Brazilian Portuguese basics
So what language is spoken in Brazil? If you said "Spanish", like many, you would be quite wrong - please remember it is Brazilian Portuguese!!
Brazilian Portuguese is spoken and written differently to European Portuguese.
Mind you, getting the language wrong is not as bad is saying the capital is Buenos Aires, it has been Brasilia since 1960 if you didn't know, and as the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina on the football field evokes strong feelings - be warned!
So why Portuguese, not Spanish?
Brazil is certainly the largest, most populous country and the economic powerhouse of South America, but it is the only country on the continent that does not speak Spanish. Why?
Well, at the end of the 15th century, forseeing the discovery of South America, a papal decree deemed lands west of Cape Verde Islands belonged exclusively to Spain and the land east of the line was to belong to Portugal, who complained and got the line moved west resulting in their control of the eastern part of the newly discovered continent which later became Portugal's largest colony Brazil and through the next decades and centuries, intrepid adventurers called bandeirantes pushed back the frontier through the Amazon region to give the modern map of South America.
When the Portuguese settlers arrived, they found the native Indians with of course their own languages, the most common from the grouping Tupi-guarani, and many indigenous names are still used today - especially place names, such as Pernambuco, the State which Recife is the capital, and regional foods.
Portuguese is spoken today by over a quarter of a billion people on four different continents, as a result of colonisation and are known collectively as Lusophone countries. The Brazilians have created their own dialect and words, some of which vary by region (see other My Guide sites to compare), and they are by far, the largest Portuguese speaking nation.
English-speaking in Recife and North-East region
In Recife, English is spoken by a small minority, mainly the middle class, so whilst you will have a wonderful time even without speaking Portuguese, to enjoy it best, we have listed some common Brazilian words and phrases below. In all the large hotels and restaurants popular with tourists, you will find someone to help out.
Note Brazilians are very tolerant and appreciative of any effort made by foreigners trying out even basic words or phrases. If all else fails, resort to hand signals and have a laugh. If you speak one of the other "Latin or Romance" languages, you may recognise many of the words (especially written) and the rhythm and gestures.
Here in the North-East, the locals (Nordestinos) are renowned for their friendliness and seem to almost sing when they talk - no wonder they are wonderful musicians. In Recife and Pernambuco State, they even have their own words for many things - not exactly a dialect - called "Pernambuques".
With the upcoming FIFA Confederation and World Cups in 2013 and 2014, several programmes are in place to teach basic English to the locals who will have direct contact with visitors such as taxi drivers, waiters and volunteers.
Good Morning|Bom Dia|Bohm-gee-ah**
Good Afternoon|Boa Tarde|Bow-ah tar-gee**
Good Evening|Boa noite|Bow-ah noy-chee**
Hello|Olá or Oi|Oh-lah, or Oy**
Hi/How are you?|Tudo bem|Too-dou behm**
My name is…|Meu nome é|Meh-oo gnome-ee eh**
What is your name?|Qual é seu nome?|Ku-all eh cell gnome-ee**
Please|Por favor|Pour fah-vour**
Thank You|Obrigado (men)/Obrigada (ladies)|Oh-brie-gah-dah / doh**
Excuse me|Com licença|Cohn lee-sen-sah**
Do you speak English?|Você fala inglês?|Vo-say fah-lah een-gleh-z**
Can you help me?|Pode me ajudar?|Paw-gee me ah-joo-dahr?**
How do I get to…|Como chego a…|Coh-moe shay-gu ah…**
21|vinte e um|veen-chee-oohm**
22|vinte e dois|veen-chee-doy-z**
Red wine|Vinho Tinto|Vee-nio Cheen-toh**
White wine|Vinho Branco|Vee-nio Brahn-koh**
The bill|A conta|Cohn-tah**