Portuguese Culture Reference Guide
(Portugal/Angola/Mozambique/Cape Verde/ Guiné-Bissau/São Tomé e Príncipe)
Olá / Como tem/tens passado? / Tudo fixe? / Como tá/tás?
Hello / How have you been doing? All in good shape? How are you doing?
“Bom dia / tarde/ noite” (Good day / afternoon / night), accompanied of a kiss in each cheek, even if it is the first time they meet someone. Handshake is used at work related environments.
Adeus / Até logo / Até amanhã / Passa bem / Beijinhos (on the phone as a goodbye)
Goodbye / See you later / See you tomorrow / Feel well / Little kisses
Ôi! / E aí? / Tudo bem? / Tudo jóia? / Tudo numa boa? / Tudo legal? / Como vai você?
Hi! / What's up? / Everything well? / Everything shiny? / Everything going well? / All in good shape? / How are you doing?
“Bom dia / tarde/ noite” (Good day / afternoon / night), accompanied of a kiss in one cheek, even if it is the first time they meet someone. Handshake is used at work related environments.
Tchau / 'Té logo / 'Té amanhã / Passar bem / Vam'bora (Vamos embora) / Se cuide
Tchao / See ya later / See ya tomorrow / To feel well / Let's go / Take good care of yourself
There are 3 forms of “you”:
Portugal/Angola/Mozambique/Cape Verde/ Guiné-Bissau/São Tomé e Príncipe:
Tu - when one is well acquainted. In some families people get into the habit of not using “tu” in between themselves. It denotes a certain aristocracy. Verb used in the 2nd person.
Você - Used mainly by Brazilians. In certain parts of Brazil, tu is also used. Senhor e Dona as well, mostly when there is difference in social class. Verb used in the 3rd person.
O senhor / A senhora/dona (sir/madam) - in formal situations, or when one doesn't know the person, or there is a recognizable social superiority to consider. At times, sir/madam is omitted using the form of the verb only to deliver the message. Verb used in the 3rd person.
Personal space and touching
For sure Portuguese don't like to be pushed around. Brazilians like a good crowd and African Portuguese are very touchy. So, remember that when you find a Portuguese from those different continents.
Eye contact and gestures
Portuguese are very expressive with their hands, even when they are on the phone.
It seems, that because they speak their mind very strongly, they aren't so good at eye contact. Brazilians are just the opposite: they can tell you the biggest lies looking into your eyes directly without blinking. They are very good actors/esses. Those from Africa though, are very mellow and quite shy, but don't trust the politicians! Of course, these are all generalizations.
Portuguese Population in the United States
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In the NW corner of the Iberian Peninsula, there seems to have lived 2 tribes: the Galician, and in the western side, the Lusitanians, scientific studies saying these being of Celtic origin. They seemed to get along well: It took the Romans almost 2 centuries to conquer them. Nevertheless, they fast got into Christianity and the Latin language, which 4 centuries of Muslim invasion later on wasn't able to derail. They did get some Arabic input, and some from the north barbarians (Visigoths) as well who “visited” in between. Besides Lusitanians and Galicians, who were much bound by language, the Peninsula was also inhabited by Basques, Castilians, Catalans and some others whom, little by little, were able to repel for good the invaders around the 11th century.
D. Afonso Henriques was the 1st king (self-proclaimed) of Portugal in 1139.
By then the Galaico-Lusitan language (Romanço), had been forming since the 9th century, and first appeared in writing in the 13th century.
King Denis, The Poet, instituted the language as official in the beginning of the 14th century, while building the 1st University in Coimbra.
Some Literary Folks
Gil Vicente, the Portuguese Shakespeare, helped spread the language in between popular circles.
Along came Luiz de Camões, the Epic poet, who made Portuguese proud of their language during the discoveries.
“Se mais mundo houvera, la' chegara.”, Luiz de Camões, Os Lusíadas, VII, v.14
Translation: “And, could new worlds by human step be trod, Those worlds should tremble at the Lusian nod.”, by William Julius Mickle
Although Mickle's translation portraits the Lusitans as fierce (tremble) people, they are more the adventurous type, who fearlessly jump into the unknown to satisfy their thirst of knowledge. Their determination took them to every corner of the world, while supported by the gold and diamonds arriving from Brazil.
Another great poet, Fernando Pessoa, showed a language that could be creative and profound while playful. He would say: “My homeland is the Portuguese language”.
José Saramago, a journalist and novelist with a sweet sarcastic sense of humor, got the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1998.
In South America, Brazil is the country with most Portuguese speakers (almost 210 million), but there is a large Portuguese speaking community in Caracas, Venezuela as well (about 300k).
Opposite to their colonial parents, Brazilians are a very social 'tribe', essentially team players and party goers. They are also jokers and love to laugh, play and talk about soccer, and get prepared for carnival. They promise a lot but are not such good achievers, as they get distracted easily.
