Juan   Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 11:46 GMT
<<These types of differences occur in other languages too.>>

Not in Spanish.

<<Take Portuguese, for example.>>

I my opinion the language spoken in Brazil has strayed so much from the one in Portugal that it should be rightfully considered a separate language. Some Brazilians have commented on how they find it easier to understand Spanish speakers than European Portuguese speakers.
Juan   Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 11:48 GMT
Spanish orthography that is
Juan   Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 12:21 GMT
mjd   Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 17:34 GMT

The difficulty Brazilians have in understanding speakers from Portugal has to do with accent, not language.

"I my opinion the language spoken in Brazil has strayed so much from the one in Portugal that it should be rightfully considered a separate language."

I've read those articles too and it's a rather ridiculous claim. There is no way to deny that the language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese.
Juan   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:07 GMT
<<The difficulty Brazilians have in understanding speakers from Portugal has to do with accent, not language.>>

"There are differences in vocabulary too: parasol (Brazil), chapéu de sol (Portugal); arrecadar (Brazil), angariar (Portugal)—to raise (money). There are also problems with words that are spelt and pronounced in the same way with totally different meaning, like terno (Brazilian) and fato (Portuguese), a men's suit. The word fato in Brazilian is the new version of the word facto (fact). The Portuguese say viajar para o estrangeiro (to travel abroad) while we say viajar para o exterior. If you use the word exterior in that context in an exam, Portuguese teachers would consider it a mistake.

To make the confusion even worse you can find differences in masculine and feminine forms, such as: o caixa eletrônico in Brazil as opposed to a caixa eletrônica in Portugal (cash-point machines).

The list is huge and it keeps growing, making things even more confusing. During the whole length of the course I had the impression that I was dealing with a different Latin language. It was exhausting and the teacher had to work double. Hadn't he insisted that they are the same he would have had less trouble.""

Not according to this Brazilian.
mjd   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:11 GMT
I know. I've read the article, but I'd say he's in the minority. It's like saying that we in the U.S. speak "American" because we say "truck" instead of "lorry" etc.
Juan   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:16 GMT

"Brazilian and European Portuguese are very far apart—from spelling to the use of verb tenses and terminology. In many situations, the use of European Portuguese is unacceptable to Brazilians, and vice-versa. The choice of words can be completely different and sometimes "laughable." This is specially true when it comes to technical texts, where even the choices of "imported" words are different."
Juan   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:18 GMT
Ok, I don't speak/read Portugues so I'll take your word for it.
mjd   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:22 GMT
True, but it doesn't change the fact that Brazilians speak Portuguese. The vast vocabulary influenced by the language of the Tupi-Guarani "índios" and the African slaves, as well as always using the "próclise" in instances where people from Portugal would use the "énclise" are characteristics of Brazilian Portuguese. However, when Brazilian soap operas air in Portugal, there are no subtitles...why?...Because they're speaking Portuguese (thus the large amount of Brazilianisms that have crept up in Portugal).

It's a question of dialect.
mjd   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:27 GMT
"This is specially true when it comes to technical texts, where even the choices of "imported" words are different."

It's funny. In England they say "mobile phone." In the U.S. they say "cell phone." The transatlantic difference exists for Portugal and Brazil as well. In Portugal they say "telemóvel" whereas it seems in Brazil they say "telefone celular."
Juan   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 04:44 GMT
This is mildly related but is so true though :-)


A better explanation for why the Portuguese can understand the Spanish and not the contrary is the phonetic system of the languages. The existing phonetic differences between the two languages are very great, making the pronunciation the main difficulty on which a Spanish speaker stumbles when trying to understand or speak Portuguese well.

The vocalic wealth of continental Portuguese is much greater than that of Spanish. There are ten vowel phonemes and two semi-vowels, while in Spanish there are five. In addition there are oral and nasal diphthongs, 16 open and closed descending, and 9 ascending. One of the most characteristic traits of Portuguese is the great wealth of nasal vowels. In fact Portuguese is the Romance language that possesses the greatest number of these phonemes. Without going into technical linguistics, what this means is that there are many more sounds in continental Portuguese than in Spanish.

