Brazilian Portuguese. It’s my next thing. Been thinking about it for a while, but haven’t made a start. At this moment in time, I know ziltch Portuguese. I watched a couple of podcasts and attempted to parrot a few words. I totally crippled them in the process. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my research. I know I that I want to learn is Brazilian Portuguese, rather than Portuguese from Portugal. Initially, I was quite torn over this. After all, Portugal is so close, only a few miles (OK, 300 miles) down the river. The Tagus, which flows through Toledo, spills into the sea at Lisbon. It would be fairly easy for me to spend part of my time in Lisbon, and part in Toledo.
Brazilian and European Portuguese, despite being technically the same language, have diverged significantly since the Portuguese first arrived in South America in 1500 carving out the colony, and the two ‘dialects’ are no longer mutually intelligible. Although, according to what I’ve read, the Portuguese can understand the Brazilians, but not vice versa. I look forward to finding out more about the specific differences in due course.
Why Brazilian Portuguese?
First, there are the simple metrics: Brazil has a population of 194 million, while Portugal’s amounts to just over 10 million. I’m not all that interested in acquiring a ’boutique language’ understood by only a handful of bods, unless I happen to be living in a place where a minority language is spoken. Second, Brazil is a fast-growing economy, and of great interest to me from a work perspective. I frequently write about emerging economies, and being able to access relevant material in the original language and having a basic understanding of local culture affords me a distinct professional advantage.
Another, and not unimportant reason is that my friend Sofia also needs Brazilian Portuguese for her work, and it would be nice for us to be doing this together. She has a tourism company here in Toledo, and she expects that over the next two decades, a significant proportion of her business is going to come from Brazil.
Our plan is to start learning the basics here in Spain, and then go off to Brazil in November for three or four months to do an intensive language course. Well, maybe not that intensive… we’ll be in a town with a lovely beach, called Salvador, which Sofia has been to before 😉
Part of me is apprehensive about starting to learn another language so soon, when I’m only just getting to grips with Spanish. I feel like I’m already not spending enough time on that. Then there’s the fact that Portuguese and Spanish are very closely related. On the one hand, this is good; it means that I’ve already got a massive passive vocabulary, but on the other hand, it’s tricky, because it’s likely to cause me a lot of confusion at this stage.
Ideally, I would have liked to have waited for another year or two, until I’d gained a much more solid grasp of Spanish, before embarking on my next linguistic adventure. I’ve written once about the fact that quality is far more important to me than quantity when it comes to acquiring foreign languages. But, seeing as a delectable opportunity to abscond to Brazil with a good friend is presenting itself, I really don’t want to pass it up, just because the timing isn’t absolutely perfect.
Things are moving fast!
Since I wrote the above two days ago, things have been slotting into place rather rapidly. Yesterday, I called a language school I found which is offering Brazilian Portuguese (there isn’t exactly an abundance of those in a small town like Toledo!). It so happened that they had a couple of people on a waiting list, and with me and Sofia on board, they are willing to kick off a beginners’ class. A small class like that would suit me perfectly. We’re starting either this coming Monday or Tuesday, they haven’t confirmed the day yet. Well, now that it’s happening, I’m starting to feel rather excited…!