20 Endangered Languages in Europe: Your Complete Guide
February 21st was an International mother language day.
Do you know what language is spoken in Brazil?
Many of you would say, ‘It’s easy, Portuguese, of course.’
Yes, that is right. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil.
But, if we asked you ‘how many languages are spoken in Brazil,’ would you know the answer?
Some of you might say Spanish or some of the indigenous languages, but that’s not it. There are many more.
But let’s start from the beginning.
Brazil is one of the most populated Portuguese-speaking countries.
It is also the largest country in Latin America, and its largest city, São Paulo, is also the largest city on the continent.
With its impressive beaches, national parks, and unique culture, Brazil is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
Even though Spanish is the official language in most Latin American countries, Portuguese is the one that is actually the most spoken language.
Brazil is the largest country on this continent, and with 211 million people, it is the country of variety and different cultures. Therefore, no wonder that there are many spoken languages besides Portuguese.
The Portuguese Empire was quite powerful in the Middle Age, so around 1532, Portuguese noblemen and military commander, Pedro Álvares Cabral, reached the shores of Brazil to find natural resources.
We would say that the rest is history but it’s not that simple. Borders of today’s Brazil were set in 1777 after many disputes with French and Spanish military forces. At that time, the first Portuguese immigrant arrived.
Portuguese became one of the spoken languages, along with Lingua Geral and some African languages used by African slaves.
Slowly but safely, Portuguese became the language Brazilian tribes started to learn. Year by year, children, grandchildren, and other descendants started to speak Portuguese as their mother tongue.
Besides the official language that is Portuguese, other languages are:
Brazilian Sign language
Indigenous languages as Tupian, Arawakan, Cariban, Macro- Je, and many more.
Portuguese is the 9th most spoken language in the world with more than 252 million speakers. Most of them are Brazilians.
The Portuguese language is collectively called Brazilian Portuguese.
Indigenous languages influenced the original Portuguese a lot, which can be clearly seen in idioms and phrases.
Thanks to immigrants from Europe, especially Germans, the Portuguese spoken in Brazil is full of German expressions used in everyday life.
Furthermore, African dialects as Quimbundo, spoken in Angola, or Bantu and Yoruba groups influenced the way of life, style, and folklore as well.
To show you how big and magnificent Brazil is, just take a look at the fact that even though Brazil is the only country in South America where Portuguese is the official language, more than 98% of inhabitants speak Portuguese.
Libras or Língua Brasileira de Sinais is the Brazilian Sign language. Unlike sign languages in other countries in the world, this one is independent.
It is recognized by the government and it’s a way of communication between deaf speakers in Brazil.
It is estimated that more than 5 million Brazilians use Libras.
And here is one interesting fact: Língua Brasileira De Sinais has several different dialects, depending on the region of the country.
During the 1940s, Germans started to immigrate to Brazil massively, so many of the immigrants continued using their native language.
There are around 1.9% of the population or three million German speakers in Brazil, and those are mostly speakers of the German dialect of West Central Germany, the Hunsrückisch. This German dialect influenced Portuguese a lot, which can be seen in everyday phrases and vocabulary.
Despite the fact that the German community is much smaller than Italian or Spanish, the language is, after Portuguese, the most spoken in the country.
How much German is important in Brazil shows the fact that this language is declared as the co-official language in the Rio Grande do Sul, a state in the southern part of Brazil.
As much as it sounds weird, Italian is one of the languages spoken in Brazil.
Just like Germans, during the 20th century, many Italians, especially Venetians, immigrated to Latin America, mostly to Brazil.
Italian is spoken in several municipalities in the Rio Grande do Sul, where it has a status of an co-official language.
Today, in this area, around 30% of the population is of Italian ancestry.
It would be logical that the Spanish language is one of the most spoken languages in Brazil, but it’s not.
You must be wondering how is that possible?
After 1830 many Spanish immigrants that came to Latin America were Galicians. Galician is more similar to Portuguese than Spanish, so they mainly assimilated into the Portuguese.
Today, in Brazil, only around 460,000 people speak Spanish.
However, Spanish found a way to be a part of the Brazilian culture. On the borders with other Spanish-speaking countries, Portuñol or Portunhol is quite popular. It’s a pidgin language, a combination of Spanish and Portuguese.
Who would say that Brazil is the country that has the largest concentration of Japanese descendants? Japanese started migrating around 1908.
Today, they mainly live in São Paulo.
Their impact can be seen in food traditions, art, cultural events, Japanese songs, and even religion.
So, believe it or not, if you wish to improve your Portuguese, not only that you can do it, you can also practice other languages, and Japanese is definitely one of them.
The same story comes with other languages that are today spoken in Brazil, such as Catalan, Polish or Ukrainian from Europe, and Chinese and Korean from Asia.
While Chinese and Korean speakers can be found in Mato Grosso do Sul and Amazonas, Polish and Ukrainian can be heard in Paraná and Santa Catarina.
Around 58% of the population that live in indigenous territory speak the indigenous language fluently. It shows that even though they aren’t the most spoken in Brazil, they certainly have an impact on the people, Brazilian culture, and way of life on the whole.
According to the Census, there are around 274 different indigenous languages, 536,000 speakers of indigenous languages, and 67 tribes that aren’t contacted at all, which is the largest number in the world.
The biggest indigenous language families are Tupi, Macro-Jê, Arawakan, Nadeb while other big families are Arára, Canela, Carib, Buroro, Tikuna with 35,000 speakers, Tucano, Xavante with 13.300 speakers, Tupiniquim, Caraja, Nheengatu, with 19.000 speakers who live in Rio Negro region, etc.
Even though there are so many indigenous languages, the devastating information is that one indigenous language dies out almost every day. It is considered that by 2030 one third of these languages will no longer exist.
According to the British Council, only 5% of the Brazilians communicate in English.
However, Brazilians are aware of the importance of English. According to some, there is a problem with a lack of learning materials and methods. The hope remains that this post-modern era and the internet will make English more accessible.
Brazil is worldwide-known as a country of diversity. Just like you can find some plant and animal species in Amazon that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, the same way their variety of languages continues to impress us.
Book lessons, start learning, and impress the locals once you get there.
February 21st was an International mother language day.
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