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Learning Spanish or Portuguese


Delima
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I have decided to learn a new language, specifically one of Spanish or Portuguese.

 

The reason of learning a new language at this old age of mine is to hope for a future job opportunity in South America. The company I am working for is an engineering firm and it is likely that in 5-10 years time we will establish a new base in South America. Currently the management favours Brazil.

 

I don't know whether I will still be in this company in 5 years time. But for sure I want to go to work and live in South America.

 

Should I learn Portuguese, or should I learn Spanish?

 

Reasons for learning Spanish:

 

1. Brazil is the only country in South America to speak Portuguese officially. The rest of South America speak Spanish in general. If I want to explore the different countries, which I fully intend to, Spanish is a great asset.

 

2. I have attended classes on Spanish before so I have an extremely basic grasp of Spanish language, and more familiar with it. I strongly believe that should I pay more attention and hard works I would be able to speak Spanish rather fluently in 5 years time.

 

3. Spanish is a lot more widely spoken and recognised globally. So learning Spanish will not only give me an advantage in South America, I can also feel at home in central America and Spain.

 

Reasons for learning Portuguese:

 

1. Brazil is the single most important/influential country in South America. Brazil is a lot more populated than neighbouring country. Brazil is an economic powerhouse. There are many global companies having branches / bases in Brazil.

 

2. English is the universal language and is one language I read / write / speak on an acceptable level. English may be just enough for me to explore the many different parts of South America. I have been to many non-English speaking countries (Turkey most recently) and I generally can get by with basic English, hand gestures and smiles. Whereas in Brazil, if one is to have a serious career in Brazil (where there are more serious job opportunities) he cannot ignore Portuguese.

 

3. Portuguese is also understood in certain African countries and East Timor.

 

Portuguese or Spanish? On the balance of it I am inclined towards learning Portuguese but I would most certainly appreciate all your comments and opinions sincerely.

 

Many thanks in advance.

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Guest Heneage

Tbh mate I'd go Spanish, I had a Mexican and Brazilian friend who quite happily chatted in each others native tongue and understood each other.

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Guest Sniffer

There's also lots of different types of spanish spoken as well in which similar words have a different meaning. For example saying in mexican spanish " I've put the cat out for the night " might mean " I'v just shagged your grandmother and her two next door neighbours " to a cuban.

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I'd go with Spanish. It's a more accessible language, is predicted to be the world 2nd most widely spoken language by 2015 or so and is an easier language to learn - something that become more of an issue the older you get.

 

Once you have a good grasp of Spanish, Portuguese shouldn't be that hard to pick up either way.. I didn't have any troubles talking to Portuguese people in Spanish.. like James said, it is considered offensive but if you tell them that you can't speak Portuguese but a bit of Spanish they tend to be ok with that. It's all about making an effort.

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Portuguese speakers definitely don't like it when someone just assumes they understand Spanish.

 

I'm sure they like it more than someone assuming they understand English, no?

 

Speak to them in Spanish, and it's a case of a Portuguese thinking that you are assumming that they are someone they're not. They actually prefer to watch English language media with Portuguese subtitles than import Spanish dubbing.

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So Ozzies what's your recommendations? You have got good life experiences, you have been to many places and work in different countries. Most importantly I generally agree with your points so would really appreciate your opinions.

 

What would you do if you were me? And Why?

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Portuguese speakers definitely don't like it when someone just assumes they understand Spanish.

 

I'm sure they like it more than someone assuming they understand English, no?

 

I dunno. Maybe. I lived in Lisbon for a while, barely speaking any Portuguese at all. While there, I had an English mate who'd learned his Portuguese in Rio. People would often be really unfriendly to him, speaking his Brazilian Portuguese -- much more different from Portuguese Portuguese than American English is from British English. Whereas in similar situations they'd be nice to me, mixing my utterly crap Portuguese with English and lots of pointing and smiling. But there's a level on which they were just being friendly to this poor retarded foreigner. It wouldn't work like that at all if you were trying to deal with people in an employment situation. My mate could work in a Portuguese situation; I couldn't.

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So Ozzies what's your recommendations? You have got good life experiences, you have been to many places and work in different countries. Most importantly I generally agree with your points so would really appreciate your opinions.

 

What would you do if you were me? And Why?

 

Hmm. Spanish is more generally useful. But if I was going to go to one country in Latin America, it would be Brazil, where you wouldn't get by very well using Spanish.

 

I don't speak either language, but this I know: They are so similar in every respect (except pronounciation), that if you learn one of these languages, then it's not that difficult to learn the other one later.

 

I'd decide which place you're the most interested in, and then learn the language they use there.

 

PS They do speak Portuguese in various African countries, but you're unlikely ever to want to go to any Portuguese-speaking country other than Brazil and Portugal.

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Portuguese speakers definitely don't like it when someone just assumes they understand Spanish.

 

Bit of a generalisation there.

 

In my exerience, if you ask them politely if they speak spanish first they have no problem with it.

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Portuguese speakers definitely don't like it when someone just assumes they understand Spanish.

 

Bit of a generalisation there.

 

In my exerience, if you ask them politely if they speak spanish first they have no problem with it.

 

Then you're not "just assuming", are you?

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Might sound a bit daft like but..............dare I say it....................knuckle down and learn both?

 

Problem solved.

 

Exactly!! Start off with Spanish I'd say, as it's easier. Then once you have a good grasp of that you will learn Portuguese in no time. I have a friend who moved to Brazil about 9 months ago, and he's nearly fluent already.

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Of course, but you were backing up James's post which suggests that they'll be offended no matter what -- in my experience that isn't really the case.

 

Gawd, don't go all NE5 on me. I said what I said and chose my words carefully. Of course they don't get offended "no matter what", but many don't like an automatic assumption that they will understand the "bigger" language from next door. The Dutch can a bit the same if you try speaking to them in German. They know what you're saying but they don't like it, as if it implies that their language is an inferior version of the other one.

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