Brazilian and European Portuguese, differences
Thread poster: Doris Fukuda
Doris Fukuda
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 10, 2004

Dear Portuguese Translators,

1.
I would like to know the differences between Brazilian and European portuguese.
Are they very different? Will you pleasae tell me the most importatnt details?

2. If a Manual in Portuguese is intended to the Portuguese native speakers living in the United States, which is the Portuguese we should select: Brazilian Portuguese? European Portuguese? or is there any "International Portuguese"?

Our client, is wondering if European Portuguese is fine for the Unites States....

3. If the "messages that appear in the screens of the menus of a camera" are written in European Portuguese (because the messages are already translated and already in the cameras), can it be acceptable if the Manual is written in Brazilian Portuguese? I know this might sound a bit "strange" but I am asking just to be sure.

I hope to get some comments and ideas regarding this topic.

Muito obrigada queridos amigos!


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Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:53
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Plenty of differences Aug 10, 2004

Here's my own interpretation, completely intuitive and unscientific, from the perspective of a native English speaker who has been lucky enough to make a career out of this beautiful and fascinating language:

1. Brazilian and European Portuguese... are they very different?

Yes, very different. Kind of like putting someone from the Outer Hebrides in a conversation with a rancher from the interior of New Mexico.

In addition to differences in spelling (e.g. acção vs. ação for "action"), grammar (e.g. estou a falar vs. estou falando for "I am speaking") and word usage (e.g. mais pequeno vs. menor for "smaller"), the biggest differences are almost definitely in pronunciation, in my humble opinion. I can always tell whether a song is from Brazil or Portugal after the first line... but I may not be able to distinguish an American versus a British singer even after song is over.

As far as technical texts, it still pays to be careful. Even though the formal written Portuguese as studied in Portugal and Brazil may present less drastic differences than those of everyday speech, specific terminology in technical fields does differ across the pond. A good article on this can be found at http://www.necco.ca/faq_european_brazilian_port.htm.


2. Which is the most appropriate Portuguese for a U.S. audience?

Tough call. There are lots of folks of both Portuguese and Brazilian descent here in the U.S. Statistically I do not know which group is bigger, but I can say that both are significant.


3. If part of the project is already done in European Portuguese, can the other part be done in Brazilian Portuguese?

This will depend entirely upon the specifics of your project, but if you are working with highly skilled translators then you should be able to make it work, in particular if they are: native speakers, good writers, sensitive to the linguistic differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese, attentive to detail and working from a common glossary.

Hopefully some other Prozians can add some insights to this interesting question from other corners of the globe.

Good luck to you!

Todd


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:53
German to Italian
+ ...
Sorry Todd... Aug 10, 2004

... but the link doesn't work, at least in my browser.

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CristinaPereira  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:53
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely there are differences! Aug 10, 2004

Hi Doris,

Mostly, I agree with Todd’s comment, I just want to emphasize some points, from a Portuguese (Portugal) native speaker’s point of view.

1. I would like to know the differences between Brazilian and European portuguese. Are they very different? Will you pleasae tell me the most importatnt details?

There are considerable differences, yes, I would say more or less like there are between American and British English, in my humble opinion. Like Todd said, pronunciation is the most obvious difference, but there also differences in style, spelling and even different words for the same thing. But this is something that also happens in different regions of a same country. I’ll just give you a famous example: fato in Brazil means “fact”, whereas in Portugal it means suit (apparel). Fact in Portugal would be “facto” (Brazilians don’t use the “C” before the “T”). Also a curious thing that happens, I think, is that we, Portuguese, can understand a Brazilian discourse much easier than they can understand us talking. I think it’s common to subtitle Portuguese soaps or movies in Brazil – perhaps some Brazilian colleague can confirm this. But of course we understand each other perfectly in writing.

2. If a Manual in Portuguese is intended to the Portuguese native speakers living in the United States, which is the Portuguese we should select: Brazilian Portuguese? European Portuguese? or is there any "International Portuguese"?

I really don’t know what to say to you… perhaps if you could have a statistic on the number of Brazilian and Portuguese people living in the US, you could opt for the largest community. But I don’t know, really. I would choose European Portuguese, but that’s just my personal opinion And then, just to complicate matters a little bit more, check this: “A comunidade lusófona — constituída essencialmente por brasileiros, cabo-verdianos e portugueses — conta actualmente com cerca de 3 milhões de falantes de português nos EUA bem como no Canadá” (http://www.camara.gov.br/internet/Camara500/Seminarios/ID_JCouto_P2.htm)


3. If the "messages that appear in the screens of the menus of a camera" are written in European Portuguese (because the messages are already translated and already in the cameras), can it be acceptable if the Manual is written in Brazilian Portuguese? I know this might sound a bit "strange" but I am asking just to be sure.

