Portuguese Language Origins-20 Interesting Facts

Portuguese Language Origins

When we look at any language, we see far more than just the spoken word. Language represents culture, power, communication, relationship, perception, identity, and much more. Language inextricably links all these principles together. The Travel Virgin unveils ‘Portuguese Language Origins-20 Interesting Facts About the Portuguese Language.’

The world has Over 7 111 languages, according to Ethnologue. Factors such as where the language came from, how it developed, what influential people used it, the culture of the time of development is all things that contribute to an interesting fact about a language. There are twenty interesting facts about the Portuguese language Portuguese that many people do not know.

Portuguese is a language spoken in many places around the globe and will not become absolute like Latin. French and German may seem popular with students but have fewer speakers. More people are speaking Portuguese than people studying.

Development of the Portuguese Language-Portuguese Language Origins

The Portuguese language has its origins in Latin, brought to the Iberian Peninsula by merchants and Roman soldiers. Portuguese is one of the Romance languages( not because it is romantic, but because it comes from the native language of Rome).  Most of the people living on the Iberian Peninsula were Celtic in the time of the Roman Empire.

Latin was adopted by The Celtic Tribe in Portugal embraced the language of the Roman soldiers and merchants. The Romans called Portuguese  Lusitana (meaning Latina). After the collapse of the Roman Empire, The Iberian Peninsula fell under the rule of Germanic people. Germans migrating to the peninsula adopted the Latin dialect of the Celtics. Words from the Germanic settlers are still evident in the Portuguese lexicon.

Tracing Its History

After the invasion by the moors, Arabic became the widely used and administrative language in the peninsula. The Christians, however, continued using a form of romance in the form of Mozarabic. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Portuguese also embraced many loan words from Greek, especially science and technology.

Portuguese as we know it today, in other words, has evolved from Galician-Portuguese (Old Clinician or Old Portuguese) of the Northwestern medieval Celtic Kingdom.

Portugal got their independence from the Kingdom of  León in 1139. King Denis of Portugal made Portuguese the official language of the people in 1290.  The Portuguese language spread to other nations and continents in the 15th and 16th centuries (known as the era of discoveries). Portuguese became the administrative language of many Portuguese colonies through Asia and Africa, and the Americas.

 Portuguese spread through the colonies as a result of mixed marriages between locals and Portuguese citizens.  Roman Catholic missionaries helped the spread of the language in the colonies. Many dialects called creole languages of Portuguese appeared in the colonies of Portugal.

 Portuguese continually borrowed words from Latin and Greek in their developmental stage during the 15th and 16th centuries.

20 Interesting Facts About the Portuguese Language.

1. Many people in the world speak Portuguese

During the period of Portuguese colonialism, Portuguese was spread far and wide across the globe. Linguists estimate that over 270 million people in the world speak Portuguese. Two Hundred, Twenty Million people claim it to be their native tongue.  Portugal and Brazil are well known for speaking Portuguese. There are many countries with historical ties to Portugal that speak Portuguese.

Contrary to the above, linguists estimate that only 76 – 78 million people speak French and German. French and German languages are also Neo-Latin languages. There are even fewer that claim it to be their mother tongue. There are, however, far more students than study French than Portuguese.

2. Portuguese are Spoken in More Countries than You Think-Portuguese Language Origins

The era of discovery brought Portuguese to many nations on the African Continent.  Portuguese is the official language to many African African countries like Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cabo Verde, São Tomé e Principe, Equatorial Guinea,

Many countries in Asia have historical ties with Portugal. In countries like China, Macau, Goa, Sri Lanka, Indonesia,  India, and Malaysia, many people speak Portuguese. Portuguese also influenced many nations in the Americas like  Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay,  and Venezuela.

3. Not Many People Study Portuguese

Despite being one of the most widely spoken languages globally, Portuguese is not popular with students. It is unfortunate because Portuguese can enhance your experience when traveling abroad. Brazilians love it when you speak their language. They will try to talk to you in Portuguese and help you with pronunciation.

