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Portuguese is a Romance language, of the Indo-European family. It originated in what is today Galicia (in Spain) and northern Portugal. It is the official language of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Prííncipe, and co-official with Chinese in the Chinese S.A.R. of Macau and Tetum in East Timor.
Portuguese is ranked sixth among the world's languages in number of native speakers (over 200 million), and first in South America (186 million, over 51% of the population). It is also a major lingua franca in Africa. It spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th century as Portugal set up a vast colonial and commercial empire (1415–1999), spanning from Brazil in the Americas to Macau in China. In that colonial period, many Portuguese creoles appeared around the world, especially in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Portuguese is often nicknamed The language of Camões, after the author of the Portuguese national epic The Lusiads; The last flower of Latium (Olavo Bilac); and The sweet language by Cervantes.
DialectsPortuguese is a pluricentric language. It has two main groups of dialects, those of Brazil and those of the Old World. For historical reasons, the dialects of Africa and Asia are generally closer to those of Portugal than the Brazilian dialects, although in some aspects of their phonology, especially the pronunciation of unstressed vowels, they resemble Brazilian Portuguese more than European Portuguese. They have not been studied as exhaustively as European and Brazilian Portuguese. In various parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas, Portuguese creoles are spoken, but they are independent languages which should not be confused with Portuguese itself.
Within the two major varieties of Portuguese, most differences between dialects concern pronunciation and vocabulary. Below are some examples:
words for bus
Classification and related languagesPortuguese belongs to the West Iberian branch of the Romance languages, and it has special ties with the following members of this group, for various reasons:
Derived languagesBeginning in the 16th century, the extensive contacts between Portuguese travelers and settlers, African slaves, and local populations led to the appearance of many pidgins with varying amounts of Portuguese influence. As these pidgins became the mother tongue of succeeding generations, they evolved into fully fledged creole languages, which remained in use in many parts of Asia and Africa until the 18th century.
Some Portuguese-based or Portuguese-influenced creoles are still spoken today, by over 3 million people worldwide, especially people of partial Portuguese ancestry.