It sure is strange! I think it would be best to do everything in one of the “languages”, whatever you choose, because it would be more consistent. Technical terms, I’ve noticed from my Proz experience, are often different from country to country.

Hope to have assisted you in any way.

Good luck!

Cristina


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Delio Destro  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Diff. Br/Eu Port Aug 10, 2004

This is my take on the subject. Like the previous answer, it is not scientific and I know you can find real linguists that would disagree with me.

The differences are many and they vary depending on the subject. Computers, for instance, show a lot of differences as the Portuguese tend to use their own terms, as oppose to we Brazilians who keep lots of them in their original English form.

From a marketing standpoint, I would never use a European Portuguese brochure or manual in Brazil. It sounds funny, as I believe that our manuals sound just as funny in Lisbon. Worst of all, it will feel like you are trying to save on the translation on the account of your target audience. Not a good sales technique.

As for day to day Portuguese, I believe the Portuguese are more used to our lingo than we are to theirs. We produce a lot more material (TV shows, magazines, books, etc) than they do for the simple reason that we are some 170 million against some 20 something million in Portugal.

My suggestion is: for all practical reasons, treat them as different languages.

Boa sorte,

Delio


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
link not working Aug 10, 2004

Hello Doris,

If you find the link above is not working, please visit http://www.necco.ca and then search for the article on "Differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese". This should direct you to the given article. This website also has other interesting articles on this matter.

As for European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese differences, in my opinion the differences increase as we go into more specific subjects. For general issues and daily life subject matters/daily conversation we (both in Portugal and Brasil) have to admit we do understand each other. But for specific subject matters terminology is very different and a general European Portuguese speaker will most certainly have difficulties in understanding. As an example I usually use TV channels specialized in specific subject matters and translated into Brazilian Portuguese. A very well-known TV channel used to transmit automotive info and translated into Brazilian Portuguese has sentences as:

A nova planta na Alemanha

"Planta" is used here to translate "plant" but no one in Portugal will understand it as such as in Portugal "planta" is either a "drawing" (in sense of buiding) or a "plant" (in sense of a flower/herb/etc).

Therefore in Portugal we would rather say:

A nova fábrica/instalação na Alemanha (fábrica/instalação depending on context)

This is one example only but hundreds could be found.

Apart from the national proud (since Portuguese and Brazilian people don't like to have their own language treated as the same thing), spelling and terminology are different in both countries and these differences increase as we go into more specific areas. In Portuguese-speaking African countries and East Timor the European Portuguese is used. As for other countries having large Portuguese-speaking communities, I suppose any variant (European Portuguese/Brasilian Portuguese) would be acceptable. Choosing one or the other might be based on Embassy-provided figures or on client preferences.

In the case stated, having European Portuguese used in software and Brazilian Portuguese used in software/equipment manual might generate problems for the user, unless technical terms used in software are kept inside brackets in manual. This format is sometimes used: a couple of years ago when I was still working in-house we had a client (automotive area) that had a large market in Brazil and a small market share in Portugal so the client had specific rules for translation. The workshop material was translated into PTB but crucial terms were input in PT as well (PT used in brackets). How can we detect a crucial term? The PTB team had an European Portuguese translator who was going through the PTB translations and pointing out the terms not understood in Portugal. This created a list of words/terms that needed to have an European Portuguese term attached to it.

This wasn't a perfect solution but surely helped the client to cut down translation costs with workshop literature. The client was clever enough to keep customer literature translated separately both into European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese as they knew this was a good marketing option.

I am sure some other opinions will be collected on this thread.

Best regards
Mónica Machado
English into European Portuguese Translator
Member of APT, IOL and ITI

[Edited at 2004-08-11 17:04]


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Necco Portuguese Translations
Local time: 15:53
English to Portuguese
Link To Necco Sep 5, 2004

Hello Doris:

Probably is too late, but the right link is:
http://www.necco.ca/faq_european_brazilian_port.htm


I have been trying to collect articles about this issue, so there is a series of articles in the website. The link takes you to the first one.

