Home Brazilian versus Iberian Portuguese
Mission Statement
Brazilian or Iberian?
Machine Translation
Brazilian Market



In the following paragraphs, we deal with the differences between the two main variants of Portuguese, their origins and explain why it is advisable to employ native speakers for translation assignments into each variant.

Two major factors contributed to the differences between the European and South American varieties of Portuguese. Compounded by its geographic isolation from the rest of the world, Brazil had fundamental restrictions imposed by the Portuguese with regards to the introduction of universities and a native press from the very start of the colonization process. As a result, language and culture in Brazil enjoyed stronger African and native American influences than in most colonies held by the Spanish, British or French.

The first influence absorbed into the colonizers' language resulted from the contact with native indians, who belonged to various language groups. This contact was so important that a 'lingua franca' was devised by Jesuit priests, which incorporated elements from Portuguese and mainly from the Tupinamba group of Indian languages. This hybrid language was instrumental in the communication between the white colonizers and native Americans, and in the attempts, by the former, to convert the latter to the Christian faith. However, in 1758, the Portuguese Marquis of Pombal decreed Portuguese as the official language of Brazil. The Jesuits were expelled from Brazil the following year.

With only an oral basis to support itself, Brazilian Portuguese underwent roughly three centuries of undisturbed and substantial diversification from the Iberian variant, from the moment the Portuguese first began to settle in the country until the relocation of the Portuguese Court and Government to Rio de Janeiro in 1807, fleeing from the Napoleonic threat of invasion to Portugal. The first print shop and the first newspaper printer in Brazil were founded in 1808.

It is therefore not surprising that some phonetic discrepancies remain between the two varieties, but they do not prevent communication of written text between Portugal and Brazil. More extensive differences are observed in morphology, syntax and lexicology, however. These are the differences that can prove an obstacle to translators in one variant attempting to reach readers in the other one.

It is in the area of computer terminology that these obstacles are more obvious, where the wider adoption of anglicized terms in Brazil is in strong contrast with the gallicized terms favoured by Portugal. Although theoretically possible, it is totally inadvisable to use the same translation for both markets. Along with some other colleagues, who are sensitive to the challenges involved in translating into the foreign variant, ideas translated tries to always convey to prospective clients and to translation companies the extent of the differences between the two variants and the risks involved in translating into the foreign variant of Portuguese.