Interested in learning Portuguese Language in India? This article will focus on history, dialects, Portuguese-speaking world, reasons to learn and Portuguese courses.
History of Portuguese language
It was developed in the Western Iberian Peninsula from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, from which all Romance languages spring. Vulgar Latin evolved into the Galician–Portuguese language.
This then broke off into Galician and Portuguese after the incorporation of Galicia into Spain and the independent development of Portugal.
Modern Standard European Portuguese (português padrão or português continental) is based on the language spoken in the area including and surrounding the cities of Coimbra and Lisbon. It is also preferred by the Portuguese-speaking African countries.
In Brazil, There is a written standard, that is under formal guidance of the Ministry of Education, but actually is developed and curated by the Brazilian Academy of Letters Academia Brasileira de Letras (ABL), which publishes the official spelling of words.
The Empire of Portugal
Since the fall of Rome, there has been no empire based in Europe which extends outside the continent. Two voyages in the 1490s lay the foundations for the future empires.
One was lead by well-known explorer Columbus, sailing west for Spain, stumbles upon America in 1492. Vasco da Gama, adventuring south and east for Portugal. In their great voyages of discovery, in the 15th century, they have developed ocean-going skills. Their ships and his sailors were the best for many decades and played an important role in “The Age of Discovery“.
It was the first country that is thrown to the Atlantic expansion in the 15th century thanks to their expertise concerning the technological development of cartography and navigation. There was the Tordesillas treaty between the Crown of Castile and the King of Portugal. It defined who would own lands yet to be discovered and was signed in 1494.
The treaty divided the newly discovered territories outside of Europe into two equal halves, the east and Southside belonging to Portugal, and the west to Castile (later to become part of Spain).
Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498. The second expedition sent to India was commanded by Pedro Álvares de Cabral, but on that voyage, he officially found Brazil in 1500. Portugal colonized Brazil in the 1500s. Later, they banned local languages including Tupi and people were required to strictly speak Portuguese.
In the 16th century, Portugal had dominion over areas from the Atlantic until the Far East, making it altogether a vast empire. Throughout the 16th century, Portugal had no European rivals on the long sea route around Africa.
Portuguese dialects in the world
Portuguese has multiple dialects with a very rich history that has influenced several languages. Two primary groups of variants are European and Brazilian. Between these two, there are differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax but can include differences in grammar.
The dialects within Portugal can also be further divided into northern dialects and southern & central dialects. Due to its geographical isolation from Portugal, Brazil has come to develop a distinct dialect compared to the European one. Since almost 80% Portuguese speakers are Brazilian, Therefore Brazilian is the most popular Portuguese dialect in the world. Some dialects used in Brazil are Caipira, Carioca, Cearense, Baiano, Fluminense, and Espírito Santo.
There is also a unique dialect spoken in the areas between Uruguay and Brazil. This dialect is called Portunhol Riverense. There are several other dialects such as Angolan (Spoken in Angola), Moçambicano (Spoken in Mozambique), Guineense (Spoken in Guinea-Bissau), Timorense (Spoken in East Timor), just to name a few.
In Africa, Asia and Oceania are categorized into Creole and non–Creole forms. Creole is a mixture of local languages with Portuguese. About three million people worldwide speak these creoles.
Some of the well-known are Indo-Portuguese creoles spoken in Goa, Daman, Diu, Korlay in India, Kristang Spoken in Malaysia, Angolar Spoken in coastal areas of São Tomé Island, São Tomé and Príncipe, Crioulo do Barlavento (Creol) Spoken in Barlavento islands of Cape Verde.
There are some other known creoles such as Macanese Spoken in Macau and Hong Kong, Annobonnese in the island of Annobón, Equatorial Guinea, Saramaccan Spoken in Suriname, Sri Lanka Portuguese Creole Spoken in coastal cities of Sri Lanka, etc.
Portuguese speaking population in the world
It is the sixth most natively spoken language in the world. More people speak Portuguese as their native language than French, German, Italian, Korean or Japanese.