Regards,

Nelson
www.necco.ca


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Tomás Rosa Bueno  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Mutually incomprehensible in technical texts Oct 13, 2004

Hello, Doris,

I know this may be a bit late, but here I go anyway:

Doris Fukuda wrote:

1.
I would like to know the differences between Brazilian and European portuguese.
Are they very different? Will you pleasae tell me the most importatnt details?


Essentially and officially, there are only very minor differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese. Grammar rules are exactly the same for both, and dictionaries in Portugal and Brazil try to keep track of the differences in vocabulary (many) and spelling (a few). However, it is on the *interpretation* of how these rules should be applied that war is waged.

Especially in the field that concerns your client, a camera manual, the differences in vocabulary would be so great as to make a Brazilian version virtually incomprehensible to a Portuguese reader and vice-versa. Start with "screen", for example: in Portugal it is "ecrã", which in Brazil is an unknown word that means precisely nothing, and in Brazil it is "tela", which means "screen" in Portugal in the fourth dictionary definition. Moreover, differences in the use of grammar rule would make a Brazilian text seem pidgin to a Portuguese reader and a Portuguese text sound pedantic to a Brazilian reader.


2. If a Manual in Portuguese is intended to the Portuguese native speakers living in the United States, which is the Portuguese we should select: Brazilian Portuguese? European Portuguese? or is there any "International Portuguese"?


The Portuguese who live in Portugal are more used to the Brazilian way of speaking and writing, thanks to Brazilian soap operas watched voraciously in in their country and to Brazilian songs. However, my experience with Portuguese living abroad is that they *do not* understand Brazilian Portuguese. I once had a client in Germany whose Portuguese employee would speak English every time he phoned us in Brazil. So for the Portuguese community in the US the right choice is definitely European Portuguese. There is no such thing as "International Portuguese". All attempts to produce one ended in a complete fiasco.

Our client, is wondering if European Portuguese is fine for the Unites States....


Depends on who your client's target audience in the US is: if Portuguese, European Portuguese is certainly fine. If Brazilian, European Portuguese is unacceptable. What is more, either community will *resent* the use of the other version as a lack of respect.


3. If the "messages that appear in the screens of the menus of a camera" are written in European Portuguese (because the messages are already translated and already in the cameras), can it be acceptable if the Manual is written in Brazilian Portuguese? I know this might sound a bit "strange" but I am asking just to be sure.


If it is addressed to a Brazilian audience, it would only be acceptable if it comes with a glossary explaining each term in the camera's in-built menus.

In short, Brazilian Portuguese causes a Portuguese audience to frown. And European Portuguese causes a Brazilian audience to laugh. It is certainly a very bad marketing mistake to use either "version" with the wrong audience.

Hope this helps,

Tomás

PS.: I've just seen that everything I say is said with "beaucoup d'élégance" and a wealth of details in the articles found in Necco's site. Hi, Necco, nice site.

[Edited at 2004-10-14 00:30]


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Deolindo  Identity Verified
Angola
Local time: 23:53
Member
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Soap operas? Oct 30, 2004

I'm not Portuguese, but I think this claim that the Portuguese understand Brazilians better because they are voracious consumers of soap operas seems to be a bit outstretched. I have German, British, Australian, and French friends (they don't watch Brazilian soap operas spoken in Portuguese) who always tell me that it is easier for them to understand a Brazilian than a Portuguese. The European Portuguese variation tends to be rhythm based, which makes a lot of ending sounds almost inaudible to a foreign ear. It's like a musician compressing three or four notes in a beat. They also have a lot of mute or closed vowels. Brazilian Portuguese on the contrary tends to be more syllable based, bordering Italian. You also hear a lot of very open vowels.

[Edited at 2004-11-01 06:44]


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João Roque Dias  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:53
English to Portuguese
It is virtually impossible... Mar 3, 2005

All too frequently, I have been asked by prospective clients about the differences (if any, some even add...) between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. Instead of writing my own version of the story, I decided to collect and place under one roof some of the best links and information I could find about this subject:

http://www.jrdias.com/jrd-portugal-brasil.htm


Tomás, in his comment above, has, indeed, summed it up when he said: "In short, Brazilian Portuguese causes a Portuguese audience to frown. And European Portuguese causes a Brazilian audience to laugh. It is certainly a very bad marketing mistake to use either "version" with the wrong audience."


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