Portuguese…Nothing like Spanish

Curitiba Travel Blog

 › entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
JB Boonstra

Before coming to Brazil, I always thought Portuguese was extremely close to Spanish. I figured since I already knew Spanish that picking up Portuguese would be easy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Though I can see how someone who doesn’t know either language very well would definitely think they were similar, Spanish and Portuguese are very different in my opinion. There are things that are exactly the same between the two languages such as aqui and some of the verbs, but this only gives the false impression of similarity. The accents are very different, most words are different, even letters are pronounced differently in the two languages. Portuguese is very nasally and has weird pronunciations such as the “chee” for -ti and –te. It also uses an ‘h’ sound for the letter ‘r’ and a ‘y’ sound for the letter ‘h’. Portuguese sounds to me like someone threw Spanish, French, and some Asian language such as Chinese or Japanese and threw them all in a blender and pressed ‘PUREE’.
    Another misgiving I had before coming to Brazil was the assumption that people in Brazil would be able to speak Spanish. I figured since they were surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries, that most people would have picked up on the language of their neighbors. Unfortunately again, this is not the case. In fact, I’ve talked to more Brazilians that speak English than I have with those that could speak Spanish. Some Brazilians even are offended if you try to speak Spanish to them. I find this very interesting. I’m in no place to make a definitive conclusion, but I wonder if it’s not some kind of manifestation of national pride or identity. Maybe Brazilians feel a need to set themselves apart from the rest of the continent.
    Though this may be classified as close-mindedness, I don’t like Portuguese. Brazil is a wonderful place and I almost every aspect of it, except the language. In my opinion, people simply sound funny when they speak it with all those nasal tones and ‘chee’s. Also, I feel like learning Portuguese has launched an assault on my Spanish! I was just starting to get the hang of Spanish in Buenos Aires and was finally able to understand most people and communicate effectively when we left for Brazil. With the Portuguese language classes and simply hearing it spoken everyday, I feel that my Spanish is suffering. My skills in Spanish did not have time to cement themselves and they are easily corrupted. It feels like Portuguese is a virus in my Spanish computer, slowly forcing itself into all files and corrupting the hard drive. This gives me a natural inclination toward actively trying NOT to learn the language here in Brazil. I realize that this is an excellent opportunity to learn another language that I’m passing up, but I see a lot more use for Spanish and I want to loose as little as possible of the language that I’m so close to at least being proficient in. Maybe one day, after I’ve mastered and become comfortable with Spanish, I’ll return to Brazil and give this odd tongue another chance. But until then, I’ll just stick with Spanish.

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