Lingua: Vidas Em Português – Documentary

I just saw a great documentary on the Portuguese language which spans the globe and all the lusophone countries. It’s called Língua: Vidas em Português (Language: Lives in Portuguese) and it really opens your eyes to how many different peoples speak Portuguese. As the late Saramago says in the opening credits, “there isn’t a Portuguese language, there are languages in Portuguese.” The film opens with another nice line that says something like “Every night, 200 million people dream in Portuguese. These are some of them.”

If you’d like to see a similarly-themed documentary (in PT) copied from a VHS tape to Google Video, try Além Mar (here’s part 1) although if you’d really like to see Língua, then I’m sure that (assuming you can’t purchase it) by entering the full name into Google then adding the word ‘baixar‘ (download), you may be able to find it.

Why Portuguese is not Spanish

How many times have you heard someone who doesn’t speak both Portuguese and Spanish say that the two languages are similar (enough)? Meaning if you speak one, the other isn’t that hard to use also. Of course the joke here is that he/she speaks “Portunhol” but if you look at a recent article (PT) in O Globo, you’ll see Portunhol is very different from people’s idea of it.

Focusing again on the reason for this post, I’d like to insert my quick opinion of both languages and their differences. Portuguese and Spanish are not the same and are not that similar. From the pronunciation to syntax to the grammar to the vocabulary and including the slang, it’s not right to confuse the two! Spanish-speakers won’t appreciate it and neither will Portuguese-speakers when you visit their countries. Additionally, there are enough differences to deal with when looking at European vs. Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish from Spain versus from Latin America.


If you want to look at why Brazilians speak Portuguese, it’s enough to look into a certain treaty.

“Technically, the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas divided the New World between Spain and Portugal. An imaginary line, running north–south from roughly the mouth of the Amazon to what is now Santa Catarina, was drawn on the map. Land to the east became Portuguese territory; land to the west fell under Spanish control.”- Source

And if you want to look at why Portuguese exists, here’s a brief explanation.

After the Roman conquest of the Iberian peninsula the Vulgar Latin replaced virtually all local languages. In the territories along the Atlantic coast it gradually evolved in what is technically known Galician-Portuguese language. Later, following the incorporation of Galicia into Spain and the independent development of Portugal, this language split in Galician and Portuguese branches. – Source

Mutual Inteligibility

Now, what do they have going for them that helps one person learn the other? Mutual inteligibility, principally in written form, can be helpful due to the fact that the two langauges can be categorized under the same sub-family of languages called West Iberian. A perfect example of this can be found in the following paragraph,


Pero, a pesar de esta variedad de posibilidades que la voz posee, sería un muy pobre instrumento de comunicación si no contara más que con ella. La capacidad de expresión del hombre no dispondría de más medios que la de los animales. La voz, sola, es para el hombre apenas una materia informe, que para convertirse en un instrumento perfecto de comunicación debe ser sometida a un cierto tratamiento. Esa manipulación que recibe la voz son las “articulaciones”.


Porém, apesar desta variedade de possibilidades que a voz possui, seria um instrumento de comunicação muito pobre se não se contasse com mais do que ela. A capacidade de expressão do homem não disporia de mais meios que a dos animais. A voz, sozinha, é para o homem apenas uma matéria informe, que para se converter num instrumento perfeito de comunicação deve ser submetida a um certo tratamento. Essa manipulação que a voz recebe são as “articulações”.


On the flip side, the differences abound (and the list could virtually be endless). Here are a few examples of the Spanish term followed by the Portuguese.

– Tienda/Loja (store)
– Rodilla/Joelho (knee)
– Calle/Rua (street)
– Ventana/Janela (window)
– Borrar/Apagar (to erase)
– Olvidar/Esquecer (to forget)
– Manejar/Dirigir (to drive)
– Llamar/Ligar (to telephone)

The days of the week are also quite different with the exception of Saturday and Sunday. If we add the influence of regionalisms, colloquial speech and the differing accents, what results is something deep and rich on both sides. So let’s not confuse the two languages anymore please because with just a few weeks of preparation, you can give either language a more honest shot. Of course, if you wish to really seek out the true depth of both, you’ll need a good 10 years of study…for starters.

You can find a long list of additional differences here on Wikipedia, where I found some of the material.


If you’re learning Portuguese, check out my ebook, 103 Tricky Verbs in Brazilian Portuguese!

Brazilian-Portuguese Internet Slang

Internet Slang

vc, cê = você (you)

eh = é (it is, that’s right, confirmation)

neh = né (isn’t it)

num = nem (don’t even)

naum, ñ = não (no)

rs, rsrsrs, kkk, huhauhauha, = risos (lol)

hj= hoje (today)

fds, findi = fim-de-semana (weekend)

k, q, oq = que/o que (what)

td= tudo.

blz= beleza (beauty) Beleza means “beauty” literally, but it can also be used as “alright”.

Oi, e ai, blz? (hi. how are you (is everything alright)?)
blz (yea. its alright)
vamos sair hj?
blz. (ok. alright)

tbm= também

qq = qualquer (any)

bjs, bjoo, bjks = beijos (kisses, goodbye)

t + = até mais (until later)

soh = só (only, just)

vô = vou (I go)

tô, toh = estou (I am)

tá, tah = esta (you are, he, she, it is)

anything with an extra ‘h’ is because the person writing doesnt want to put an accent on the letter.

ahnram – equal to uh-huh (also as in, yeah-right)

hein? = equal to huh, right?

hum – equal to um (Brazilians don’t use ‘um’ because in Portuguese it means ‘one’)

cúe? = qual é? (what’s it to you? what’s the problem?)

fdp = filho da puta (son of a b****)

aff= shock interjection, used for both positive or negative impressions. It derives from Ave, which comes from Ave-Maria.

putz = another shock interjection (normally for something thats hard to believe)

po, poh = porra (shit, what the hell)

pqp= puta que o pariu = damn! if translated literally, its very impolite.


If you’re learning Portuguese, check out my ebook, 103 Tricky Verbs in Brazilian Portuguese!