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From Galician Portuguese to Brazilian Portuguese

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Portuguese > Portuguese Language History: From Galician to Brazilian Portuguese

Every living language or “lingua” has its stories, idiomatic expressions, and memories to hold on to.

Few people are aware of the extent of Portuguese history and culture, all the way from its detachment from Latin, to its first appearance in writing, to its modernized use in former Portuguese colonies, such as Brazil and Angola.

Apart from the wide variety of accents and richness of its vocabulary – perceived by historians as a popularization of the Latin language – the Portuguese language carries centuries of colonial history, naval conquests, and explorers who are at the height of the best known one of all, Christopher Columbus.

It has the same alphabet as Spanish and this makes it a rather simple language to master in order to get by in everyday life. This will make the fans of Paulo Coelho happy.

“My homeland is the Portuguese language,” said a colleague of Coelho, Fernando Pessoa.

For those of you who have decided to deepen your Brazilian Portuguese by taking a tutoring class, let’s discover together how this foreign language, often considered as obsolete or scarce, can still be spoken on 5 continents and taught in language schools all over the world.

Why you should learn Portuguese is an important question, and the diversity of the answer will surprise you more than you probably think.

What is the History of the Portuguese Language?

difference-linguist What is the difference between Galician-Portuguese, the dead Romance language and the Gallego-Portuguese?

According to the legend, a popularization of Latin was the origin of the Portuguese language…You may read this and think that Portuguese is latin slang…

Stop a moment and let me explain..!

According to linguists, the Portuguese language has phonetic, morphological, lexical, and syntactic terms that correspond to a more popular evolution of Latin…

Common under the Roman colonists in the third century BC, Latin then mixed its pronunciation, its grammar and its conjugation with other languages ​​and dialects throughout the ages.

It was not until the fifth century, after the fall of the Roman Empire and its linguistic influence, that Galáco-Portuguese developed – a dialect borrowing the Latin structure in its use of adverbs, adjectives, and personal pronouns.

Rapidly differentiating itself from other languages that came after the Roman Empire, Portuguese-Galáco knew its apogee in the XIII century, when it became the prestigious language of medieval European lyricism.

It was pronounced the official language of the Kingdom of Portugal by King Denis I in 1290. The language was imposed on all inhabitants of Portugal by its extremely rich literature and presence in manuscripts.

However, as the People’s Republic of China did much later with Mandarin, Portugal rose to modernity in 1536, during the Renaissance, with the establishment of grammatical conventions which were orchestrated by writers and historians Fernão de Oliveira and João de Barros, who reformed the language.

Portugal’s living language had a boom worldwide – especially in African countries – in the 16th century. Indeed, it was during the time of the great discoveries outside of Portugal that the Portuguese seafaring people led by Vasco de Gama, among others, spread Portuguese beyond its borders with their ambition to conquer.

Finally, in recent years, in 1990, Portugal ratified the Spelling Agreement of the Portuguese Language in order to encourage its former colonies to follow one and only one spelling. The nations targeted were:

  • Angola,
  • Brasil,
  • Cape Verde,
  • Guinea Bissau,
  • Mozambique
  • And Sao Tome and Principe

The widespread use of the language means that speaking Portuguese opens professional doors to people familiar with this tongue.

Who Are the Ambassadors of the Portuguese Language?

accent-diff Portuguese is spoken in several countries around the world. Sometimes the differences in the accents are major.

Often known as a migrant people, Portuguese politicians, athletes, musicians, and actors live all over the world.

They are often the ones who, like some celebrities who have the power to make you want to learn English, learn German, learn Russian, or learn Spanish, have managed to entice people to learn the Portuguese language.

The Portuguese Language in “Celebrity” Terms

Here is a list put forward by Wikipedia when it comes to the Portuguese-Americans who you may or may not know:

Art and architecture

  • William Pereira (1909–1985), Architect, Cape Canaveral, CBS Television City & Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
  • João de Brito (1958), painter, sculptor, artist.
  • Mel Ramos (born July 24, 1935) is a U.S. figurative painter, whose work incorporates elements of realist and abstract art.
  • Nathan Oliveira (December 19, 1928 – November 13, 2010) was an American painter, printmaker, and sculptor, born in Oakland, California to Portuguese parents.


  • Buddy DeSylva (1895–1950), American songwriter, movie producer & co-founder of Capitol Records.
  • Teresa Heinz Kerry (1938– ), philanthropist, heiress of H.J. Heinz Company, widow of Henry John Heinz III, and wife of John Kerry. (Mozambican-born Portuguese)
  • Izzy Gomez was a Portuguese immigrant, chef and restaurateur in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, California, USA. In 1943, he was recognized by LIFE Magazine as one of San Francisco’s most colorful characters.


