Portuguese Language Facts

Portuguese Language Facts

1. The Origins

Portuguese is a Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin and Medieval Galician. After becoming the language of Portugal, it spread worldwide when Portugal developed its colonial empire, including in Brazil. The differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese emerged in the 18th century, with Brazilian Portuguese being heavily influenced by Italian and other non-Portuguese colons.

2. The Speakers

Ranked as the sixth most natively spoken language in the world, Portuguese is spoken by 260 million people worldwide. This number is expected to grow as Portuguese is the fastest-growing European language after English. Not only Portuguese is spoken in Portugal and Brazil, but it is also an official language in African and Asian countries, including Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe.

3. The Tongue Twisters

Some of the most difficult and popular Portuguese tongue twisters include:

  • O rato roeu a roupa do rei de Roma – The rat gnawed the king of Rome’s clothes.
  • A aranha arranha a rã. A rã arranha a aranha – The spider scratches the frog. The frog scratches the spider.

4. The Loan Words

Portuguese has influenced English and other Western languages. Words originating from the Portuguese exploration and used nowadays in English include flamingo, cobra and piranha.

5. The Alphabet

Until recently, the letters k, y and w were absent from the Portuguese alphabet. Owing to the strong influence of English, they have been added to write foreign names.


  • SKY1