Progressing in Portuguese

By Shailen Lakhani - Last update


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Next summer, football fever will once again spread wildly across continents as Brazil host the 2014 World Cup. The Irish team won’t be at it, but you can be sure that a decent contingent of Irish people will be.

It is a country that feels spectacularly alive – both in its cultural vibrancy and its biological variety (the Wildlife Conservation Society calls it ‘the most biologically rich country in the world’). Tourists to the country can expect more than an eye-opening experience; they are in for a sensory feast.

Yet there is a way of enhancing the adventure and better absorbing the experience – by making an effort to understand and speak a few words of Brazil’s official national language, Portuguese.

Some background

A Romance language, Portuguese as we know it did not become the official language of Portugal until some time in the thirteenth century. It’s spread from that time, however, was rapid as Portuguese explorers colonised far-flung regions across the globe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This included parts of Asia and Africa, along with Brazil. Portuguese remains the language of Angola, Mozambique, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau and East Timor, among others. Furthermore, UNESCO claims that the language is still among the fastest growing in the world (along with English and Spanish).

Why study Portuguese

Brazil was Portugal’s largest colony. It declared its independence in 1822, and though its economy today is not without its share of problems, it is not without huge potential either. It is the allure of trade prospects that have facilitated a growing in interest in learning Portuguese, and this interest is certain to grow as the country hosts not only next summer’s World Cup, but in 2016 will hold the biggest sporting event of them all, the Olympics.

Taking some of the language and its nuances on board now may well prove a prudent investment of time.


Shailen Lakhani

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