4. At Many Popular Tourist Destinations, People Speak Portuguese-Portuguese Language Origins .

Do you plan a vacation on the beautiful beaches of Brazil or want to explore their enchanting rainforest?  Speaking Portuguese can help as not many Brazilians speak English. Portugal is an affordable and scenic European travel destination.

If you prefer Asia, you will find that your hosts may be Portuguese-speaking people in India, Malaysia, or Indonesia. Mozambique in Africa, another  Portuguese-speaking nation, has the most beautiful beaches and are very popular for their prawns. Overall, it helps to have another travel language other than English.

5. Portuguese is still a developing language

Up to 2009, the Portuguese alphabet consisted of only 23 letters. Over the years, the Portuguese language had assimilated many English words, especially from science and technology. Since 1990 there has been a call to reform the Portuguese language. The reformation was complete in 2009.

As of 2009, the Portuguese alphabet now consists of 26 words. The Portuguese added the letters K, Y, and W to conform all the Portuguese to a more conformed language.

6. The addition of three new letters to its alphabet in 2009-Portuguese Language Origins

Prior to 2009, the letters k, y, and w was non-existent in Portuguese writing. The incorporation of the three letters took place in January 2009. The recent assimilation of English loanwords caused the incorporation of the letters.There are now 26 letters in the Portuguese alphabet, the same as in the American alphabet. The letters K, W, and Y, were part of the language, but after the last reform in 2009, they are part and parcel of the alphabet.

In the beginning, it caused a lot of confusion, but the Portuguese-speaking countries are now in sync with each other. The Portuguese use the added letters in measurements, such as km for quilômetro (kilometer, W for watt (electricity measurement, and names like Yara, Kita, Wailliam.

7.   Verb Tenses can have Six Different Endings.

Conjunctions in Portuguese seem to be limitless. Verbs in the Portuguese language exhibit a high degree of accentuation. Verbs in Portuguese can have many forms, up to fifty, different moods, and up to six different tenses.

Portuguese verb conjunctions relate to number and person, forming six different outcomes. The personal infinitive and non- infinitive forms (without a tense) as well as future subjunctive, indicating the number of persons, are peculiar to the Portuguese language.

There are no regional dialects of Portuguese in Brazil. It makes communication easy when you are new to the language and travel in Brazil. If you already know Spanish, it will be easy to learn Portuguese. Both languages come from the same region and have Latin as the root of their language.

8. They speak Portuguese at Many Popular Tourist Destinations-Portuguese Language Origins

Should you plan a vacation on the beautiful beaches of Brazil or explore their enchanting rainforest speaking Portuguese will assist you.  Speaking Portuguese can help as not many Brazilians speak English. Portugal is a beautiful country and an affordable European travel destination.

If you prefer Asia, you may find Portuguese-speaking people in India as your host or Malaysia or Indonesia. Mozambique in Africa has the most beautiful beaches and are very popular for their Prawns. Overall, it helps to have another travel language other than English.

9. Next to English, Portuguese is the Fastest Growing Language in the World

Because of the growth and success of Brazil, Portuguese is becoming a widely spoken language in South America. More neighboring South American countries are teaching Portuguese. Portuguese is an official language used by the EU and other organizations like Mercosul.

In Asian countries like Macau and China, Portuguese is becoming more popular. It is the result of the Asian countries, wealth in diplomatic and economic ties with Portuguese and Lusophone-speaking countries. There has even been an increase in Portuguese residents in East Timor.

Although the language is native to Portugal and nine other countries, Portuguese achieved a 297% growth rate over the last hundred years. The growth trend is most noticeable in Sub-Saharan Africa. If this trend continues, Portuguese will be the most used language in the region.

10. Portuguese and Galician Understand Each Other-Portuguese Language Origins

3- million people in the northeast of Spain speak Galician, a language similar to Portuguese. These languages have the same history until the 16th century. That is why Galician and Portuguese people can understand each other even today without effort.

You can almost read Galician text as Portuguese with a few strange words. The two languages have a few syntactical differences. Pronunciation differences that influence spelling are where most of the differences occur like, “junta” versus “xunta”.  In the Northwestern part of Portugal, the pronunciations are more similar to Galician.

