speaking nations in Africa.
Some 70% of all Lusophone speakers worldwide use Brazilian Portuguese (português do Brasil or português brasileiro), including nearly all of Brazil’s 200 million inhabitants and its almost three million-strong diaspora.
The Brazilian variant differs, particularly in phonology as well as in intonation, tone, stress, and rhythm, from the types spoken in Portugal and Portuguese-speaking African countries.
The variant of the language spoken in African countries honed much closer to contemporary European Portuguese, mainly due to Portuguese colonial rule ending much more recently there than in Brazil.
The many differences in the written form among the Portuguese speaking countries led the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) in 1990 to come to an agreement on the reform of the Portuguese orthography in a move to unify what had become two standards – one in use by Brazil and the other in use by all the other Portuguese-speaking countries.
Brazil formally adopted the newly-agreed to orthography on January 1, 2009 whereas Portugal, which made it the law on July 21, 2008, allowed for a six-year easing-in period.
Cape Verdean Portuguese
Although Portuguese is the official language, Cape Verdean Creole or Kriolu or Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, is the native tongue of nearly every inhabitant. Kriolu is the language of everyday speech, whereas Portuguese is used in formal situations, in education and by the media.
Portuguese and Kriolu co-exist in a continuum that is determined by the education and professional status of the speaker and the formality of the situation.
East Timorese Portuguese
After East Timor gained independence, on May 20, 2002, the country immediately joined the United Nations as well as the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. The new government instantly named Portuguese as one of the official languages alongside Tetum, a local language.
Although Portuguese is Guinea-Bissau’s only official language since independence, the standard form is spoken chiefly as a second language, with a relatively low number of native speakers.
According to the latest census in 2009, 27.1% of the respondents claimed to speak standard Portuguese (46.3% of the urban residents and 10.6% of the rural population). A Portuguese-based creole acts as the country’s lingua franca, with 44% saying that is their primary vehicle of communication.
A survey of the general population taken in 2017 indicates that Portuguese is used natively by 16.6% or some 3.6 million people. The percentage of the populace claiming it as their first language represents 38.3% of the urban dwellers but only 5.1% of rural inhabitants.
São Toméan Portuguese
São Tomé ranks third in terms of the percentage of Portuguese speakers (behind Portugal and Brazil), with more than 95% of the population using Portuguese, and more than 50% claiming it as a first language.
São Toméan Portuguese (português santomense or português de São Tomé) is quite similar to the Angolan type retaining many archaic features in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and syntax.
Portuguese in Equatorial Guinea
Although Spanish is the main language of communication, Portuguese was established as an official language in Equatorial Guinea in an 2010 effort by the government to enhance bilateral relations and trade with other Portuguese-speaking nations.
Portuguese in Macao
Despite Portugal handing sovereignty over Macau back to China on December 20, 1999, Portuguese has remained one of the official languages.
Choose the right kind of Portuguese for your translation
Contact one of our Language Matter Experts about selecting the appropriate variety of Portuguese and about the requirements for your translation or localization project.
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