Languages of Brazil

Languages of Brazil

Talking about the languages of Brazil, the most spoken language is Portuguese, which is spoken by an estimated 204 million speakers, the largest that can be seen in any nation on earth.

Brazil is the largest of the Latin American nations and it presents an interesting mix of languages on offer. We shall be taking a look at all the languages that are still in existence in present-day Brazil.

Brazil is home to over 209 million people; it goes to show that only 5 million of the entire population does not speak Portuguese.

Map of South America and Brazil

The Immigrant Languages of Brazil

The fact that the majority of the people speak Portuguese in Brazil, does not Brazil a country that is completely dominated by the Portuguese language? There is space for immigrant languages in Brazil and they are still thriving there even to this present day.

So what are the immigrant languages of Brazil that you are going to find on the ground when you get to Brazil? Take a look at the list below:

  1. Catalan
  2. Dutch
  3. Japanese
  4.  Korean
  5.  North Levantine Spoken Arabic
  6.  Turoyo
  7.  Vlax Romani

There are other mainstream European languages that are spoken in Brazil. They include:

  1. German
  2.  Italian
  3.  Polish
  4.  Ukrainian

Let us take a look at the major individual languages of Brazil that you are going to find in existence today:

Portuguese Language

Portuguese language is spoken by 97.9% of the entire population of Brazil. The spread of Portuguese is as a result of the colonization of the country by the Portuguese in 1500.

The Portuguese language began its spread among the people and it has grown over the years to become the most dominant language in the country today. The Portuguese that is spoken in Brazil is different from what is spoken in Portugal.

Today, Portuguese is one of the top 10 influential languages in world.

German Language

German the second most popular language that is spoken in Brazil. Though the Italians are more in number than the Germans, they have found a way of holding strong to the heritage of the German language since its development in 1940 to date.

Two-thirds of the German children speak their native language at home as against the children of the Italians who took to learning Portuguese spoken in Brazil. The language is taught in some municipal schools in Brazil.

Read also: Languages of Germany to learn about the spoken languages in Germany.

There is a German tabloid published in São Paulo that has been in existence for the past fifty years. About 1.9% of the population speaks German.


The Indigenous Languages of Brazil

There are pockets of indigenous languages in Brazil which predates the colonization of Brazil by the Europeans. There are several of these languages that have been preserved and they are still very much in use today in Brazil.

Mention can be made of Ticuna, Kaingang, and Kaiwá Guarani which are still very much around today. There are about 1.9% speakers of the indigenous language in Brazil today.

The Indigenous Language of São Paulo

When you get to the immigrant districts in the city of São Paulo today, the native languages that are spoken there are Korean, Chinese and Japanese. A Japanese language newspaper has been in existence in this city since the year 1946.

You are going to find Japanese speakers as well in the cities of Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, and Amazonas. There are much smaller group of speakers in Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and other parts of Brazil.

Languages of Brazil - Christ the Redeemer

The Spanish Language In Brazil

The influence of Spanish in Brazil is evident because of the close proximity of the country to some Spanish speaking nations. There are similarities between the popular Portuguese spoken in Brazil and the Spanish language and this accounts for the reason why you find some Brazillians that are fluent in Spanish. 

Spanish language is however dwarfed by the popularity of the English language over Spanish as a second language.


English Language In Brazil

Among the languages of Brazil, English takes second place. English is a very popular language that is taught officially as the second language in schools in Brazil. Many Brazilians are showing interest in this language and they are enrolling in private schools which have further raised the bar on this language.

The proficiency of English is common only in the major cities in town.  Out of the estimated 5% of Brazilians that speak a second language in addition to their version of Portuguese, 3% of the number speaks English.


Italian Language In Brazil

Just like we mentioned in the case of immigrants from Germany who have retained the German language, Italian immigrants can also be found in Brazil and they are holding on to their indigenous Italian language.

As stated earlier, there is a subtle threat to this language in Brazil because Italian children do not speak the dialect when they return home unlike what is obtained with the Children of the Germans.

Read also: Languages of Italy to learn more about languages spoken in Italy.

The Italian children would rather mingle with the Portuguese language and they are more fluent in it as against their mother tongue.

RankLanguageSpeakers in % Population
1Portuguese97.9
2German1.9
3Indigenous languages0.2

Conclusion: Languages of Brazil

The above languages are the ones that you are going to see in Brazil today. Though they are a dominant Portuguese speaking nation, there are pockets of indigenous languages present there as listed above.

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