 11. Portuguese have Arabic Influences

Arabic was the official language of administration when the Moors conquered  Portugal in the 13th century. The Moor’s knowledge, customs, and techniques, introduced to the Portuguese during this time, caused them to adapt their language. Portuguese use many Arabic words like almofada (cushion), garrafa (bottle), and azeitona (olive)today.

12. Brazilian Portuguese is Different-Portuguese Language Origins

Although Brazilians speak Portuguese, they are a sovereign nation that got their independence from the Portuguese in 1822. Since then, the language of the Brazilians has evolved separately from Portugal over the two decades of independents. Four areas where this is most evident is the following:

 Pronunciation – consonants and some vowels are pronounced differently by the two countries. Words ending with S are pronounced as SS by Brazilians as opposed to SH by Portugal.

Accent: – Portuguese spoken by the Brazilians are phonetically more pleasing, while the Portuguese sounds are more garbled. The Brazilian accent has a strong intonation, making it easier to understand and learn the language.

Grammar and spelling: – Brazilians spell many words different than Portugal, for example, the word eceção (reception) in Portugal and recepção (reception) in Brazilian. The Brazilians changed the spelling by adding an audible p. The Brazilians creatively change nouns into verbs, such as the phrase- darosparabéns( to congratulate) they condense into a verb parabenizar.

Formal and informal speech: – Brazilians are less formal in their speech than Portugal. The European Portuguese views você (you) as crude. They remove the second-person pronoun in informal settings contrary to the way Brazilians use it.

13. Portugal is Home to Only 5%of The Worlds’ Portuguese Speaking People -Portuguese Language Origins

Of the 200 million Portuguese-speaking people, only one out of twenty-five are in Portugal.  It means that only approximately 10 million Portuguese-speaking Lusophones live in  Portugal. The majority of Portuguese-speaking people live in Brazilia and the Sub-Saharan countries of Mozambique and Angola.

The population in these Lusophone countries is growing at a tremendous rate. These countries are overtaking Portugal in the number of people that use the Portugal language. Linguists believe this may cause a further reformation of the Portuguese language.

14. The Longest Word in Portuguese Has 29 Letters

Brazil founded an interactive language museum in 2006. A fire nearly destroyed the museum in 2015 but was restored in 2020. Having a language with a rich history, it is not surprising that we find words with twenty-nine letters.

The longest word in English antidisestablishmentarianism has 28 letters, while anticonstitucionalíssimamente (meaning, in a very unconstitutional way), has twenty-nine letters. It is the longest word that is not technical in the Portuguese language.

15. Most Literate Portuguese Speakers Were Also Literate in Latin in the Middle Ages-Portuguese Language Origins

Portuguese has its origins from Galician and from Roman merchants and Soldiers that spoke Latin.  They adopted Latin words with ease into their speech and writings. Miguel de Cervantes. the Spanish author, called Portuguese a gracious and sweet language.

OlavoBilac, the Brazilian poet, described it as naive and beautiful, like the last flower of Latium. Portuguese is referred to as the language of Camões, referring to Luís Vas de Camões, the great literary figure of the Portuguese.

16.“To be” Has Two Verb Meanings in  Portuguese

The verb “to be” is universal in the English language, opposed to Portuguese with two verbs for “to be,” such as ser and estar. Ser refers to unchanging or permanent examples, and estar indicates temporary situations like mood or weather.

Interestingly, marriage is considered permanent and unchanging by the use of ser casado and not estarcasado.

17.  Some Japanese Words Come from Portugal-Portuguese Language Origins

In the 16th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan. Portugal and japan established trade agreements.  Missionaries and merchants brought new words and products to the region. It influenced the language and culture is the Japanese.  The Portuguese traders were called nanban (Southern barbarian) by the Japanese.

Loan words from Portuguese are common in Japanese. Good examples are words, such as pan (bread), Sabato(Saturday), tempura(Japanese fish dish). Another interesting fact, The Portuguese introduced the Japanese to European cooking oil. The merchants brought Gold, Silver, tin, cotton textiles, and wool to Japan.

