Although Spanish is the dominant language in Latin American countries, the dominant language in Brazil is Portuguese. Consequently, the Portuguese language is the most widely spoken language in South America.

Brazil is a country of enormous dimensions, with a great cultural diversity and also with a strong linguistic diversity.

In the country of Samba, Bossa Nova and Carnival, the language of Camões is spoken by the vast majority of its inhabitants.

But in such a vast country, there is room for Portuguese to coexist with many other languages, such as Spanish, Japanese, Romanian, German and more than 270 indigenous languages.

Sao Paulo is the city where the most people in the world speak Portuguese. Still, there we can also find other languages ​​and communities such as Italian, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese.

The primacy of Portuguese in Brazil

Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese in 1500 by Pedro Álvares Cabral.

When they arrived in Brazil, the Portuguese found 6 to 10 million Amerindians (indigenous population). This population spoke about 1300 different languages.

It is estimated that today there are 170,000 Amerindians and that this population speaks about 180 languages.

Portuguese Jesuit missionaries are believed to have made some effort to study and learn some of these languages ​​in order to build positive ties with local people.

With the arrival of the Marquês of Pombal in Portugal, a ban on the use of local languages ​​was enacted.

Currently Brazilian Portuguese differs greatly from European Portuguese. Portuguese spoken in Brazil today is a mixture of European Portuguese and the original Brazilian languages.

There are about 205 million Portuguese speakers in Brazil and about 10 million Portuguese speakers in Portugal. These data mean that over 95% of the Portuguese language is spoken in South America.

Among the already few indigenous Brazilians, it is believed that 17.5% do not speak Portuguese (they only speak native languages ).

Despite all the linguistic diversity in Brazil, Portuguese is the official Brazilian language.

Is Spanish also spoken in Brazil?

It is believed that there are 460,000 Spanish speakers in Brazil. During the great emigration from Spain to Brazil (between 1880 and 1930), many of these emigrants originated from Galicia (a Spanish region where the language is more similar to Portuguese).

There has always been an attempt by these Galician immigrants to be differentiated from all other South American countries, and for this reason in some areas there has been no fusion of languages.

However, in other regions of Brazil it is possible today to find a language for many people called “portunõl or portunhol”, a mixture between Spanish from Galicia and Portuguese.

Emigrants in Brazil

Although more than 95% of the population in Brazil speaks Portuguese, we also find many foreign communities as an example: German, Romanian, Arabic, Catalan, Japanese, Polish and Italian.

The most widely spoken foreign languages ​​are Italian and German with a concentrated migrant population in the south of the country. German Brazilian is a dialect spoken by 3 million people and Italian Brazilian by 1 million. Germany has a very relevant importance in Brazil as it is (the Brazilian German) the second most spoken language (although the German community is smaller than the Spanish community and the Italian community).

Several Brazilian states recognize as official many of these “alternative” languages.

The Japanese community is also relatively large in Brazil. The country has the largest concentration of Japanese descendants in Sao Paulo (except for Japan, of course).

The Korean and Japanese communities are also very present in Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul and Amazonas.

The influence of indigenous languages

Although indigenous languages ​​do not prevail in Brazil, there is still an effort to officially recognize these languages. According to official 2010 figures, 37% of Indians over age 5 speak one of these languages ​​at home. The percentage rises to 57% when families live in indigenous territory. In 2010 there were 274 indigenous languages ​​and 305 different ethnicities. The figures also refer to 536,000 indigenous citizens and about 67 uncontactable tribes (the largest number on the planet).

These languages ​​can be grouped into two large families called Tupi and Macro-Jê. Among the largest Brazilian indigenous languages ​​are “Guarani, Apalaí, Piraha, Terena, Kaingang, Arara, Cinnamon, Carib, Buroro, Tucano, Tupiniquim, Caraja, Nheengatu, Nadeb and Nheengatu”. The official numbers for 2010 refer to 35,000 speakers from “Kituna” and 26,500 from “Guarani”. Despite the still high number of indigenous languages ​​in Brazil, these languages ​​are in decline and it is estimated that by 2030 over 35% of these languages ​​will have died.