Oì! Tudo bem?

Translation: “Hey! How’s it going?” Now you know a bit of Portuguese!

As an American student in France, many of you may be wondering why on earth I decided to learn Portuguese. Well, for one, practicality was never my middle name. Over the years, I have studied Spanish, French, Italian and now of course, Portuguese.  Simply put, I love languages. My interest in Brazilian Portuguese is a relatively new development, but one that has only intensified since I started studying it. It has been a particularly interesting journey because this is the first language I have studied that has been entirely self-taught (although…admittedly, I have had the help of some Brazilians along the way).

It all started with something like this:

Sounds quite nice, eh? After seeing an interview (or “entrevista”) like this one on youtube with the Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, I immediately became infatuated with the beautiful noises that were coming out of his mouth.  They intrigued me.  Beautiful man + beautiful language = killer combo. I then met some Brazilians and when I heard them speak their native language, my curiosity was fueled even more. This language sounded so different, so unique – almost like Italian with a nasal touch…but cooler and in my opinion, even prettier.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard before.

After some more youtube viewings, I finally decided that instead of watching videos like this and not having a clue what these people were saying, I wanted to understand. To learn it.  To speak it. So I went to the bookstore to look for some language books. To my disappointment, I found that there were very few Portuguese books for beginners. Let alone Brazilian Portuguese. Let me just clarify this now: Portuguese (from Portugal) and Brazilian Portuguese are pretty much two different languages.  I will get into that difference later, but for now, just know that they bear little similarity.  I have even heard of some Brazilians going to Portugal and actually not understanding the people there.  Crazy, huh?

Anyway, in my quest for language books, I found that while there was a wealth of material out there for Chinese, French, Spanish and Italian, there was very little on Portuguese.  And almost nothing on Portuguese for beginners. Why though? With about 240 million native speakers, Portuguese is the seventh most common language in the world. Beats French and German.  So why do most people choose to learn French instead of Portuguese? Is the French culture more appealing to people? The country itself?

In any case, I succeeded in buying several language books (one at the bookstore and two on my kindle) and in addition to studying Portuguese, I started to google more and more about this exotic land far, far away. Until eventually, my budding interest grew into a full-grown infatuation for not only the language, but  for the Brazilian culture, people and the country itself.  Want to know the funny part? I have never even been to Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro aka my dream destination

One day, hopefully in the near future, that will change.  Next year, I plan to move to Brazil for a little while. Until then, this blog will document and share my learning of Portuguese and my growing knowledge of anything and everything Brazilian (food, films, politics, you name it).  Hopefully I will eventually convert all of you, so that you too become Brazil-lovers and Portuguese-learners. Care to join for the ride?

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