Linguistic Prejudice and Brazilian Portuguese

Linguistic Prejudice and Brazilian Portuguese

I want to write about something that it’s been hunting me for some years now. It is not about the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese, but that there are, in fact, differences, why they exist and how do we react to them. First, I will start explaining: Many changes in the Brazilian Portuguese grammar were made in history, and more than once the Orthographic Agreement (Acordo Ortográfico) was changed in order to unify the Portuguese language. The Portuguese grammar was always a difficult subject in the schools, and these changes just make it worse. Even though I always celebrated the differences, now that I work with languages I understand their efforts to bring the Portuguese of all these countries together – how simpler would it be if they were just one, just as the Spanish. The attempt to bring the language closer was naive, because, after an ocean of distance and culture between us and our pioneers in Portugal, people in Brazil didn’t change the way they spoke just because a paper was saying it was wrong. Now this, of course, raised some damages. This is the reason, for example, that teaching or learning Brazilian Portuguese is difficult: you need to explain the grammar and then how it works in the spoken language – because is two different things! The personal pronouns, for instance are: eu, tu/você, ele/ela, nós, vós, eles. However we don’t use vós in the spoken language and we add another personal pronoun that does not exist in the grammar: a gente (which also means nós). The conjugation of the verb also changes from the written to the spoken language. As an example, I will use the verb amar.

How the grammar say it is:

  • Eu amo
  • Tu amas
  • Nós amamos
  • Vós amais
  • Eles amam

How do we actually say:

  • Eu amo
  • Tu ama
  • Nós amamo
  • A gente ama
  • Eles amam

Now, the facts: European Portuguese speakers like to say we butchered the language. I already heard that the European one was the ” right” Portuguese. What the hell does that mean?! Nevertheless, what hurts me the most is not offences from the outside, but evil comments of Brazilians about their own language. People outside don’t have the obligation to know our history and understand our language, but Brazilians do! Once in a class discussion, I heard a classmate explaining that we do not add the s in the end of the verb conjugated by the second singular person when we speak and that this was “wrong”. To say “wrong” was so wrong that physically caused me pain. I could bet that this classmate thinks (as everybody in the world) that the French language is very elegant, classy and beautiful. Well, guess what, the same process happens in French. We also drop the s in the end of the conjugated verb in the spoken French. And no one, NO ONE, says that this is wrong. What happened in that classroom that day was a Brazilian talking about a rich part of the Brazilian culture, and as a Brazilian, he is not patriot at all. Too bad. This and other examples is what linguistics call ”Linguistic Prejudice”, and it happens inside the country. For starters, not even one single Brazilian speaks the way the grammar say we should, so why prioritize a certain way over the other? There are clearly differences between one part of the society more educated and rich and the other with less opportunities. We say “leixti”, instead of “leite”, but we criticize who says “menas” instead of “menos”, or “seje” instead of “seja”. Why? People don’t understand their own language and cannot see their own mistakes. I already heard that are the people that make the country, and I guess that’s true. Myself, I think differences are completely normal and we cannot run away from it. So, instead of fighting it, we should look at the bright side. All this particularities of our language is what makes us unique in the end. And more, everyone that I know that is learning or would like to learn Portuguese prefers the Brazilian accent and sounds way more than the European one – sorry guys. The musicality of our particular language is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I am also a non-patriot of my country. But I am trying to change this when is to defend something that I believe is good. And I think you should too.

Here is a fun video about the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese with an important message in the end:


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