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Portuguese dialects are the mutually intelligible variations of the Portuguese language in Portuguese-speaking countries and other areas holding some degree of cultural bond with the language. Portuguese has two standard forms of writing and numerous regional spoken variations, with often large phonological and lexical differences.

In Portugal, the language is regulated by the Sciences Academy of Lisbon, Class of Letters and its national dialect is called European Portuguese. This written variation is the one preferred by Portuguese ex-colonies in Africa and Asia, including Cabo Verde, Mozambique, Angola, Timor-Leste, Macau and Goa. The form of Portuguese used in Brazil is regulated by the Brazilian Academy of Letters and is known as Brazilian Portuguese.

Differences between European and Brazilian written forms of Portuguese occur in a similar way, and are often compared to, those of British English and American, though spelling divergencies were generally believed to occur with a little greater frequency in the two Portuguese written dialects until a new standard orthography came into full effect in the 2010s. Differences in syntax and word construction, not directly related to spelling, are also observed. Furthermore, there were attempts to unify the two written variations, the most recent of them being the Orthographic Agreement of 1990, which only began to take effect in the 2000s and is still under implementation in some countries. This and previous reforms faced criticism by people who say they are unnecessary or inefficient or even that they create more differences instead of reducing or eliminating them.

The differences between the various spoken Portuguese dialects are mostly in phonology, in the frequency of usage of certain grammatical forms, and especially in the distance between the formal and informal levels of speech. Lexical differences are numerous but largely confined to "peripheral" words, such as plants, animals, and other local items, with little impact in the core lexicon.

Dialectal deviations from the official grammar are relatively few. As a consequence, all Portuguese dialects are mutually intelligible although for some of the most extremely divergent pairs, the phonological changes may make it difficult for speakers to understand rapid speech.

Main subdivisions



European Portuguese dialects
  1. Dark green: North
  2. Light green: South
  3. Yellow: Azorean
  4. Orange: Madeirense

The dialects of Portugal can be divided into two major groups:

Within each of these regions, however, is further variation, especially in pronunciation. For example, in Lisbon and its vicinity, the diphthong ei is centralized to [ɐi̯] instead of being monophthongized, as in the south.

It is usually believed that the dialects of Brazil, Africa, and Asia are derived mostly from those of central and southern Portugal.



In the Portuguese town of Barrancos (on the border between Extremadura, Andalucia and Portugal), a dialect of Portuguese heavily influenced by Southern Spanish dialects, known as barranquenho is spoken by a small community of 1500 people.

South America

Main dialects within Brazil
· Nortista (Northern)
· Serra Amazônica (Highland)
Nordeste (Northeast):
· Central
· Costa Norte (North Coast)
· Recifense (Recife)
· Baiano
· Sertanejo
· Mineiro
· Caipira
· Fluminense
· Carioca (Rio de Janeiro)
· Sulista (Southern)
· Gaúcho
· Florianopolitan (Florianópolis) Metropolitan:
· Brasiliense (Brasília)
· Paulistano (São Paulo)

Brazilian dialects are divided into northern and southern groups, the northern dialects tending to slightly more open pre-stressed vowels. The dialects of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have had some influence on the rest of the country in Brazil due to their economic and cultural dominance in the country. However, migration from the Northern states to the Southern states cause the influence to be a two-way phenomenon. Cultural issues also play their roles. Speakers of the Gaúcho accent, for example, usually have strong feelings about their own way of speaking and are largely uninfluenced by the other accents. Also, people of inland cities of the three southern states usually speak with a very notable German, Italian or Polish accent, and among the inhabitants of the Santa Catarina Island (i.e. insular Florianópolis), the Azorean Portuguese dialect, in its local variant, predominates.

Between Brazilian Portuguese, particularly in its most informal varieties, and European Portuguese, there can be noticeable differences in grammar, aside from the differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. The most prominent ones concern the placement of clitic pronouns, and the use of subject pronouns as objects in the third person. Non-standard inflections are also common in colloquial Brazilian Portuguese.

Freddie speaking Brazilian Portuguese

Africa, Asia and Oceania


For historical reasons, the dialects of Africa are generally closer to those of Portugal than the Brazilian dialects, but in some aspects of their phonology, especially the pronunciation of unstressed vowels, they resemble Brazilian Portuguese more than European Portuguese. They have not been studied as exhaustively as European and Brazilian Portuguese.

Asian Portuguese dialects are similar to the African ones and so are generally close to those of Portugal. In Macau, the syllable onset rhotic /ʁ/ is pronounced as a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] or uvular trill [ʀ].

Notable features of some dialects


Many dialects have special characteristics. Most of the differences are seen in phonetics and phonology, and here are some of the more prominent:





Homophones in dialects


Mau and mal


Both mean bad, but mau is an adjective, mal an adverb. In most parts of Brazil, the l before consonants and ending words, which represents a velarized alveolar lateral approximant in differing dialects, became a labio-velar approximant, making both words homophones.

Júri and jure


While júri means jury, jure is the imperative and second subjunctive third singular form of jurar, "may he/she swear". In different contexts, unstressed /e/ often became a close front unrounded vowel, but in some Southern Brazilian dialects, /e/ never goes through the change.

