Alternative name(s): Português (pt), Portugiesisch (de), portugais (fr), Portugees (nl), portugisiska (sv)
Language family: Indo-European
Language group: Romance
Geographical use: Portugal, on the Azores, in Brazil, Macau, Angola, Guinee-Bissau, Cape Verde, Madeira, Mozambique, Sao Tome e Principe, Goa, Damão and Diu in India, and Timor in Oceania; there is also a Portuguese patois based on ancient Portuguese and still used and understood in Malacca
Information: Just like all other Romance languages, Portuguese originated from Latin. It resembles Spanish, despite the differences in phonology, grammar and vocabulary. It contains a lot of words from Arabic, Greek and French. The standard language is based on the Lisbon dialect.
Portuguese has some grammatical forms that no longer occur in other Romance languages, such as the future subjunctive. Apart from this grammar is very similar to Spanish.
Originally, the Portuguese alphabet consists of only 23 letters. It lacked the K, Y and W which were only used for foreign words for which there was no Portuguese alternative. From these three letters, only the Y was used in the past for etymology reasons, e.g. physica = física. A few years ago, however, K, W, and Y were introduced: k between j & l, w between u & v, and y after the final letter z, but still in special cases only.
Portuguese is very interesting for linguists because of its phonetic structure.
The Portuguese vowels can be oral or nasal, the latter by use of ~ (on top of 'a', 'e' or 'o' only) or 'm' and 'n', e.g. irmã (sister), rã (frog), tampa (lid, cover), jardim (garden), som (sound); 'i' and 'u' are also semi-vowels in certain diphtongs (divided into oral or nasal: pai (father), mãe (mother); oral vowels 'a', 'e', and 'o' can take different values too; in certain mainland regions and in the Açores the letter 'u' often sounds like the French 'u' or German 'ü'.
The Portuguese consonants include the
modified the 'c' with a cedilla, 'ç' (=ss) used within the word and
only before a/o/u, and the groups 'lh' and 'nh', which are no separate
letters in the alphabet, cannot be split when dividing a word, and are
used to modify the following vowel, oral or nasal, e.g. coelho
(rabbit), manhã (morning);
certain consonants differ substancially from those of other Romance languages with some having several values.
Although similar to Castilian in many ways, the Portuguese language can often be or sound disconcerting by those who naively believe it is just as straightforward or simple to write and/or speak Castilian, and that is because of the phonetic structure and complexity of its grammar, which turns Portuguese speakers into people who easily understand other Romance languages.