The vocabulary and grammar is a bit different from the Portuguese in Portugal, with great influence and pronunciation remaining, it sounds, from North of Portugal. Brazilians have a hard time understanding Portuguese from Portugal, but those from Portugal understand very well Brazilian pronunciation. Brazilians have the terrible habit of laughing about the European Portuguese way of speaking, what doesn't go well with the later grumpy humor.
Nevertheless, Brazil has great influence from several different immigrants, mainly Italians, French, German and Japanese. Brazilians are very fond of United States, and thus there are many loanwords from there:
Blood pressure: Brazil = Pressão sanguínea; Portugal = Tensão sanguínea
Cell phone: Brazil = Celular Portugal = Telemóvel
Train: Brazil = Trem Portugal = Combóio
They are very prolific inventing slang.
Nossa / Beleza / Valeu / É ruim / Cara / Bacana / Rolar
Wow / Great / Thanks / No way / Guy / Sweet / To Happen
In terms of grammar there are slight differences:
1. They put the subject before the verb in reflexive ones:
Brazil = Me dá um beijo Portugal = Dá-me um beijo (Give me a kiss)
2. Some changes on prepositions:
Brazil = Vou no cinema Portugal = Vou ao cinema (I'm going to the movies)
3. Frequent use of gerund vs Infinitive:
Brazil = Estou me preparando Portugal = Estou a preparar-me (I'm getting ready)
This one, a huge influence of American speech.
There are about 40k Portuguese in Argentina as well.
The African continent possesses about 50 million lusophones, though much grew into a creole type. The language is official in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guiné-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe and Equatorial Guiné (co-official). Namibia, South Africa and Zambia have large Portuguese communities, with schools where Portuguese is taught. Angola and São Tomé e Príncipe are the two countries where the Portuguese language keeps most of its main structure. In the other countries, only those with college education and living in urban setup keep the resemblance to the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. As Brazil, they have slight grammatical and vocabulary changes related to their native languages.
In Asia, two locations keep Portuguese as a co-official language: Macau and East Timor. In India, it is still spoken and taught in Goa, but in Daman and Diu, one can find older Portuguese speakers still, while most use a creole version called “Língua da Casa” (Home Language).
Portugal, is composed of the main European land and of the two insular autonomous archipelagos of Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, what makes about 11 million citizens.
In Portugal there are four main different pronunciations:
1 . North: which mainly switches “v” into “b”. They also swear a lot, like in NY City.
2 . Central: Lisbon style, where words ending in “r” are added an “e” in the end.
3. South: where that “e” is rather “i”. In general, words have more “i”s.
Note: The phonetic of “e” is like in “rose” and the “i” one is like in “India”.
Azores has 11 islands, some with exotic landscape. Due to the long distance, it kept an archaic tone, and whale hunting since the 18th century made it a port base for Americans in this activity. It helped create loanwords (“friza”: freezer; “slipas”: sleepers; “gama”: gum; “mapa”: mop...) and brought into USA (Massachusets and New Jersey), a lot of Azorians.
In Madeira and in the very little island of Porto Santo (“Saint Port”: people there are know as Prophets), they seem to talk as they have their mouth full of food. Again, due to isolation from the mainland and a great number of British transplants (mainly producing Madeira wine), they acquired some loanwords as well as their very own vocabulary.
Portuguese speakers all over the world like to add “inho/a” to the end of the adjectives and nouns, with the intention acquired that everything small is sweeter and nicer: kiss / beijo = beijinho; nothing / nada = nadinha; problem / problema = probleminha; house / casa = casinha... Very seldom do they not use that diminutive.
Also, they “eat” a bit their vowels.
Men'no - Menino (Boy)
Esp'rança - Esperança (Hope)
P'daço - Pedaço (Piece)
They are very formal mainly in their administrative documents, and one shouldn't call them by their first name if not well acquainted: you ought to call them by their last name with “Senhor” or “Dona” as prefix. Nor should you address them in the street or in a public transportation without knowing them (or for some specific good reason). They don't like home gatherings, but are very social in a coffee shop or in venues specifically created for gatherings.
They don't like to talk about their economic situation or about what they do for living, but religion or politics are a common base of conversation. They love to talk about soccer games as well. Like most people with Latin origins they like to talk loud.
They are very straight forward, bordering rudeness, and dislike liars. They are opinionated and like to offer advises.
Hours are 0 to 24, omitting thus 'am' and 'pm', but it is common to say “Uma da tarde/manhã” (One in the afternoon/morning – or two or three, and so forth). They also divide the hour in quarts: quarter to 1, 1 and a quarter, etc.
Countries Where Portuguese is the Official Language
In total, there are around 250 million Portuguese speakers in the whole world, situating the language in the 9th place. It is the 4th one in Europe.
São Tomé and Príncipe
Luso-Americans are all over the USA map. For just a hint of how many there are, look into this list.
There are around 1.5 million lusophones in between the USA and Canada.
These are approximate numbers taken from different sources and data collection, dated between 2017-2019.
Fall River (MA), with a total population of about 95K, remains the city with the highest proportion of ethnically Portuguese residents (43.9%) in the United States.