”My homeland is my language”, this is one of the best well known sentences written by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. But we can add from it its different accents, expressions used in every corner of the Portuguese spoken world, as they offer a unique variety and richness, part of our identity. In Portugal the Lisbon accent is strange to the outsiders who listen to this language for the first time. ”It sounds like Russian”, say many. Is it so?
One of the most common questions among our guests, who do the walking tours in Lisbon with us, is about the Portuguese language. With attentive ears, having some background of similar languages such as Spanish or Italian, they try to grasp the sound. They feel that they are listening to something else. Maybe the most unbelievable question ever made to me was if Portuguese had some influence with Russian. Not at all! Nothing against the Russian language, but Portuguese has no link to it. But few minutes after I thought about that hypothesis. Why does it come up this question so many times? Of course there is no link because Portuguese belongs to the group of Latin languages. However this question, apparently silly, makes some sense because of one small detail: the sound. Yes, Portuguese spoken in Portugal sounds like similar to a Slavic language. We ”eat” the vowels and as a north-american once told me, some time ago, ”Portuguese sounds like mushmushmush”. The joke might be right if we compare to the Portuguese spoken in Brazil. It is musical and, as most of us recognize, it is Portuguese with sugar and, perhaps, because of that reason many prefer to learn it as a foreign language, because it is much easier to understand and pronounce. We Portuguese have a sweet tooth for vowels and so we are less understood, even by our Brazilian brothers.
But the world among the Portuguese language is vast. Portuguese is spoken by more that 244 million speakers, It is the sixth language most spoken in the world, the fifth more used in the internet and the third used in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. (source Publico) It is also the official language in eight countries: Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor. Now imagine this language spoken with several accents, rhythms and sounds depending on the country, the city and the region where you live. A musical richness inside the Portuguese language!
And just in case you would like to learn the basics as soon as you arrive in any of these countries it is always nice to say ”Olá!”, ”Obrigado” (Thank You in case you are a man), ”Obrigada” (Thank you in case you are a woman). Whatever accent you may use, you will always get a smile as an answer!
Are you in Lisbon or Coimbra and would like to listen to more stories related to Portuguese culture? Just book a tour with us and feel like a local! Take a look at our tours in Lisbon or Coimbra and join us to more discoveries!