What language do they speak in Brazil?

by William Reid

Brazil is the biggest country in South America and one of the biggest countries in the world. What many people do not seem to know about the Amazonian country is the fact that its people speak many languages. While most countries in South America speak Spanish as their official language, Brazil has Portuguese as its official language. While Portuguese is spoken widely in the country, it is common to hear other languages like Vlax Romani, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese. Additionally, 274 local languages belong to more than 305 ethnicities in the country.

languages of the Brazil

Brazil is counted in the world as being one of the places with the most biodiverse environment. The country also has a great amount of linguistic and cultural diversity. The country has a linguistic richness that is as good as its biological riches that are mostly hidden in its remote areas. For instance, Sao Paulo, which is the city in the world with the biggest speakers of Portuguese also has a large collection of Jewish, Italian, Arab, and Chinese communities.

Portuguese and Brazil

Brazilians first started speaking Portuguese in 1500 when Pedro Alvares Cabral, the navigator from Portugal got to Brazil. When he first arrived, Cabral met between 6 and 10 million Amerindians in Brazil. At that time, these people were speaking about 1300 different languages. In the country now, only about 170,000 people speak 181 different languages.

The Portuguese spoken in Brazil is different from that spoken in Portugal due to Amerindian and African influences. In Brazil, more than 205 million people speak Portuguese compared with just 10 million people who speak the language in faraway Portugal. Ever since Portuguese colonizers took the language to the South American country, it has morphed significantly into an “Americanized” form of Portuguese.

In Brazil, some indigenous people are few. It is known that 17.5 of these local Brazilians are non-speakers of Portuguese. But, Portuguese is still the official language of the country. Government communications, public education, and media are all conducted in Portuguese. Also, due to the influence of the mass media, Portuguese as a language has continued to spread out into the remotest villages in the country and obliterates any remaining indigenous languages in the process. This has made Portuguese, the language with the most speakers in the country.

Are there Spanish speakers in Brazil?

Surprisingly, while Brazil is surrounded by countries where English is spoken officially, there are only just half a million Spanish speakers in the country. In the 18th century during the intense immigration wave, a lot of Spanish immigrants had come from Galicia. Galicia is an autonomous community in Spain that spoke a Spanish variant that sounds more like Portuguese. Therefore, when they got to Brazil, they were all absorbed by the dominant Portuguese speaking community.

However, due to the economic and strategic importance of Spain to Brazil, the country is quickly adopting the language as its second or third formal means of communication. Furthermore, in many parts of the Brazilian borders with countries that speak Spanish, there is a pidgin language that is spoken. It is known as Portunhol or Portunol.

Foreign languages are spoken in Brazil

While 99% of Brazilians speak Portuguese, there are still other foreign languages that are spoken in the country. The immigrant languages that are currently spoken in Brazil include Catalan, Vlax Romani, Turoyo, Korean, Japanese, North Levantine variant of Arabic, Dutch, as well as other popular European such as Ukrainian, Polish, Italian, and German.

Of all the foreign languages spoken in Brazil, Italian and German have the most speakers. They even have their unique dialects called Brazilian Talian or Venetian (for Italians) with 1 million speakers or Brazilian German (for Germans) with 3 million speakers.

Also, there are a sizeable amount of people in Brazil that speak Japanese in Sao Paulo. There are also a large amount of Chinese and Korean speakers who can be found in Amazonas, Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana.

The indigenous languages are spoken in Brazil

There are still speakers of indigenous languages in Brazil. In 2010, it was discovered that there are 305 local ethnicities and 274 local languages. These local people can be found deep in the swampy trenches of Brazil in prisons, slums, goldmines, quilombola communities, and indigenous reserves. There are also reports of 536,000 people in Brazil that identify as indigenous people. Also, there are reportedly about 67 tribes that have not been contacted by outsiders.

The biggest indigenous languages spoken in Brazil are the Macro-Je and Tupi. Also, there is a collection of Amerindian languages that are spoken in the country. These languages are Nadeb, Nheengatu, Caraja, Tupiniquim, Tucano, Buroro, Carib, Canela, Arara, Kaingang, Terena, Piraha, Apalai, and Guarani. Nheengatu is among the Amerindian languages with the most speakers. Concentrated within the region of Rio Negro, it has almost 19,000 indigenous speakers. Other indigenous languages are Tikuna (35,000 speakers), Guarani Kaiowa (26,500 speakers), Kaingang (22,000 speakers), Xavante (13,300 speakers), and Yanomami (12,700 speakers). It is known that many Brazilian Indigenous are dying out and by 2030, about 30% of the indigenous languages spoken in the country will no longer exist.

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