It is spoken by nearly 250 million people across four continents. It is the official language of eight countries: of which six are in Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tome and Principe) and one each in Europe (Portugal), South America (Brazil) and Asia (Timor Leste).
It is also spoken in the Portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores.
It is a mandatory subject in the school curriculum in Uruguay and Argentina. It is taught at schools in many countries such as Venezuela, Zambia, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Namibia, Swaziland, and South Africa. 15% of Uruguay‘s population speaks (in the northern regions closer to Brazil) as a native language but it is not an official language in any capacity.
Galician, spoken in Galicia (northwestern Spain), is merely a dialect of Portuguese rather than an independent language; this would make northwestern Spain a part of the Lusophone world.
It is also one of the official or working languages of the Macau (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China) and of several international organizations, including the Mercosur, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Organization of American States, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Southern African Development Community and the European Union.
There is also an active movement to make it the seventh official language at the United Nations. Founded in July 1996, CPLP – Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries is a multilateral forum privileged to deepen the mutual friendship and cooperation among its members.
Currently, there are 9 members including Equatorial Guinea and 6 associate observers such as Mauritius, Senegal, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, and Turkey. The global lusophone population is quite big. Lusophones (lusófonos) are people who speak the Portuguese language, either as native speakers or as learners.
It is also spoken by thousands of people in Goa, Daman and Diu in India. In 2014, Goa successfully hosted the Lusophone Games (which is to the Portuguese world what the Commonwealth Games are to the former British colonies).
Reasons Why to Learn Portuguese Language in India?
Portuguese Scope, Demand and Jobs in India and Abroad
There are numerous benefits and advantages in Learning foreign languages in India.
There is increasing demand and scope for Portuguese Language Experts in India in various industries like Finance, Accounts, Technology, Technical Support, IT/ITES, Tourism and Education. Today, the global economy is seeking specialists in the Portuguese language. Proficiency can offer many job offers from MNCs in Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai.
Due to Brazil’s rapidly growing economy and its economic and geographic closeness to the United States, learning Portuguese is an attractive opportunity for many people. Brazil currently has the world’s seventh largest economy and is rapidly growing, with an important role in global markets such as agriculture, energy, Iron And Steel, Textiles, Machinery And Equipment and manufacturing.
It is not as popular as other European languages in India. However, The demand for Portuguese is growing in India for multiple reasons.
India and the Portuguese-Speaking World
All the eight Portuguese speaking countries offer a distinct stake for Indian interests, and together they represent eight valuable votes and a lot of influence on the global stage.
Currently, only 2 percent of India’s total trade is with these eight countries across four continents. It is now time for Portugal and India to revive this legacy and explore its economic potential in the 21st century and strategically couch their relationship in the context of the Portuguese-speaking countries.
India – Brazil Relations
For long, India and Brazil had remained unexplored by each other. Today, Brazil has become one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) region.
Now, India and Brazil share a very close and multifaceted relationship at bilateral level as well as in plurilateral fora such as BRICS, BASIC, G-20, G-4, IBSA, International Solar Alliance, Biofuture Platform and in the larger multilateral bodies such as the UN, WTO, UNESCO and WIPO.
The regional powerhouses share a relationship that is gradual and progressive. India and Brazil are the emerging nations and both the countries have huge potential to grow bilaterally. This is one of the important reason to learn Portuguese in India.
Beautiful, Easy and Gateway to other Romance languages
Portuguese is a relatively easy language to learn, especially if you already know any other Romance or even Germanic languages such as French, Spanish, Italian or even English because a number of words and grammar rules are nearly identical.
If we compare Portuguese to Asian languages (Mandarin Chinese, Japanese or Korean, for example), studying Portuguese is a cakewalk! If you are looking for easy as well as an important language to learn, Portuguese is probably the second best choice after Spanish language in India.
It is one of the most beautiful, mellifluous and a joy to listen. As the Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac poetically said, Portuguese is “a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela” (the last flower of Latium, rustic and beautiful). It is music to my ears is no exaggeration…don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the videos and you will see what I mean.
