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Not "loose phones" -- lusophones!

Week 3, episode 5

You must have heard how, when teaching English, people refer mostly to two types of it: American and British. I honestly thought this kind of separation only applies to English. But if you think about it, why should English be unique really? And it's not.

The same thing happens to Portuguese—the second language on my path of Langventure. There are two types of it: Brazilian Portuguese and Portuguese Portuguese (or European Portuguese). And all the people who speak any type of Portuguese, either as native speakers or as learners, are called lusophones.

Similar to the example with English, for Portuguese language we have two countries divided by the ocean. The history of relations between Portugal and Brasil is quite exciting even for me—not a big fan of historical chronics. Though Brasil is much bigger than Portugal, it was Portugal that reigned the "party". And only because their prince fled to Rio de Janeiro escaping French invasion of Portugal and after that his son —next king— decided to stay in Rio, was the independency and power granted to Brasil, and since then Portugal's position as a global leader declined.

Portugal and Brasil have so many cultural differences, of course due to their historical evolution and influences. Same things affected the language causing occurence of new words, discrepancy in pronunciation, ways of talking and communication. Check out a short video highlighting main distinctive features of Portuguese and Brazilian (never mind the advert in the beginning, or just scroll 35 seconds forward).

And by the way, it may seem that Spanish and Portuguese are just alike. Well, in written language, there are many words in both languages that have same of similar spelling—surprise, surprise! But the pronunciation would be different. And because of this pronunciation, even if you know Spanish well, you are most likely to have enormous difficulties in understanding a Portuguese-speaking person, or you might even not understand a thing he or she says.

Portuguese has a whole new palette of sounds that Spanish speakers aren’t used to—the nazal sounds, strange way to pronoune "r", differences in the meaning of the words with similar pronunciation. The common knowledge says that it is easier for Portuguese-speaking people to understand Spanish than vice versa. I was to witness this in a conversation between a guy from Peru with no knowledge of Portuguese and a guy from Brazil with no knowledge of Spanish. Though they somehow came to understanding, it was mostly thanks to their gestures than actual speaking, and the Brazilian was quicker to capture the meaning of the sentences said in Spanish than the Peruvian who was struggling with interpreting Portuguese speech.

All in all, the scheme and idea of grammar is alike in both languages, as it is alike for Spanish and Italian, but there are differences, too. And deciding to learn a new language —Portuguese, Italian, Spanish,— even if one of them is known to you already, be prepared to put an effort. To sum up, take a quick look (3 minutes) on the video about differences between Spanish and Portuguese.

Go, go, lusophones! )))

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