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Latin American Language


About the Spanish Language
Spoken primarily in Central and South America and in Spain --- and by a sizeable and fast-growing population of speakers in the U.S. --- Spanish is the first language of more than 350 million people, more than any other language except Mandarin Chinese.  It’s the official language of twenty-one countries and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.  Furthermore, Spanish is a common second language --- the most studied after English, and the third most commonly used on the Internet after English and Mandarin.
The difference between Castilian Spanish as spoken in Spain and Spanish as spoken in the Americas (now called Latin American Spanish) is due to the diminishing contact between Spain and the Americas over the centuries and to the influence of local languages in the Americas.  These two main variants of Spanish are mutually intelligible; the difference between them is comparable to that between British English and American English.

About the Portugues Language 

Portuguese is the eighth most spoken language and the third most spoken European language in the world (after English and Spanish) and, together with Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian, comprise the five modern Romance languages.

While the Portuguese language has its roots firmly in Europe, most of the world's 210+ million Portuguese speaking people live elsewhere. In fact, non European speakers of the language outnumber their European cousins by over twenty to one. Many are surprised to learn that there are more Portuguese speaking people in South America than those who speak Spanish. But this is understandable when one realizes that Brazil is larger than the continental United States and has the largest population of any country in South America. There are different regional dialects spoken in Brazil.

Because there are some similarities between Spanish and Portuguese–and both are a product of the Iberian peninsula–many erroneously believe that Portuguese is merely a dialect of Spanish. Nothing could be farther from the truth. 

Portuguese and Spanish are very similar languages

Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, as they are both Latin-based languages and share many grammatical structures and patterns. When I came to Brazil, I had already studied languages at university and spoke Spanish, and I found my knowledge of Spanish helped enormously. Very quickly, I was able to spot the similarities between the languages and create Portuguese words from my knowledge of Spanish, with, of course, a few embarrassing mistakes along the way.

Just one incident I can remember was when I was trying to write a cheque, and was unsure if the word quarto (‘four’) was spelled with a q or a c. I decided to check and asked in my best Portuguese, ‘Do you write the word quarto (four) with a q?’ At least, that is what I meant to say. Only when the shop assistant replied, smiling, ‘It’s better to use a pen’ did I realise that when you pronounce the letter q in Spanish, it means something very different in Portuguese. I had inadvertently ended up saying: ‘Do you write ‘four’ with your arse?’!

However, to say that if you speak Spanish, you’ll understand Portuguese, or the other way round, would be a misconception. The languages are not so similar as to make it easy for all Brazilians and their Spanish-speaking neighbours to understand each other easily.

Other languages 

 Dutch is the official language of SurinameEnglish is the official language of Guyana, although there are at least 12 other languages spoken in the country, including HindiArabic, and various indigenous languages. English is also spoken in the Falkland IslandsFrench is the official language of the French overseas department of French Guiana.



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