What Language do They Speak in Brazil? (It’s Not Spanish)

What language do they speak in Brazil?

Even being located in South America where most part of the country’s official language is Spanish, this is not the case for Brazil.

Brazilian Portuguese is the official language in Brazil. As long it is very similar to the Portuguese spoken in Europe, there are differences.

To understand why most part of Latin America speaks Spanish and Brazil don’t, we need to dig a little deeper into the origins of the country and an old treaty signed-up between Spain and Portugal. After reading a little bit of history, don’t forget to check this amazing infographic.

Why do Brazilians speak Portuguese?


A little bit of History

Brazil was colonized by Portugal, back in 1500, when an expedition led by Pedro Alvares Cabral got here. The expedition arrived in Brazil on April 22, 1500, as a result of the great navigations promoted by Portugal during the 15th century.

On the other side of the continent, since Columbus discovered America, Spain started to colonize part of South America. With both shores of the lands of Latin America being explored by different forces, there’s was only two possible ways to solve future issues regarding ownership of the land: war or some kind of agreement.

Surprisingly the way out was agreement. That’s when they signed The Treaty of Tordesillas. This treaty in 1494 drew a north-to-south line through South America. Spain gained territory west of the line, while Portugal retained the lands east of the line, including the east coast of Brazil.

If you have already seen the current Brazilian map, you probably noticed that It does not represents the division determined by the treaty. It happened because through the years the “line” was not respected exactly and Brazil extended its territory some portion to the west.

Spain noticed that fact, and then in 1750, a new treaty was signed, the Treaty of Madrid. In this document, Brazil (Portugal back then) gave up some lands that were a huge interest for Spain (the territory that is Uruguay today) in exchange for lands that gave Brazil a shape very similar to what It is now.

Even so, the important part to understand is that as Portugal got the “ownership” over the side of the line that became Brazil, the official language became the same one from the colonizers.

Through the years the language passed through a lot of changes and became the Brazilian variation of Portuguese spoken today.

Brazilian Portuguese is a little bit different than European Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese and Portuguese spoken in Europe are not the same. There’s a lot of differences in the language that is the result of cultural adaptation through the years.

It’s not like the languages are totally different, If you’re a Brazilian you can obviously communicate with someone from Portugal, but there are differences.

The biggest one is probably the accent, but there’s more. For example, the are more than a dozen cases where a word is a regular day-to-day use in Brazilian Portuguese but It’s a dirty word in Europe and vice-versa. It’s funny how the languages evolved differently through the years.

There’s any other language that they speak in Brazil?

Yes, but not in a relevant matter. If you Google more on this topic I guarantee you’ll find some posts saying that there are some other languages different than Portuguese in Brazil, but trust me: in 99% of the places the only language spoken is Portuguese.

These other languages spoken in Brazil involve lots of indigenous languages, especially in some remote places of the Amazon rainforest.

Is it possible to visit Brazil without knowing the language?

Different from some countries in Europe where everybody knows English as a second language, this is not so common in Brazil. So studying a little bit of Portuguese or even Spanish before can brings great benefits.

Is it possible to travel without knowing the language? It definitely is. As I said, knowing some Portuguese will help you a lot, but if you planning to visit the major tourist cities, you’ll be fine.

Of course, there are some worries that you need to have, so pay attention to the following tips:

  • When you’re traveling to a place that you don’t know well you need to use common sense and be more careful, in Brazil it’s no different. In that sense, using some translate apps and getting hosted in a good hotel will do for you. Avoid staying in places that have not received a good rate on booking websites.
  • If you know some Spanish it’ll help you a lot. I mean, a lot. As long as Spanish is not the official language in Brazil, the language is very similar to Brazilian Portuguese. So, If you took your Spanish classes seriously back in school you can handle most of the daily situations in Brazil. Brazilians are very receptive and I guarantee that everyone will make a large effort to help you to communicate if they see that you can understand some words.

Now you know exactly What Language Is Spoken in Brazil, you learned that It’s not Spanish and why and received a plus content explaining that you can travel to Brazil without knowing Portuguese. Awesome, right?

If you liked the content, share to a friend and read more posts with helpful tips and facts about Brazil, including travel and food! 🙂

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