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Language limitations

We're going to set forth from Porto in September. We know a bit of Spanish but no Portuguese. We can read some Portuguese but the pronunciation is very different. Has anyone had problems because of a lack of the language??

And, I love this forum. Loaded with info..... Chris and June
 
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kstaylor

Member
Chris,

I'm starting from Porto in mid-April.

I do the opposite -- get by in Spanish-speaking countries on my Portuguese, and it works reasonably well, more than well-enough for travel and even the occasional real conversation. And I've seen plenty of people get by -- at a tourist level anyway -- using Spanish in Brazil.

I don't know if the Portuguese are as sensitive about this as the Brazilians, but when using Spanish in Brazil one should start by apologizing for the Spanish -- primarily to let the Brazilians know that you at least know that their language is Portuguese. Tourists do go there thinking Brazilians speak Spanish and Brazilians find this ignorance insulting. Brazilians have a saying that translates as "Spanish is just incorrectly spoken Portuguese."

From my previous trip to Portugal -- 30 years ago -- I expect it will take me 2-3 days to get used to the accent. And I had to scrape some rust off my Portuguese then as well, as it had been over a dozen years since I'd been in Brazil. Now it has been only a year and a half since my last trip to Brazil.

Boa viagem,
Kit
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palmah

Member
Past OR future Camino
2010
Cullen and I will begin the CF next month. SInce it is our first Camino, I usually don't have much to contribute. But...I took him to Portugal for vacation in 2008 and since Cullen speaks Spanish pretty fluently we told the Portuguese that although we did not speak their language we could communicate in Spanish or English. Surprising to us at the time, their preference was English. We got along very well. The people were lovely, the food was delicious (ah the black pig) and don't even get me started on the wine - wonderful!

Palma
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Just one little point while we're on this language topic. One of the reasons why the Portuguese so frequently speak English so well is because no television or TV is dubbed. All is in the original version. That's nice for the English speakers because so much of popular culture is in English, and it also means that weary pilgrims might enjoy a movie or two along the way in Portugal (unlike Spain where virtually everything is dubbed, except in special "original version" theaters). Of course if you wind up in a German movie with subtitles in Portuguese, you might not enjoy it so much.

Laurie
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Interesting. That may be right. It may well be that in these 30 years English has been progressively more taught in schools. Perhaps that's why their TV programme are as Laurie describes - or vice versa of course!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
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Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Portuagl is about the only European country that the British have never waged war on!! :)
 

sulu

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
a few since 2010
It may also be because Britain is the biggest importer of Port!
:)
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The story I've heard on the dubbing is that the Portuguese movie and tv industry, representing such a small market (and not wanting to use Brazilian Portuguese dubbings because of the huge differences between the two) did not have the financial resources to do the dubbing. So they just went with subtitles. And now it's well accepted and there appears to be no interest in changing the system.

I do know a lot of Portuguese people of many different ages who speak French in addition to English, but English is certainly the more popular and more commonly spoken. In fact, when I'm in Lisbon, I have to really fight to try to practice my portuguese. I now have a well practiced introduction in Portuguese that I use in banks, airports, train stations -- "I know you speak English well, but I would really like to practice my Portuguese, is that ok with you?" That inevitably produces a smile and a lot of goodwill, because the Portuguese people are not used to foreigners who try to speak their language. So a few phrases could go a long way in interpersonal relationships, I think.

Laurie
 
kstaylor said:
Do you think there's been a generational shift with respect to what second language the Portuguese learn? When I was there in 1980 it seemed that most who spoke another language spoke French.
it's not just schooling. I've seen estimates that 8% of Portuguese were working in France in the 1970s. That's an awful lot of people. Some of those have returned to Portugal (tho there's still a lot in France). Since Portugal joined the EU, there's been inward investment into Portugal, but as everywhere else the business language these days is English. So ambitious young Portuguese in the 60s/70s might think they should learn French, but these days French isn't much use.

I've also met Portuguese who were delighted to find I speak German - which they learnt whilst working there. And there seems to be an atavistic reluctance to admit they might be able to communicate in Spanish or, horror of horrors, that they might have anything in common with Spaniards - de Espanha nem bom vento nem bom casamento. (Tho I think that's directed more at Castilians than Galicians.)
 

kstaylor

Member
Peter Robins said:
it's not just schooling. I've seen estimates that 8% of Portuguese were working in France in the 1970s.

Quite a few of the Portuguese I met in 1980 had worked in France. Some, I recall, were currently working in France and were back in Portugal for vacation (it was August). On a day trip to Valenca, I was waiting for a return train (to Praia da Ancora) when an unscheduled train stopped. After being assured it would stop in Ancora, I boarded. The train had originated in Paris and was for Portuguese working in France to go home for vacation.

Kit
http://www.arovingvision.com
kst@arovingvision.com
 

pilgrimgal

New Member
I've been going to a Portuguese parish for around 18 years now, (there are English and Portuguese masses, and a wonderful priest ) and most of the parishoners who migrated 30-50 years ago also speak French. I haven't picked up much of the language except for the mass and prayers, so I'm hoping to get by with that on the camino this May (at least I know all the responses for mass, and can pray the rosary in numerous dialects :wink: ) . Doesn't sound like there's much problem if you know French and English in Portugal, but how about in Spain?
 
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mmonomm

Member
i just got back from the portuguese way- from Porto. 2 persons i met spoke a little bit of english, the rest of the people NOTHING. i knew just a few words in spanish, but everything went very well. people were very helpful, even if they understood i do not speak their language, with signs, hands, some words, i got along very well. of course, at the end of the camino i know more spanish :) so do not panic because of language limitations, the people there has open harts towards the pilgrims, and that's MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!!
 

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