The Lord’s Prayer in Portuguese:
Pai nosso, que estais no céu
Santificado seja o Vosso nome,
Venha a nós o Vosso reino,
Seja feita a Vossa vontade,
Assim na terra como no céu.
O pão nosso de cada dia nos dai hoje.
Perdoai as nossas ofensas,
Assim como nós perdoamos a quem nos tem ofendido.
E não nos deixeis cair em tentação,
Mas livrai-nos do mal,
Portuguese (1290- ) is the main language of Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and some other bits of the old Portuguese empire. More people speak Portuguese than French, but not as many as speak Spanish. It is spoken by half of all Latin Americans and by more Africans than Europeans.
Portuguese is like Spanish, but it has sh and zh sounds, more z and oy sounds and, like French, is partly spoken through the nose. The spelling is also different. But if you know one, the other is easy to learn: many of the words are the same in both. Some people who speak Portuguese can understand spoken Spanish, but it does not work the other way round.
They both come from Latin. If history had been a bit different, they might have been one language.
Some see Galician of north-western Spain as a dialect of Portuguese. That is a matter of debate: while those in northern Portugal can understand it, those in the south have trouble.
What is certain is that they both came from the same language in the Middle Ages: Galician-Portuguese. It was the language of choice for poets in the 1200s and 1300s, even in the court of the Spanish king. But later Galicia fell under Spanish rule while Portugal had its own kings who made Portuguese a language of learning.
The main dialects of Portuguese are those of Portugal, Africa and Brazil. African and European Portuguese are closer to each other than either is to Brazilian Portuguese.
Africa: Portuguese has taken root in Angola. It is not merely the language of those at the top with good educations – like, say, English in Pakistan. It has become the native language of a third of Angolans and is understood by most of them. It has also taken root in Sao Tome and Principe. It is also widely understood in Mozambique, though less than one in ten speak it as a native language. Portuguese is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world.
Brazil: While the written language that everyone learns in school is close to that of Portugal, the Portuguese that you hear in the street is almost another language.
The Portuguese in Europe can understand spoken Brazilian Portuguese because they are used to hearing it in television shows and songs from Brazil. But some Brazilians have a hard time understanding Portuguese the way it is spoken in Europe.
Countries with a million or more Portuguese speakers:
1m: South Africa
Some would add the 4 million Galicians to this list.
– Abagond, 2007.