  • Emeril Lagasse is a Portuguese-American celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author.
  • George Mendes is the Portuguese-American executive chef of Aldea, a Michelin starred restaurant in New York City.
  • David Leite is the Portuguese-American publisher of the two-time James Beard Award-winning website Leite’s Culinaria. He has written for The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Bon Appétit, Saveur, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Food Arts, Men’s Health, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Chicaco Sun Times, The Washington Post, and other publications in the United States and abroad.

Can you think of more? Chances are there are many, many more!

Portuguese Literature

Excluding show business, it is in literature that we find authors who have made Portuguese a world-renowned language.

We will first turn to Camões, who found his place in the history of world literature thanks to Lusiades his “masterpiece,” which some place at the level of Dante, Shakespeare, Molière, or even Goethe. He is still considered today the greatest of Portugal’s poets, and most of the Portuguese academics worship him.

We could not mention Portugal and its Pastoral and Romancero novels, without mentioning José Sousa Saramago, renowned Portuguese writer and journalist. He was the only Portuguese to ever be given the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is taught in all national schools in Portugal, as you can well imagine.

Portuguese Singers

For those of you who do not read books, you may know Ms. Cesaria Evora. Originally from Cape Verde, she gave the Portuguese language melodies that will never be forgotten, such as Sodade.

Portuguese Athletes

You may remember these famous “R” athletes: Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo…

Teaching the Portuguese Language and the Portuguese Culture

colonial-power In 1914, Portugal was the 4th largest colonial power in the world.

Learning Portuguese at school, in a language school, or via private lessons is in part thanks to the national explorers of the 15th century.

There are numerous reasons to learn Portuguese, and if you choose to do so, you will learn about all these exciting historical figures.

In addition, taking Portuguese lessons will improve the way that you express yourself – whether via free Internet lessons or paying evening classes – and give you an opportunity to revisit the famous Tordesillas Treaty, signed in 1494, which was to to divide the “New World” between Spain and Portugal.

“Never was the world as big as after Magellan’s journey,” said historian Pierre Chaunu.

After the treaty, Magellan undertook to go to the Molucca Islands (Spice Islands), a project that guided him – although it was not his initial project – to embark his fleet on a legendary world tour. Christopher Columbus, who had already died more than a quarter of a century before, watched from the sky, envious of his travels.

Learning a new language is fun but hard. You may want to take a page out of these TED Translators’ books:

  1. Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. To Spanish translator Sebastián Betti, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, he thinks of fun things that he wanted to do anyway, and makes them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of our translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. So the next time you need a vegan carrot cake recipe, find one in the language you’re trying to learn.
  2. Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign penpals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.
  3. Do not worry about making mistakes. One of the most common barriers to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes. But native speakers are like doting parents: any attempt from you to communicate in their language is objective proof that you are a gifted genius. They’ll appreciate your effort and even help you. Nervous about holding a conversation with a peer? Try testing your language skills with someone a little younger. “I was stoked when I was chatting with an Italian toddler and realized we had the same level of Italian,” recalls German translator Judith Matz. And be patient. The more you speak, the closer you’ll get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.” And to talking to people your own age.

Learning Portuguese and Its Music

novel-theater Many Portuguese writers have contributed to culturally enriching the Castilian theater and novel.

The Portuguese language has long given birth to amazing songwriters and musicians.

In fact, music has always been an integral part of the Portuguese culture. Dancers, musicians, and informed listeners, illustrate the aesthetic virtues of the Magellanic language without using a dictionary.

But even outside of Portugal, learning Portuguese to travel is a brilliant idea. Brazil, Angola, and Cape Verde also have a great love for music, as you will see with the fado bossa nova or the Cape Verdean morna, which have blown many people away.

So, just like when you took your first steps in Spanish and immersed yourself in Ricky Martin (do not pretend you did not visit that musical universe…), you may want to learn the Portuguese language via the country’s artists.

First, head to Cape Verde and indulge in the melancholic lyrics of Cesária Évora, which can accompany souls in search of purity and transport them as they discover new vocabulary words.

Then why not travel to South America, Brazil, by listening to the playful sounds of Seu Jorge or Jorge Ben Jor which, for those of you who love football, may have already heard the hits (Ohhhhh Mas, What Nada …!)

Finally, for those of you looking to delve into the traditional Portuguese music, you will have to turn to Fado: a Portuguese soul singing, which dates back to the nineteenth century. Fado has been sung by artists like Amália Rodrigues, Mariza, Dulce Pontes, Ana Moura, and Carlos do Carmo.

All in all, enough artists to brighten up any playlist…

Also discover why you have to learn Portuguese to travel…


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