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Passport to: Portugal and Brazil

How important is Portuguese, really? Well, did you know that there are more native Portuguese speakers than there are French and German speakers combined?

You don’t hear it mentioned in the same breath as English, Mandarin or Spanish. But, truthfully, it should be. Avoid the complacency of others - engaging directly with the world’s many native Portuguese speakers could mean incredible things for your business prospects. Because relatively few people choose to learn Portuguese as opposed to the more popular languages, it can present a huge opportunity to those who do bother.

This month we’re on a journey to the lands where Portuguese reigns supreme - grab the passport!

Quite the linguistic legacy...

Thanks to conquest of Ceuta in 1415 and the era of colonialism thus ushered in by the Império Português, Portuguese means a lot more than just Portugal. As the country in Europe with the longest-lived empire, Portugal has certainly made its mark on the world linguistically.

The legacy of this is that there are far more native Portuguese speakers than the mere 10,000,000 or so that populate the Iberian peninsula. With overseas possessions once including (but not limited to) present-day Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Macau and East Timor, the total Portuguese native speaking population numbered over 215,000,000 in 2010. A grand audience indeed, and one that is rapidly growing.

To put that number in context, consider that there were 155 million Russian native speakers in 2010 and 89 million German (according to the Nationalencyklopedin). The below graphic clearly demonstrates Portuguese in its rightful spot amongst the top six languages by native speakers (listed by proportion of native speakers worldwide).


Source: Mikael Parkvall, ‘Världens 100 största språk 2007’ (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin.

Follow the yellow BRIC road

As one of the prodigious ‘BRIC’ countries, Brazil’s incredible economic potential is hardly a well-guarded secret. And as a country of a staggering 208 million, Brazil’s latent economic power needs little explanation - but here are a few facts anyway.

Not only does Brazil have the numbers, but also - increasingly - the spending power, making it even more attractive a marketplace for your products or services. With a population that surpassed 200,000,000 in 2011, Brazil’s poverty headcount has fallen from 24 per cent in 2003 to under 7.5 per cent in 2014. And although the economy has seen a blip over the past couple of years, GDP per capita remains over four times higher than its 2002 level.

Brazil is a ticking time-bomb of growth and prosperity that seems set to explode - and yes, you guessed it - the key to these Brazilian marketplaces is with Portuguese translation.

… But not any old Portuguese translation

Okay, sounds good, we hear you say. You and your business portfolio want a piece of what Brazil offers - you can almost picture yourself relaxing on one of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana or Ipanema beaches before an afternoon business meeting. Snap out of those daydreams for a moment, however. If you think your Portuguese translation is fit for purpose, think again.

Spread to foreign countries through trade and conquer centuries ago, each colonised country has developed its own variant of Portuguese. Not paying due care to these differences could cause offence and compromise your marketing campaign, website translation or patent documentation - whatever it may be.

As language is tied to identity, never underestimate the acute awareness of these differences - in the UK, nothing is more obviously American than the spelling ‘color’ appearing in the UK. When comparing Brazilian and European Portuguese, the differences span everything from vocabulary, spelling, grammar to forms of address.

Your first meal of the day in Portugal would be pequeno-almoço, whereas in Brazil you’d be tucking into café da manhã. In Lisbon you’d get on the trem, but in São Paulo the comboio - these lexical differences go on and on, and even vary depending on where you are in Brazil.

As texts written for a European audience would look decidedly foreign to a Brazilian, Alexika has specialist translators that are based in Brazil. Mother tongue translation is the best way to guarantee that your product portfolio gets the warm reception it needs.

“Back from the brink”: Portugal’s economic clout

All this talk of Brazil is of course not to forget Portugal itself: a highly advanced economy and ‘high income country’ according to the World Bank. You won’t be able to get a slice of this modern, vibrant business hub without Portuguese translation - and luckily, there’s never been a better time to dive into Portugal.

Having recovered considerably since the Eurozone debt crisis, the country experienced year-on-year growth of 2.8 per cent in 2017, the strongest for almost 2 decades; the IMF is quoted as saying “Portugal’s near-term outlook has strengthened considerably”. Certainly a marketplace worthy of consideration for your product portfolio.

Of course, this isn’t to mention the various other jurisdictions that use Portuguese as an official language: Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Macau. Phew.

Don’t be a BRIC short of a load - get in touch to see how we can get your Portuguese translation project off the ground.