The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, which belongs to the Indo-European language family and is classified under the Ibero-Romance and Galicia-Portuguese subgroups. Because Portuguese is the official language, it is used by governments, businesses, schools, and the media. It uses the same alphabet as the English language (Latin) with the addition of accent marks over some letters in certain words. Several Brazilian states recognize other official languages in addition to Portuguese. These states include: Rio Grande do Sul (Talian and Riograndenser Hunsrückisch German), Santa Catarina (Talian), and Espirito Santo (German and East Pomeranian).

Estimates indicate that at least 99% of the population of Brazil speaks Portuguese as either a native or second language. Although this country is also home to a number of Indigenous languages, researchers indicate that only around 40,000 individuals (or .2% of the population) are able to speak these Indigenous languages. Additionally, only around 1.9% of the population speaks German. As such, Portuguese serves as an important national unity factor for Brazilian residents.

The Portuguese spoken in Brazil is similar to, but not the same, as the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. It has been influenced over the centuries by local, Amerindian languages. Brazilian Portuguese speakers use a number of phrases that are unique to Brazil. For example, “fala serio” literally translates to “speak seriously”, but actually means: “you’re kidding”. After hearing “thank you” (obrigado in Portuguese), a Brazilian may respond with “imagina!” Literally, “imagina” means “imagine”, but it can be taken as “it’s no problem” in Brazil.

The minority languages of Brazil are made up of immigrant and indigenous languages. The most common immigrant languages include those from Asia and Europe. Some Asian languages spoken in Brazil are: Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Macanese (a Chinese-Portuguese creole language). European languages spoken in Brazil include: German, Italian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Polish, and Pomeranian. Most of the Indigenous languages of Brazil are concentrated in the northern regions of the country. The most widely spoken of these (with more than 10,000 speakers) include: Kaingang, Ticuna, Kaiwa Guarani, and Macushi.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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