- Languages of Brazil
country = Brazil
official = Portuguese
indigenous = Apalaí, Arara, Bororo, Canela, Carajá, Caribe, Guarani, Kaingang, Nadëb,
Nheengatu, Terena, Tucano, Tupiniquim
Brazilian Sign Language
Portuguese keyboard layout
There are many languages of Brazil, including Portuguese, indigenous languages, and languages of more recent
European and Asian immigrants. Portuguese is the dominant language and the only official language.
Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, and is spoken by virtually all the population, being virtually the only language used in schools, newspapers, radio and TV, and used for all business and administrative purposes. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in
the Americas, giving it a national culture distinct from its Spanish-speaking neighbors.
However, many minority languages are spoken daily throughout the vast national territory of Brazil. Some of these are spoken by indigenous peoples. Others are spoken by immigrants and their descendants and at least one of the indigenous languages,
Nheengatubecame an official language alongside Portuguese in the municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/28/international/americas/28amazon.html?ex=1282881600&en=2dbb31357d010164&ei=5090 Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon ] "New York Times". Retrieved 2008-09-22] Brazilian Portuguesehas had its own development, influenced by the Amerindian and African languages. Due to this, the language is somewhat different from that spoken in Portugaland other Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly for phonological and orthographic differences, similar to the difference between American Englishand British English.
minority languages are spoken throughout Brazil. Half of these languages are spoken by indigenous peoples, mostly in Northern Brazil. The main indigenous languages are: Apalaí, Arara, Bororo, Canellla, Carajá, Caribe, Guarani (also in Paraguay), Kaingang, Nadëb, Nheengatu, Terena, Tucano, Tupiniquim, and many others. Though in the minority, cultural conflicts between the mainstream culture and these smaller groups cannot be dismissed as insignificant or unimportant because together the minority groups constitute a large percentage of the national population.
One of the two Brazilian "línguas gerais" (general languages),
Nheengatu, was until the late 1800s the common language used by a large number of indigenous, European, African, and African-descendant peoples throughout the coast of Brazil— it was spoken by the majority of the population in the land. It was proscribed by the Marquis of Pombalfor its association with the Jesuit missions. A recent resurgence in popularity of this language occurred, and it is now an official language in the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. Today, in the Amazon Basin, political campaigning is still printed in this Tupian language.
European languages of immigrants
Other languages such as German, Italian, Polish and Ukrainian are spoken in rural areas of Southern Brazil, by small communities of descendants of immigrants, who are for the most part bilingual. There are whole regions in southern Brazil where people speak both Portuguese and one or more of these languages. For example, it is reported that more than 90% of the residents of the small city of
Presidente Lucena, located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, speak Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, a Brazilian form of the Hunsrückisch dialect of German. [See [http://www.rotaromantica.com.br/cid_presidente_lucena01.htm this website] .]
Some immigrant communities in southern Brazil, chiefly the German and the Italian ones, have lasted long enough to develop distinctive dialects from their original European sources. For example,
Brazilian German, Riograndenser Hunsrückischor Hunsrückisch. In the Serra Gaúcharegion, we can find Italian dialectssuch as Talianor "italiano riograndense", based on the Venetian Language.
Other German dialects were transplanted to this part of Brazil. For example, the
Austrian dialect spoken in Dreizehnlindenor Treze Tíliasin the state of Santa Catarina; or the dialect of the Donauschwabenspoken in Entre Rios, in the state of Parana; or the Pomeranian (Pommersch) dialect spoken in many different parts of southern Brazil (in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, etc.). Plautdietschis spoken by the descendants of Russian Mennonites.
Although they have been rapidly replaced by Portuguese in the last few decades — partly by a government decision to integrate immigrant populations —, today states like
Rio Grande do Sulare trying to reverse that trend and immigrant languages such as German and Italian are being reintroduced into the curriculum again in communities where they originally thrived. Meanwhile, on the Argentinian and Uruguayan border regions, Brazilian students are being introduced (formally) to the Spanish language.
In the city of
São Paulo, Korean, Chinese and Japanese can be heard in the immigrants districts, like Liberdade.A Japanese-language newspaper, the " São Paulo Shinbun", is published in the city of São Paulosince 1946. [See [http://www.camara.sp.gov.br/noticias_detalhe.asp?id=190 this website] .] There is a significant community of Japanese speakers in Paraná and Amazonas. Much smaller groups exist in Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Suland other parts of Brazil.
More people are realizing in
Brazilthat a person can master and carry more than one language throughout their lives. In other words, integration into mainstream society does not mean that one has to become monolingual. More and more the reasoning is that if languages are a human capitalof great value to some, perhaps they should be considered valuable to one all.
English is part of the official high school curriculum, but just a minority achieve any usable degree of fluency. Spanish is also part of the curriculum and is understood to various degrees by most Brazilians, due to the similarities of the languages. Spanish is slightly more common on the border of Brazil with Spanish-speaking countries, and the mixture of Spanish and Portuguese is jokingly known as
São Paulo, the German-Brazilian newspaper " Brasil-Post" has been published for over fifty years. The Livraria Alemãof Blumenauwas a fixture in the city for a long time. There are many other media organizations throughout the land specializing either in church issues, music, language, etc. The German-Brazilian community in Brazil is estimated to be in the millions.
The Italian online newspaper "
La Rena" offers Brazilian-Italianor Talian lessons.
There are many other non-Portuguese publications, bilingual web sites, radio and television programs throughout the country. For example,
TV Galegafrom Blumenaushows German-language programming on their channel on a weekly basis.
English-languagedaily " Brazil Herald" is directed mostly to tourists, foreign executives and expatriates.
Most major foreign newspapers can be obtained in larger Brazilian cities ("
Frankfurter Allgemeine", " Le Monde", " The New York Times", etc.)
List of Brazil state name etymologies
* [http://paginas.terra.com.br/educacao/GICLI/ListasEnglish.htm Swadesh Listas of Brazilian Native Languages]
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