Not sure about learning the Portuguese language in India?
While a lot of people speak around the world, not many are learning it in India. Here are some of the compelling benefits, scope, career options of studying Portuguese!
Table of Contents
- History of the Portuguese language
- Portuguese speaking population in the world
- Top Reasons to Learn Portuguese in India
- The popularity of the Portuguese language in Goa
History of the Portuguese language
It was developed in the Western Iberian Peninsula from Latin, the tongue of the Roman Empire, from which all Romance languages spring.
Vulgar Latin evolved into the Galician–Portuguese language.
It then broke off into Galician and Portuguese after incorporating 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 Coimbra and Lisbon.
Portuguese-speaking African countries also prefer it.
There is a written standard in Brazil under the formal guidance of the Ministry of Education.
It was developed and curated by the Brazilian Academy of Letters (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 extending outside the continent. However, two voyages in the 1490s lay the foundations for 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 sailors were the best for many decades and played an indispensable role in “The Age of Discovery.”
It was the first country that was thrown to the Atlantic expansion in the 15th century. It was due to their knowledge in the 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 halves.
The east and southside were from Portugal and the west to Castile (later to become part of Spain).
Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498. Pedro Álvares de Cabral commanded the second expedition sent to India, 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 speak Portuguese strictly.
In the 16th century, Portugal had dominion over areas from the Atlantic until the Far East, making it a vast empire.
Throughout the 16th century, Portugal had no European rivals on the long sea route around Africa.
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.
Nearly 250 million people speak it across four continents.
It is the official language of eight countries: 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 and a mandatory school subject 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. Still, it is not an official language in any capacity.
Galician, spoken in Galicia (northwestern Spain), is merely a Portuguese dialect rather than an independent language; this would make northwestern Spain a part of the Lusophone world.
It is also one of the officials or working languages of the Macau (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China).
Plus, several international organizations like 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 the West African States, the Southern African Development Community, and the European Union uses Portuguese.
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.
There are nine members, including Equatorial Guinea, and six associate observers, such as Mauritius, Senegal, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, and Turkey.
The global lusophone population is quite significant.
Lusophones (lusófonos) speak the Portuguese language, either as native speakers or as learners.
Thousands of people also speak the Portuguese language 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).
Portuguese dialects around the globe
Portuguese has multiple dialects with a vibrant history that has influenced several languages. Two primary groups of variants are European and Brazilian.
There are differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and syntax but can include gaps 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 developed a distinct dialect compared to the European one.
Since almost 80% of Portuguese speakers are Brazilian, Brazilian is the most famous Portuguese dialect globally.
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.
Several other dialects exist. For example, Angolan (Spoken in Angola), Moçambicano (Spoken in Mozambique), Guineense (Spoken in Guinea-Bissau), Timorese (Spoken in East Timor), to name a few.
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 on the island of Annobón, Equatorial Guinea, Saramaccan in Suriname, and Sri Lanka Portuguese creole in Sri Lanka coastal cities are examples.
Top Reasons to Learn Portuguese in India
There are numerous benefits and perks of learning foreign languages in India.
1. Career options after learning the Portuguese language 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 jobs involving languages from MNCs in Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, 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 influential 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 like French, Spanish, or German.
However, The demand for Portuguese is growing in India for multiple reasons.
2. India and the Portuguese-Speaking World
All the eight Portuguese-speaking countries offer a different stake for Indian interests. 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 Portuguese-speaking countries.
3. India – Brazil Relations
For a long, India and Brazil had remained unexplored by each other.
Today, Brazil has become one of India’s most important trading partners in the entire LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) region.
Now, India and Brazil share a very close and multifaceted relationship at the bilateral level and plurilateral fora such as BRICS, BASIC, G-20, G-4, IBSA, International Solar Alliance, Biofuture Platform. Also, in the broader 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 emerging nations, and both countries have enormous potential to grow bilaterally.
This is yet another important reason to learn the Portuguese language in India.
4. Beautiful, Easy, and Gateway to other Romance languages
Portuguese is a relatively easy language to learn, especially if you already know other Romance or even Germanic languages.
French, Spanish, Italian, or even English have many 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!
It is one of the most beautiful, harmonious, and joyous to listen to.
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).
If I say It is music to my ears, it 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 learning other Romance languages like French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian.
Knowledge of one makes it much easier to pick up any of the others. But, again, all evolved from Latin and still share grammar and syntax and have lots of similar vocabulary.
5. 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! In addition, Portugal is the UEFA Euro 2016 champion.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best football players in the world.
Proficiency in Portuguese can help you to understand the commentary on the football game you’re watching.
The popularity of the Portuguese language in Goa
Portuguese ruled Goa from 1510 to 1961.
They were the first Europeans to settle and colonize 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 Sultan of Bijapur Adil Shah’s forces.
In this battle, he was able to take possession of some of Goa’s territories and then made them their colonies.
In 1530 the capital of Portuguese India was transferred from Cochin to Goa.
Over a few decades, Portugal’s empire was spread in many isolated colonies in entire peninsular India.
By 1534, the Portuguese acquired Mumbai, Vasai, Virar, Daman and Diu, Surat, whole Goa, and Hooghly-Chuchura in 1579.
By the 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 and many Lusophone activities, including screening films for Portuguese learners, music concerts, seminars, and events.
You can also learn Portuguese in Delhi, Mumbai, and other parts of India by enrolling in one learning center.
The Instituto Camões, a Portuguese international institution dedicated to promoting the Portuguese language and culture, has two centers in India — New Delhi and Goa.
Goa offers the best environment to study this language in the country and could turn into a hub for Portuguese studies in India.