Getting familiar with Brazilian Portuguese

Different times I’ve been asked how I got around in Brazil without speaking Brazilian Portuguese or even Portuguese. The answer is quite simple: Sometimes with hands and feet, sometimes with English; but always with a smile. And of course: Badly pronounced Spanish.

Getting to know Brazilian Portuguese was quite a surprise to me. I thought I would not learn it during my short stay and that I would have to rely on finding someone who speaks English. After reading a lot of signs, buying things and listening to the people on the street I found out: If you speak Spanish you can communicate in Brazil, you simply have to mumble.

Spanish: un, dos, tres
Brazilian Portuguese: um, dois, três
Spoken: um, doisch, tresch

Some words look a bit different in Brazilian Portugues than in Spanish, but are easy to translate – at least by reading them out loud.

Beach: playa / praiha
Potato: patata / batata
Hello: hola / olá
Fish: pez / peixe

Some words really differ and you have to learn them. Especially the fruits are named different. But after some days it was pretty easy for me to have the small necessary talks without using English.

Pineapple: abacaxi
Apple: maçã
Papaya: mamão
Strawberry: morango

And you definitely need the names of fruits in Brazil, but if they are too hard to remember, just stick to açai (pronounced: “ahtschei”) – a wonderful palm fruit with purple colour. 🙂

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