Comprimento and cumprimento


Comprimento means "length", and cumprimento means "greeting". The same thing that happened with /e/ in the example of júri/jure happened to the letter /o/, such becomes a close back rounded vowel in some cases. Hispanic influence makes it never represent that sound in some Southern Brazilian.[clarification needed]

Asa and haja


Asa means "wing", and haja is the imperative and second subjunctive third singular form of haver, "may he/she exist". The words are usually distinguished, but in Alto Trás-os-Montes and for some East Timorese Portuguese speakers, they are homophones, both voiced palato-alveolar sibilants.

Boa and voa


Boa means "good" (feminine) and voa, "he/she/it flies". Unlike most of the West Iberian languages, Portuguese usually distinguishes between the voiced bilabial plosive and the voiced labiodental fricative, but the distinction used to be absent in the dialects of the northern half of Portugal, and in Uruguayan Portuguese. In these varieties, both are realized indistinctly as a voiced bilabial plosive or a voiced bilabial fricative, as in Spanish.

Más, mas and mais


Más means "bad ones" (feminine), mas means "but" and mais means "more" or "most". In Northeastern Brazil and the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, the vowels followed by coronal fricatives in the same syllable have a palatal approximant pronounced between both. The feature is very distinguishable since this combination appears in the plural forms.

and chá


means "shah", and chá means tea. At the beginning of words, ⟨x⟩ and ⟨ch⟩ are usually voiceless palato-alveolar fricatives, but ⟨ch⟩ is a voiceless palato-alveolar affricate in northern Portugal. The sound happens in other cases in Southeastern Brazil but disappeared in the rest of the Portuguese-speaking world.[citation needed]

Other differences


Terms for modern elements often differ between variations of Portuguese, sometimes even taking different genders. The following is a basic description of the PlayStation videogame console:

English The PlayStation is a video game console.
European Portuguese A PlayStation é uma consola de videojogos.
Brazilian Portuguese O PlayStation é um console de videogame.

In this sentence, not only is "PlayStation" feminine in one dialect and masculine in another (because "console" has different genders[4][5]), but the words for "console" and "videogame"[6][7] are adapted from English in Portugal (because "consola" is actually adapted from French, where the word "console" is feminine) but retained in their original form in Brazil, and "video game" in the phrase "video game console" is numbered in Portugal but singular in Brazil.

Mixed languages


Portuñol/Portunhol: In regions where Spanish and Portuguese coexist, various types of language contact have occurred, ranging from improvised code-switching between monolingual speakers of each language to more or less stable mixed languages.


This section does not cover Galician, which is treated as a separate language from Portuguese by Galician official institutions, or Fala. For a discussion of the controversy regarding the status of Galician with respect to Portuguese, see Reintegrationism.

Portunhol Riverense is spoken in the region between Uruguay and Brazil, particularly in the twin cities of Rivera and Santana do Livramento.

The language must not be confused with Portuñol, since it is not a mixing of Spanish and Portuguese, but a variety of Portuguese language developed in Uruguay back in the time of its first settlers. It has since received influence from Uruguayan Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

In academic circles, the Portuguese used by the northern population of Uruguay received the name "Dialectos Portugueses del Uruguay" (Uruguayan Portuguese Dialects). There's still no consensus if the language(s) is (are) a dialect or a creole, although the name given by linguists uses the term "dialect". There is also no consensus on how many varieties it has, with some studies indicating that there are at least two varieties, an urban one and a rural one, while others say there are six varieties, of which Riverense Portuñol is one.[8] This Portuguese spoken in Uruguay is also referred by its speakers, depending on the region that they live, as Bayano, Riverense, Fronterizo, Brasilero or simply Portuñol.

Mutual comprehension


The different dialects and accents do not block cross-understanding among the educated. Meanwhile, the basilects have diverged more. The unity of the language is reflected in the fact that early imported sound films were dubbed into one version for the entire Portuguese-speaking market. Currently, films not originally in Portuguese (usually Hollywood productions) are dubbed separately into two accents: one for Portugal and one for Brazil; the accent used for Portugal is also the one used for Portuguese-speaking Africa and Macau, and now even in East Timor, except using regionalisms. When dubbing an African character in cartoons and TV and film productions, Portuguese people usually mimic an Angolan accent, as it is also commonly seen as the African accent of Portuguese. The popularity of telenovelas and music familiarizes the speakers with other accents of Portuguese.

Prescription and a common cultural and literary tradition, among other factors, have contributed to the formation of a Standard Portuguese, which is the preferred form in formal settings, and is considered indispensable in academic and literary writing, the media, etc. This standard tends to disregard local grammatical, phonetic and lexical peculiarities, and draws certain extra features from the commonly acknowledged canon, preserving (for example) certain verb tenses considered "bookish" or archaic in most other dialects. Portuguese has two official written standards, (i) Brazilian Portuguese (used chiefly in Brazil) and (ii) European Portuguese (used in Portugal and Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe). The written standards slightly differ in spelling and vocabulary, and are legally regulated. Unlike the written language, however, there is no spoken-Portuguese official standard, but the European Portuguese reference pronunciation is the educated speech of Lisbon.

