European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese?

Just as in previous posts we looked at the differences that exist in a single language depending on the region where it’s spoken, in this post we’ll analyze the differences that we may come across when we take on a project in Portuguese.

Although Portuguese is a language that is spoken in various countries, from South America to Asia, the vast majority of translations are requested for Brazilian and European Portuguese. And though we know that Portugal colonized Brazil and that, as a result, they share the same language, the two countries were influenced by diverse geographic and cultural factors, and therefore, the Portuguese and the Brazilians live and communicate in different ways. Thus, for example, we may mention the linguistic influence exerted by Napoleon’s invasion in 1807 of Portugal, or in Brazil’s case, the influence of the African slaves who arrive in the colonial era, as well as the numerous communities of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants who put down roots in the country over the course of time.

Hence, among the many differences we encounter between these two variants, we can mention the following:

1) One of the most notorious differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese is the use of the second person singular. In Brazil it’s common to use “você,” while in Portugal “tu” is used.

2) In Brazil, for the present continuous they use the verb “estar” plus the gerund (“estou caminhando,” meaning “I’m walking”); in Portugal, on the other hand, they use “estar” plus the infinitive verb (“estou a camnihar,” once again meaning “I’m walking”).

3) With regard to verb conjugations, one of the major differences is the use of the mesoclisis (this grammatical phenomenon occurs in the future tense and consists of placing the atonal oblique pronouns – “me,” “te,” “se,” etc. –  in the middle of the verb, for example: “avisar-vos-emos,” meaning “we will advise you/let you know.” In Portugal this tendency is still maintained, while in Brazil it has fallen into disuse. The same thing happens with the placement of the atonal pronouns: while in Portugal the tendency is to place them after the verb (“Vende-me a tua casa,” meaning “Sell me your home”), in Brazil the tendency in informal writing is to place them before the verb (“Me vende a sua casa,” once again meaning “Sell me your home”).

4) Likewise, with technological advances, Brazilians have incorporated increasingly more Anglicisms and interferences from English. We can cite as an example the verb “acessar,” meaning “to access,” which is used in Brazil, while in Portugal the influence from French prevails and they use “aceder,” also meaning “to access.”

5) There are also various words that are written differently in Portugal and in Brazil. For example, in Portugal they write “Egipto” for Egypt, “facto” for fact/event, “actor” and “actriz” for actor and actress, while in Brazil the write these same words “Egito,” “fato,” “ator,” “atriz.”

6) On the other hand, there are also phonetic differences in the pronunciation and intonation of words. In Portugal the way they talk is more closed and rigid, while in Brazil they speak in a more nasal and open manner.

Thus, we see that there are important differences that we must consider before we decide to have our work translated. The main issue to bear in mind is to properly identify which audience we are addressing. In this regard, Trusted Translations has an experienced group of Portuguese translators that bring together the necessary tools and qualities to exceed our clients’ expectations. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to request a quote and to clear up any questions on the matter.