Native Portuguese speakers outnumber those of French, German, Italian and Japanese

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An article in todays New York Times begins:

More people speak Portuguese as their native language than French, German, Italian or Japanese. So it can rankle the 230 million Portuguese speakers that the rest of the world often views their mother tongue as a minor language and that their novelists, poets and songwriters tend to be overlooked.

And concludes:

Spanish-speakers have sometimes jokingly dismissed Portuguese as simply "Spanish, badly spoken." But because of Brazil's huge size and dynamic economy, cities like Buenos Aires and Santiago, in neighboring countries, are now awash in fliers and billboards offering Portuguese language courses.

"For 850 years, our neighbors next door have been saying that there is no future for Portuguese," said Mr. Soares, of the community, referring to Spain. "But here we are, still. The dynamic for the language may come from Brazil, but there is no doubt in my mind that Portuguese as a language will remain viable."

Personally I've always viewed Spanish as degenerate-Portuguese. (Since Portuguese has a wider range of vowel sounds than Spanish... :-)

—Michael A. Cleverly

Comments

Roberto Mello: [ mail | www | link ]

Well, being a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker, but having learned Spanish, I do think that Spanish speakers speak their language more correctly than Brazilians do.

In Brazil we have given too much room for things like "voce" (really not a person), not using proper mesoclises (Spanish speakers usem them all the time, e.g. 'di-me-lo tu') and other things that make the language more consistent and concise.

So whenever I hear people speaking Spanish, I usually think "I wish we Brazilians used our language as correctly as we do".

It's not that Portuguese is "Spanish, badly spoken" since the language is still there, it's just that we in Brazil speak it incorrectly. If we were to compare correct Portuguese to correct Spanish, I like Portuguese much better.

But I have to tip my hat to Spanish speakers that even in countries just as poor as Brazil or poorer, managed to retain more of the correctness of the language over the centuries.

Mon, 23 Oct 2006, 12:33

RCH: [ mail | www | link ]
If I remember my linguistic history correctly (which, I admit, I may not; it's been a while since I studied that sort of thing), Spanish is literally degenerate Portugese -- that is, it was derived from Portuguese. You know, a bastard offspring. ;-)

I can't speak for grammatical correctness, as I only understand a few words here and there, but as for the sound of the two languages being spoken, I totally prefer Portuguese -- either Continental or Brazilian -- to Spanish of any flavor. But I'm kind of a snob like that. :-P

Wed, 25 Oct 2006, 12:16

Alessandro Pereira: [ mail | www | link ]

Portuguese is beautiful... for those who like the culture behind it! The biggest reason why people in Brazil don't care to speak it correctly is the cultural differences in certain places like Parana or Sao Paulo, where the majority of the immigrants were Italian, Japanese, Arab, German and Polack. That's where the butchering of the language comes from, as they always had prejudice towards the Portuguese descent Brazilians! In Rio and all along the coast, the language is most times pretty consistently spoken the right way. It's actually a bad thing to speak incorrectly.. apart from all the slangs! The Northeast of Brazil speaks it very well.

Sun, 12 Nov 2006, 14:31

stewart: [ mail | www | link ]

portuguese will not remain english rules over all other languages. in 850 years ahead english will be the only language spoken by native-speakers and non-natives. Weather you think portuguese and spanish will still be spoken in the future so i advice you all to hush down and admit portuguese and spanish have been stepping down and soon they will die out.

Wed, 09 May 2007, 17:20

rafael: [ mail | www | link ]

are you crazy STEWART, haven't younoticed the changings in the world? Look at the US the era of the "melting pot" is over and now is the "fruit salad" in the southern states speakers of spanish outnumber the speakers of english. If you think a language that would die out, that should be languges spoken by only one country with relatively few people. Like Greek...who the hell talks greek nowadays? and in the future?

Sat, 30 Jun 2007, 16:54

rafael: [ mail | www | link ]

are you crazy STEWART? in what world do you live in? haven't you noticed that in the US the southern states have more spanish speakers than english speakers, and the situation will not invert. English as lingua franca is perhaps ending is days the next language will be spanish. and unfortunetly to all that speak portuguese if we don't unite ourselves and standartize the writing of the language we will have serious problems in the future

Sun, 01 Jul 2007, 04:16

Renato: [ mail | www | link ]

Aqui em Inglaterra os portugueses e brasileiros estao unidos pela lingua lembrem que os judeus portugueses continuam a falar portugues nas sinagogas de Londres...a mais de 400 anos

Thu, 05 Jun 2008, 17:02

Rui: [ mail | www | link ]

Portuguese and Spanish speakers combined account for close to 800 million. These 2 very closely related brother languages are already united re: Mercosur/Mercosul trade agreement and the Latin Union. These two languages are growing by leaps and bounds. The English language will not be the big bully on the block forever. Furthermore, China does lots of trade with Brazil, Venezuela, Angola, Argentina just to name some Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries. This alone guarantees a solid future for these two Iberian languages.

Fri, 29 May 2009, 16:12

Vassilis: [ mail | www | link ]

I'm Greek, I live in Athens and Greek is spoken here for 34 centuries and still in pretty good health.. That goes for Rafael above who said who the hell speaks Greek nowadays.. Well, the Greeks do! and beware of Greeks bearing gifts

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