List of dialects

European Portuguese Latin American Portuguese African Portuguese Portuguese language in Asia and Oceania
European Portuguese Close WIL Brazilian Portuguese Contact dialects
  • Central-Southern
    • Alentejano
    • Algarvian
    • Baixo-Beirão, Alto-Alentejano
    • Estremenho
  • Northern
    • Alto-Minhoto
    • Beirão
    • Transmontano
  • Insular
    • Azorean
    • Madeiran

See also




According to researcher Felisberto Dias in the article Origens do Português Micaelense,[2] the dialects from Beira Baixa and Northern Portalegre (Northern Portalegre dialect is a variety of Beira Baixa dialect to south of Tagus river), Far Western Algarve, Madeira and São Miguel Island descend from the old dialect of Beira Baixa where in the 12th and 13th centuries there was some settlement by people that came mainly from Southern France (Occitan speakers) and also some from Northern France (Oïl languages speakers) that influenced the phonetics of the Galician-Portuguese dialect that was spoken in this region (very depopulated in the wars between Christians and Muslims). Some place names (toponyms) in Beira Baixa and Northern Alto-Alentejo like Proença-a-Velha, Proença-a-Nova (from Old Occitan name Proença - Provence), Ródão (from Rhodanus river), Fratel, Tolosa (from the Occitan name of Toulouse), Nisa (from Niça, Occitan name of Nice) testify a Southern France (Occitan) origin of those settlers. Those people came in the background of the Christian Reconquest (Reconquista) and Repopulation (Repovoamento) of frontier regions and were organized and helped by the military orders of the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller (ancestor of today's Order of Malta) among others. With the end of Christian Reconquest in Portugal (1249) speakers of this dialect came to settle in western Algarve. When, at the beginning of the 14th century, the Knights Templar were abolished, in Portugal they were replaced by the Order of Christ (Ordem de Cristo) and many of their members were the same the only difference being that it started to be a Portuguese Crown military order. Later, when Madeira and Azores were discovered, Order of Christ had an important role in the settlement of the islands. Gonçalo Velho Cabral (?-before 1500) was a knight of this military order, he was from Beira Baixa Province (Castelo Branco District) and had the lordship of several lands in Beira Baixa. He was appointed hereditary landowner responsible for administering Crown lands of São Miguel and Santa Maria islands and commissioned by Henry, the Navigator (1394-1460) (then Governor of the Order of Christ) to settle with people the then unpopulated islands. Many people that went to São Miguel Island came from the lands where he was lord and spoke the ancestor of the dialect of São Miguel island. Summing Felisberto Dias research, São Miguel island dialect (Micaelense) is the result of the settlement, in the 15th and 16th centuries, of people that were mainly from Beira Baixa and spoke a dialect that was a descendant from a Gallo-Romance phonetically influenced Galician-Portuguese dialect that formed in the Middle Ages (people from other regions of Portugal and outside of Portugal also went to settle but were assimilated by the majority). Contrary to a very diffused but wrong idea, São Miguel island dialect is not the result of any kind of 15th century French settlement in the island (from which there is no proof). The other islands in the Azores were largely populated by Portuguese from other regions. A small minority of Flemish were present in the initial settlement of Central Group islands of the Azores, mostly in Faial, and some also in Pico and São Jorge, but were rapidly surpassed in number and assimilated by the Portuguese settlers some decades after the initial settlement of the islands in the 15th century. Because of that, Flemish (southern dialect of Dutch) did not phonetically influenced the Portuguese dialects of these islands and on the contrary, Faial island dialect is close to the dialect that is the basis of standard Portuguese.


  1. ^ Zampaulo, André (19 Dec 2016). "Sibilant sound change in the history of Portuguese: An information-theoretic approach". Diachronica. 33 (4). John Benjamins Publishing Company: 507. doi:10.1075/dia.33.4.03zam. Retrieved 9 October 2022 – via
  2. ^ a b c Dias, Felisberto (2000). "Origens do Português Micaelense: Abordagem diacrónica do sistema vocálico". A Voz Popular: Estudos de Etnolinguística (in Portuguese). Cascais: Patrimonia. pp. 53–80.
  3. ^ Silva, David J. (2008). "The Persistence of Stereotyped Dialect Features among Portuguese-American Immigrants from São Miguel, Azores". Journal of Portuguese Linguistics. 7 (1): 3–21. doi:10.5334/jpl.133.
  4. ^ "console". Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  5. ^ "consola". Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  6. ^ "videojogo". Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2021-09-22. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  7. ^ "videogame". Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2021-09-22. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  8. ^ Carvalho, Ana Maria (2003). "Variation and Diffusion of Uruguayan Portuguese in a Bilingual Border Town" (PDF). In Cabeza, C.; Rodríguez Yáñez, X. P.; Lorenzo Suárez, A. (eds.). Comunidades e individuos bilingües: Actas do I Simposio Internacional sobre o Bilingüismo. Vigo: Universidade de Vigo. pp. 642–651. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2008-04-27.

Further reading