18.It Took 1500 Years to Become an Official Language

Round 200BC Latin made its way to the Iberian Peninsula, which is modern-day Portugal and Spain.  Latin, the language of Roman Soldiers, and merchants were the first influence on the Portuguese language that was Galician.

The Germanic people invaded Portugal in 711BC to further influence the Portuguese language. An Islamic Moorish invasion followed that caused many Arabic loan words to become part of the Portuguese lexicon.  In  1290 BC,  Portuguese was officially declared the Language of Portugal by King Denis.   Although Portuguese was now an official language, it still kept lending words from languages like Greek and Latin.

19. Famous People that Speak Portuguese-Portuguese Language Origins

Portugal revere the explorers of the Explorers 15th and 16th Centuries far more for their achievements than footballers. The exploration age is known as the golden age of Portugal. The Portuguese still commemorate these heroes through fado songs, monuments, and flags.

These explorers were the people that spread Portuguese to other continents. The most renowned of them are:

Henry the Navigator – Henry, the 3rd son of King John Ι, born in 1394, became a central figure in the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. He took expeditions and colonized the island of Madeira, the Azores, the  Cape Verde Islands, and the West African coast. He also established a school for map makers and navigators.

Vasco da Gama – Born in Sines in 1460, was the first explorer to sail to India around the coast of Africa. He was the first European to visit Kenya and Mombasa. It was the beginning of the trade route between Europe and India.

Ferdinand Magellan

Born into a noble family in Northern Portugal around 1480, Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan) is famous for organizing a Spanish expedition to the East Indies that resulted in the first circumnavigation of the earth.

The route went down the coast of Africa, extended to South America. It continued past Patagonia, through Asia, past the tip of Africa, and back to Europe. Magellan died on the route after a fallout with chieftains in the Philippines, but several boats returned to Europe the following year.

Portuguese is the 7th top language spoken today, it should not surprise you that some of the most famous people speak Portuguese. Portuguese are even the native tongue to some of these celebrates. Other celebrities needed to learn the skill for professional purposes or out of curiosity.

Here are some famous names that speak Portuguese fluently:

Shakira – This famous singer learned to speak Portuguese because of the work she did in the country.

Annabelle Wallis – The actress being famous for her role in the movies Annabel 2 and TheTudors lived in Portugal as a child and learned the language from an early age.

J.K. Rowling – The writer of the Harry Potter books married Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes and lived in Portugal from 1991 to 1993. She speaks Portuguese very confidently and replies in Portuguese to her Portuguese fans.

Candice Swanepoel: – It is a good idea to learn their language, when you date a foreigner, or if you consider marrying one. It is what Candice did she learned to speak Portuguese to her Brazilian boyfriend.

20. Portuguese is Crucial in Business

With Brazilian and other South American countries rapidly growing economically, it is crucial to speak Portuguese.  The Portuguese language has economic influence that is far-reaching outside the borders of the Iberian peninsula. The language is driving incredible economic transformation through Africa and Latin America. Asia is also feeling this transformation driven by Portuguese-speaking countries such a Brazilia.

Brazil is the largest  Portuguese speaking country in the world and is also the 8th largest economy. It has a history of economic growth, an enormous amount of natural resources. Brazil has an economy of 200 million people.  It is a challenge to overstate the role of the Portuguese language in today’s world.

Related Questions-Portuguese Language Origins

How useful is Portuguese?

 After English, Portuguese is the most active growing language across the globe. It has the highest growth potential in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. It is also driving economic growth across the Latin American continent. Linguists estimate that Portuguese-speaking African Countries will have 83 million people speaking the language.

 Will Portuguese become obsolete like Latin?

Portuguese is a language that is growing daily, so is the population using this language. Portuguese went through a reformation in 2009 to get the different countries using the Portuguese on the same page. It also extended its alphabet with three letters to accommodate more modern words. As long as a language grows and evolve, it will not become extinct.

Is Portuguese an important international language?

 Portuguese is an important language in the economic sphere, it also plays a significant role in the sphere of diplomacy. Some of the most important international organizations use Portuguese as their official or working language. Some of these organizations are:

  •    African Union
  • The Community of Portuguese Language Countries
  • The European Union
  • Mercosul

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