Every time I talk to someone who wants to learn Portuguese, this person comes up with a bunch of questions: what's the difference between BP (Brazilian Portuguese) and EP (European Portuguese)? Which one is better? The only thing that he/she forgets is that I am brazilian! I'm very biased to give my take on that, ain't I?! Since I've always wanted to clear that up, I'll try to be as much impartial as I can. I do not want to take any sides on this, trust me. Don't worry!
First of all: there's no better! It all depends on your needs. Why would you learn BP if you're going to Portugal or vice-versa? That doesn't make any sense at all! Just think about it: if in a single country there are lots and lots of regional differences regarding the language, the differences from a country to another should be astronomical - even if they have the "same" language. Now, we can't say that there aren't any similarities, because we'd be taking extremist positions. What I want you to know is that yeah, BP and EP are very different from each other.
Ok, Aryel, ok! I know that they're different,
cut the crap! I would have not asked that question if I didn't know that. What's exactly the difference between them?
Oh, God! All right, let's figure that out!
1 - The Accent
The "*two" accents are completely different! Seriously, they have absolutely NOTHING to do with each other! It's not that hard to know when the person who's speaking has a BP or an EP accent. BP accent sounds more clear (at least to my ears, of course hahaha) while EP sounds more like French/Spanish, I don't know. They (the Portuguese) tend to extend the "s" (like "sh") and their "r" (if I'm not mistaken) slightly sounds like it is made with the throat. EP speakers speak a bit faster. Due to these and several other differences, sometimes they have a hard time understanding each other. Since EP is the "mother" of our language, I don't know if they have the same issues there, but over here we have to put subtitles (most of the times) to understand what they're saying while watching something on TV or on the internet.
** There are many accents in Brazil.
2 - The Spelling/Grammar
You might've heard that the Portuguese speaking countries reached an Orthographic Agreement. That's true, but don't take it too seriously. As I said before, each country has its own characteristics. How do they ever expect us to change our language after years of tradition? It at least sounds like an offense to me and to most of the Brazilians that I know. I'm sure the Portuguese must feel the same way. Though we are now forced to write by following the new rules (at school, universities, etc), you can be sure that we haven't changed our way of speaking - not even a bit. The same goes for them, which is perfectly acceptable. The structure of our sentences remain the same in "real" life. If you really want to go for the basics, you should know that Brazilians normally place a pronoun before a verb. Most of the time, it'd be considered incorrect in EP, in which the pronoun is generally placed after the verb. Ex.:
-> She greeted me
Brazil: Ela me cumprimentou
Portugal: Ela cumprimentou-me
3 - Vocabulary
Now you have to be very careful! Those two dialects have simple, but dangerous words that can be completely misunderstood depending on where you are. For instance, in English we have the word "line". There are different meanings for it, but I'll take the traditional one (like a line in a bank). How do we say that in Portuguese? Well, if you're in Brazil you'll have to say fila. If you're in Portugal, you'll have to say bicha. Here's the danger! The meaning of bicha in Brazil is far from line. What in Portugal is a simple word for this term, in Brazil is a slang for gay. Once there was a Portuguese student in my brother's school who got really embarrassed on his first day because of this. He didn't know what it meant here and well... There's no need to say what happened. There are many other words and sentences that will trick you like that. I'll list a few of them:
-> To get a shot (needles) on the butt
Brazil: tomar uma vacina na bunda
Portugal: levar uma pica no rabo
If you say that you tomou uma pica no rabo in Brazil, people will automatically think that you had sex, that is, that you had a dick in your ass. I'm sorry for the dirty words. I just want to make it as clear as possible.
Cueca in Brazil means underpants (for men). If you're a girl, don't ever say that you're wearing a cueca, because it won't come over too well.
Propina in Brazil means bribe. If you hear that a cop got propina from someone, it means that he/she was bought off.
I found this picture in one of my old books. Take a look:
|Book: Pílulas de Sabedoria Instantânea da Professora Etelvina|
Author: Gehringer, Max;
Publishing House: Globo Editora
4 - Slang
Brazilians tend to use many more slang than the Portuguese. You've probably heard that Brazilians are friendly and free-spirited people. Guess what? That's totally true! We don't use slang because we don't know how to use the formal speech (some people really don't, but I guess it's the same everywhere), but you want to know what? It sucks over here! No frills! When we're talking, we try to be polite and get closer to the other person. We like to make them feel comfortable. You should know that 80% of times we avoid hard words and formalities. We only take this way if we really have to (in a meeting, during a presentation or whatever). But hey! I'm not saying that the Portuguese are arrogant or anything. They just like to keep their language as it is.
Well, those are the major differences. As you can see, there are many more between BP and EP than in AE and BE. However, don't ever let these obstacles put you off. Think properly and see which one meets your needs. I particularly wouldn't say that they're the same language anymore, but... Officially, they are!
If I were to visit Portugal, I'm not sure if I'd use my Brazilian accent there. I'd probably speak English... Why? Well, I don't like to jump to conclusions, but I've been told that they don't like it that much. Since I've never been there, I can't tell (but I'm the kind of person who likes to cover all the bases. I guess I wouldn't like someone looking down on me for my dialect). We should never change our language for others, but we should treat them with respect. If they don't like it... Anyway! Don't worry if you learn EP... We'd still understand you (with your help, of course), but it wouldn't be a big problem. We like differences... After all, that's what makes us unique, isn't it? :)
Did I forget anything? Have you ever had a hard time understanding one of these dialects? Tell me in a comment below!
Have a nice weekend! :)