Did you know that even in a country as small as Portugal, not everyone speaks the same way?
There are a few different accents and even different words between the north, the south and the islands! This is what we’re going to talk about today!
Let’s start with the Lisbon region, the capital of Portugal. As such, the speech of Lisbon is considered the Portuguese standard, because it is the one that has popularity inside and outside the country.
For example, what you can see on television, as certainly that way of speaking. Sometimes, this makes the accent from the north, south and islands less reliable.
We can see Porto like the second capital of Portugal. But about the language, there are some differences from Lisbon.
The most remarkable trait is that they don’t differentiate the consonants [v] and [b]. For them, is almost always [b] in every situation. For example: the word “viver” (live) is the same, but north people say it like “biber”.
Other thing that we can notice is that on the north, they open the vowels and, on the center and south, they don’t. For example, the word “amanhã” (tomorrow) turns in “ámanhá”.
People from Porto and from the north region are known for the way they speak. Sometimes because they have different words and expressions and because they use slang words more often. Although none of them are said in a bad way.
Alentejo occupies a large area in the south of Portugal and the language has some their own particularities as well.
First, they prefer the use of gerundive, (like in Brazilian Portuguese), rather than “estar a + infinitive” that is used throughout the country. So instead of “estou a aprender” they say “estou aprendendo”, for example.
Second, they tend to finish verbs in the infinitive in “i”. For example, the verbs “fazer” (to do/make), “comer” (to eat) and “saber” (to know) are read as “Fazêri”, “Comêri” and “fazêri”.
They also usually don´t do diphthongs. For example, the word “dinheiro” (money) changes to “dinhêro” as the the two words “não sei” (I don´t know) change to “nâ sê”.
Finally, they normally prefer to say the expression “a gente” instead of the word “nós” (we), unlike the rest of the country. The meaning is exactly the same. You can say: “A gente vai estudar” or “nós vamos estudar” (we are going to study).
In addition, their pronunciation looks like more slow and calm than the rest of the country.
The Azores or the islands, in general, are more difficult to understand, comparing to the Portuguese mainland. But the island of São Miguel is the one that causes the fame, because the strongest accent is from there.
Even for a Portuguese person, sometimes it’s not so easy to understand them at first. But after one minute of conversation, we get them! For a foreigner, probably will be more difficult, but nothing impossible at all.
On the islands, they speak a little bit faster and always at the same tone, which make it difficult to understand. They use to omit the last letter from almost all words and the same for the vowels. For example, in the sentence “Eu vou lá fora” (I’ll go outside) they could say “êvôláfour”.
They also speak with an accent that looks a little mix between Portugal and French. That’s because the islands have a lot of French influences.
About the Language
After distinguishing the different regions of Portugal, it’s important for you to know that those differences aren’t obvious in most of the cases. Between Portuguese people is more remarkable, but probably some of the things we point out will sound alike to many foreigners. This is perfectly normal, because a native always has more sensibility to his own language, than non-natives speakers.
There are still those words or expressions that have the same meaning through different words. Some of these terms can confuse a Portuguese speaker in some conversation. To help you understand, check out phrases with a few different words for the same meaning (in this case, between North and the center or south):
“What noise is this?”
Lisboa: Que barulho é este?
Porto: Que basqueiro é este?
“I’m soo confused.”
Lisboa: Estou tão confuso.
Porto: Estou tão abananado.
“What a huge line! So many people!”
Lisboa: Que fila enorme! Tanta gente!
Porto: Que bicha enorme! Tanta gente!
In this article we did a generalization: we’ve focused in the extreme cases. Generalizations are not fair and in the most of cases we have intermediate cases. In other words, we can find people with small traits of some accent. Nevertheless, the only goal of this generalization was not to stereotype, but to differentiate clearer.
Also, it’s important to remember that the Portuguese language is just one, what means that the differences we present here are most of them typical from informal situations. It’s not an issue for us, neither for you!
Finally, if you want to get in touch with us in Caldas da Rainha or Matosinhos