By Hagen Weiss
Many clients that come to us for a Portuguese translation are not familiar with the different dialects that exist. However, this is something that should be considered and discussed with us before starting your translation project.
Especially considering that Brazil has the largest number of Portuguese speakers in the world by far (significantly more than Portugal) and, as a result, has developed many different regional dialects, which makes it a challenging decision for a non-speaker of the language.
Is Portuguese Translation Only in Brazil and Portugal?
No, in addition to Brazil and Portugal, Portuguese is the official language in a number of countries in Africa and Asia; the language spread to these continents through colonization by the Portuguese Empire in the 1500s.
In Africa, Portuguese is the official language in the following countries:
- Cape Verde
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Equatorial Guinea (one of three official languages)
In Asia, Portuguese is one of the official languages in:
- East Timor
However, there are only two recognized Portuguese dialects worldwide, Brazilian and European (spoken in Portugal, Asia and Africa), which is why we are only discussing the differences between those two in this article.
What Are Some Differences Between Brazilian and European Portuguese Translation?
One of the first things that someone who learns Portuguese as a second language will notice is the difference in pronunciation between the two dialects.
Brazilian Portuguese tends to be easier to understand for non-native speakers as Brazilians break down the words and distinctly pronounce every vowel. European Portuguese speakers tend to put less emphasis or skip over some vowels, which means that there is sometimes a big difference between how a word is spelled and how it is spoken.
Moreover, some consonants are pronounced completely differently. For example, the letter “s” when placed at the end of a word is pronounced as “ss” in Brazil and as “sh” in Portugal.
The language having evolved differently in both countries, there are some major differences when it comes to vocabulary. A bus is an “autocarro” in Portugal and an “ônibus” in Brazil and ice cream is a “gelado” in Portugal and a “sorvete” in Brazil. These are just two examples out of many more.
And some words have completely different meanings, which could put you in an awkward situation… “Rapariga” in Portugal means “girl”, but the same word in Brazil is used to refer to a prostitute. Thus the importance of using the services of an experienced translation agency that is familiar with both forms of Portuguese as well as with local idioms.
Like in Spanish or French, there is a difference between European and Brazilian Portuguese when it comes to formality.
In Brazil, the pronoun “vôce” is used in most circumstances, while in Portugal there is a distinction to be made: when addressing someone formally, one would use “vôce” but in a more informal environment “tu” would be used (which also affects the conjugation of the verb that follows).
Following the signature of the Portuguese Language Translator Orthographic Agreement (“Acordo Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa de 1990”) in 1990, some new spelling rules were set in the goal of eliminating inconsistencies between the Brazilian and European variants of the language; these rules must be kept in mind when translating to Portuguese.
The changes notably include the elimination of some accents and some silent letters (“c” and “p”) and establishes guidelines when it comes to hyphen usage and capitalization.
While this agreement’s agreed-upon transition period ended in 2015 and, as such, spelling is now technically standardized through participating countries, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t localize your translation specifically for your target audience, as local idioms and customs still exist.
Should You Choose Brazilian or European Portuguese Translation?
While it is the same language, there are some major differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese. For that reason, we recommend determining where most of your customers are located in order to translate and localize your content accordingly, which will, in turn, get you the best return on investment.
Usually speaking, Brazilian-Portuguese is the most dominant variety of Portuguese on the internet and in games. Brazil has also one of the most active gaming communities in Latin America and with over 211 million people living there compared to Portugal with only around 10 million inhabitants, it makes the most sense to pick Brazilian-Portuguese for most of your needs.
Of course, if you are just starting out and translating your product to Portuguese for the first time, it might be sufficient for you to have it translated using a more neutral approach and to eventually have it localized for the appropriate market once you have more customer data. This is doable because, as with many other languages (such as Spanish and French ), the differences are more noticeable when speaking the language than when writing it.
We have professional Portuguese translators that hail from both Brazil and Portugal and who will be able to advise on the best way forward for your translation project.
Contact us today for more details.
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