Brazilian Portuguese and European Portugal Portuguese are extremely close languages. The differences between the two are similar to the variation between American English and British English. While these are basically the same language, there are acute differences between the version used in Brazil and the version used in Portugal.
Speech: The Primary Difference
There are obvious and distinct differences between Portugal Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese in terms of speech and pronunciation. As the two countries are in geographically separated areas, there are ways of pronouncing words that each group has developed accordingly. For instance, those who speak Brazilian Portuguese tend to accentuate ending vowel sounds. Conversely, in Portugal Portuguese, they tend to trail-off the ending vowel sounds. Brazilian Portuguese is characterized by open vowel sounds. Compared to these open noises, Portuguese from Portugal can sound more muffled. The formality of European Portuguese is very important to the language. For example, "voce" can be used in a wide variety of social situations in Brazil. While mostly informal, this way of referring to someone could also be accepted in a formal setting. In Portugal, however, "tu" is used only for casual settings and "voce" for formal settings. A Brazilian who incorrectly uses these terms in Portugal could find themselves being unintentionally offensive. These speech differences are derived from cultural diversity and pronunciation variations caused by accents.
Brazil and Portugal Grammar Differences
The word choices of Brazilians can sound "uncultured" to someone from Portugal as the words used are usually loose and at times awkward. Brazilians have little use for European Portuguese besides when it is used in books, radio, or television. Brazilians, being less tightly wound into formality, are more flexible with their words. Some nouns are used as verbs and some phrases condensed into one. For example, in European Portuguese, a congratulation is usually a phrase: “dar os parabéns.” However, in Brazilian Portuguese it is condensed into: “parabenizar." This condensing habit that Brazilians employ can be confusing due to the formality differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese. Strangely enough, often the converse is true and Portugal Portuguese is condensed. For example, “I am learning Portuguese” would be translated “Estou a aprender português” in Portugal. Notice that the verb “aprender” is not conjugated but is translated as learning because of the “a” in front of it. However, Brazilian Portuguese makes use of a conjugated ending to the verb: “Eu estou aprendendo português”.
Spelling: The Easy Part
Spelling is an entrancing subject when it comes to Portuguese. There are efforts in motion to make the Portuguese in Brazil and the Portuguese in Portugal more unified in terms of spelling. From this goal came The Orthographic Agreement. Orthography or spelling is a serious matter in both countries. In fact, spelling is ruled by law in both Brazil and Portugal. This provides obvious issues in the fact that these countries legally spell differently. To resolve this, an agreement between all Portuguese speaking countries was signed that went into effect in 2009. This agreement made countries acknowledge that both spellings of things are correct and unified spellings. Even with this in place, there are still differences. European Portuguese is resistant to change. Brazilian Portuguese, however, utilizes assimilation and does so in a very phonetical sense. This makes it obvious where the influence came from. Spelling differences are much easier to overcome with the agreement in place.
Brazilian Portuguese and European Portugal Portuguese spelling are almost one in the same. The acute differences that make each version unique is the cultural and historical stamp that each country provides. European Portuguese does tend to be more formal and rigid while Brazilian Portuguese is freer. Both versions are useful in consuming media from either country with the real difference being interpersonal communication.