Portuguese Language vs. Spanish Language

[Originally published on 7 September 2012]

When I was living in London whenever I said I’m Portuguese people would start talking to me in Spanish. And I would say: “That’s Spanish”. And then they went on speaking to me in Spanish… I realize that Spanish and Portuguese are very similar to English ears but… Don’t do that! For us is quite different. It’s like talking in German when a person says he/she is from UK or USA. It just don’t make any sense.

Ok, it’s true that 1000 years ago there were no Portuguese and Spanish languages. They were one and the same. 1000 years ago. Yeah, a lot have changed since then. The rumor has it that the Portuguese language was developed in a way so that Spaniards would not understand anything we were saying. If that’s true, it worked perfectly: if you speak in Spanish to Portuguese people they probably will understand you; but if you speak Portuguese to Spanish people they will only understand you if they’ve learnt Portuguese.

This has historical roots, of course. Spaniards (to be exact, people from the Castilla y Leon region) thought it would be a great idea to have the whole peninsula under their ruling. So, they started adding the little kingdoms around them (the current regions in Spain were kingdoms 1000 years ago). It all went well until they try to do the same with Portugal. For centuries they failed, time after time… Portuguese people shattered Castilla y Leon King’s dream… too bad.

One more historical note: did you know that in 1494 Portugal and Spain signed the Treaty of Tordesillas that divided the world in two – the Portuguese side and the Spanish side?

Nowadays it seems that Portuguese and Spanish languages are becoming very popular throughout the world. If you’re thinking of learning a new language but you don’t know which, pick one of these. If you wish to learn both I suggest you start with Portuguese. It’s harder, that’s for sure. But it’s easier to go from Portuguese to Spanish because of the pronunciation: if you learn the Spanish one first it’s going to be a nightmare to lose it and get the Portuguese one.

Here’s another tip: Brazilian Portuguese is easier to learn that European Portuguese. It’s like English language: there’s the British English (which would be the equivalent to the European Portuguese) and the American English (which would be the equivalent to Brazilian Portuguese).


Check other articles related to translation and languages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s