Understanding Portuguese has a knock-on effect when starting to learn any other Romance language like Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian. Knowledge of one makes it much easier to pick up any of the others, since they all evolved from Latin and still share grammar and syntax, and have lots of similar vocabulary.
Enjoying Music, Movies and of course Football
Brazilian music, festivities and movies are very much appreciated all over the world! Brazil is the only country that has won the World Soccer Cup five times! Portugal is UEFA Euro 2016 champion.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the best football player in the world. Proficiency in the language can help you to understand the commentary on the football game you’re watching.
Portuguese language in Goa
Portuguese ruled Goa from 1510 to 1961. They were first Europeans to settle and colonize in India. They came to India mainly to trade spices but gradually made colonies here. The first Portugal encounter with India occurred in May 1498 when Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut (present-day Kozhikode).
Afonso de Albuquerque invaded Goa in 1510 and fought the Battle of Goa with the forces of Sultan of Bijapur Adil Shah. In this battle, he was able to take possession of some of the territories of Goa and made them their colonies. In 1530 the capital of Portuguese India was transferred from Cochin to Goa.
Over a period of few decades, The empire of Portugal was spread in many isolated colonies in entire peninsular India. By 1534, Portuguese had acquired Mumbai, Vasai, Virar, Daman and Diu, Surat and entire Goa. In 1579, they had established the town of Hooghly-Chuchura.
By 19th century, They were confined to only Goa, Daman and Diu. They retained it till 1961, when the armies of Independent India forced them out. Goa is an ideal place to learn this language thanks to Portuguese-speaking locals, many Lusophone activities, including the screening of films, music concerts and seminars, events and many more. Goa offers the best environment to study this language in the country and could turn into a hub for Portuguese studies in India.
Portuguese language course in India
There are few Colleges, Universities, Institute and learning centre offering Portuguese language course in India.
Portuguese language learning centre in Delhi
University of Delhi (Arts Faculty), JNU (Centre of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Latin American Studies – CSPILAS), Jamia Millia Islamia (Centre for European and Latin American Studies – CELAS) and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Jawaharlal Nehru Academy of Languages) offer various short-term / part-time certificate, diploma and advanced diploma level courses.
Portuguese language classes in Goa
Not just books but Goa offers rich Portugal tradition, culture, architecture, history, music and cuisine. According to Ana Paula Laborinho, president of the Lisbon-based Camoes institute of cooperation and language (Camoes Instituto da Cooperacao e da Lingua), Goa can be a hub for teaching this language in Asia as the state has shown high interest in the language.
Goa University is the only varsity in the country offering MA programme in the Portuguese language. The state attracts many students who want to learn the language in India. Other than certificate courses, Goa University offers B.A., M.A. and Ph.D in Portuguese.
Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts & Science (Chowgule College) located in the South Goa district of Margao also offers language courses for three levels: Basic, Elementary, Intermediate and Vantage.
In collaboration with Instituto Camões, Each course involves 120 hours of learning and is completed in five months. Since 2012, they also offer BA degree course in the corresponding language. They have dedicated library and film club in order to improve the learning experience.
Portuguese Embassy Cultural Centre (Camões Institute) in India
Affiliated to Portugal’s ministry of external affairs, the institute supports 1,50,000 students and 1,000 teachers in 72 countries across the world. Instituto Camões has two branches in New Delhi and Panaji, Goa. The centres have been established to promote and the teaching of the Portuguese language and culture in India.
Their language Courses for basic, intermediate and advanced levels such as A1, A2, B1.1, etc as per Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The Camoes institute also has e-learning courses with specific modules for different uses such as legal, business, etc.
Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata
The School of Languages offers Beginners’ and Advanced – Level certificate courses in Portuguese. Certificates and the Advanced certificate is awarded after the completion of the Beginners and Advanced course respectively. Website – Link
There are many other private Portuguese learning institutes in other cities, namely Noida, Gurugram, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, etc.