Vowel sounds in continental Portuguese are usually unstressed, and at the end of words often seem to disappear altogether. This makes comprehension difficult. A word like quente (caliente in Spanish) loses the final e. Porque becomes /pork/. These examples and many more which we obviously can not write here demonstrate why a Spanish speaker, unused to hearing Portuguese in his country, cannot make out the vowels necessary to form the meaning of a word, which written would be perfectly understood. The name of a city like Ermesinde—in Spanish /er/ /me/ /zin/ /de/ is pronounced /ermzind/, making comprehension almost impossible. The opposite—why the Portuguese can understand the Spanish—can be explained by the reduced vowel system of Spanish and the emphatic pronunciation of each phoneme. It can also be explained by more contact with the Spanish language in Portugal through films, television, tourists, and music—a lot of Spanish music is played on Portuguese radio stations but the opposite does not occur. In conclusion, when the Spanish do not understand the Portuguese it is not because they don’t want to but because they cannot.

And now we come back to the statement that the Spanish can usually understand the Brazilian speaker but not the Portuguese. The same holds true for the BRAZILIAN WHO HAS GREAT DIFFICULTY IN UNDERSTANDING CONTINENTAL PORTUGUESE AND OFTEN CAN UNDERSTAND SPOKEN SPANISH MORE EASILY. It is all a question of phonetics. Like Spanish Brazilian Portuguese emphasizes vowels, even exaggerates them, often changing /e/ to /I/. Inter-consonant vowels or final vowels are never suppressed. Thus comprehension is facilitated.
Juan   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 05:47 GMT

Hope I'm not being anatagonistic. I'm no expert in Portuguese but my inquisitive nature usually gets the better of me.

<<However, when Brazilian soap operas air in Portugal, there are no subtitles...why?...Because they're speaking Portuguese>>

Still, the opposite of that, Brazilians understanding Continental Portuguese, may not occur.


"In a situation in which no cultural input from Portugal enters Brazil there is almost a total ignorance about the mother nation. Portuguese singers have never even tried to penetrate the Brazilian market. Recently a Portuguese rock group performed live at a rock concert in Rio. The Portuguese television reporter interviewed several young people and asked them what they thought about the music. The first comment was that it sounded ok but THEY COULDN'T UNDERSTAND A WORD.

Portuguese television and films have likewise never been shown in Brazil, outside a few art cinemas in Rio or São Paulo. A recent package of Portuguese films was sent to be shown during the celebrations commemorating the discovery of Brazil. It was decided that the films could ONLY BE SHOWN IN SUBTITLES.

The EP variety of the language is almost never heard in Brazil, especially in the interior. A student of mine, when visiting a small town in Brazil, was asked if she was speaking Italian. Brazilian women who went to a women’s congress in Moscow in the early sixties, before the revolution of 1964, said that when the delegates words were being translated into EP on their headphones, THEY HAD TO SWITCH TO A SPANISH TRANSLATION TO UNDERSTAND. Surely the same would not happen with Spanish from Spain and Mexican Spanish <<Correct. I listen to news from Spain and Chile on occasions with no problems what-so-ever>>, or even with American and British English<<Also correct>>—although dialects like Geordie or Scouse can be unintelligible for Americans. But they are dialects; here we are talking about standard varieties."

Where's Sagason when you need him?
mjd   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 06:13 GMT
This is about accent, not language. Most of the Brazilians I know don't understand Spanish all that well. Portuguese tend to cut the endings off of words and the "s" is often hissed (like the English "sh"...although this occurs in the accent of Rio de Janeiro too because of the presence of the Portuguese royal family). For example, in Portugal the word "vista" would be pronounced "veeshta."

I'm not denying that Brazilians sometimes have trouble understanding Portuguese as it is spoken by people from Portugal. However, this doesn't change the fact that the language of Brazil is Portuguese.

I'm sure there are some people in England who have such a strong accent that I might have trouble understanding them, but the fact remains that we are both native speakers of English.
Anna   Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 21:26 GMT
Now this is getting off topic, eh?
Paul   Thursday, March 18, 2004, 02:06 GMT
To get back to the original topic. While it is funny, that in England they say "mobile phone." and in the U.S. they say "cell phone."
It is down right confusing when either party refers to their phone, by calling it a mobil or a cell. These words have other common meanings.
When I hear the word mobile used as a Noun, I immediately think of an art object or sculpture, that can move around. Possible suspended from the ceiling.
I don't think phone.

As for the discussion on Portugese, I thank G-d that Cockney english never became popular, and English and British English are still mutually understandable.

Regards, Paul V.