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Lesson 1: Getting Started

Page 12 of 12 previous       vocabularies section

Culture: Why is Portuguese important?

You were probably surprised when you found out that Brasil has more citizens than all other South American nations together. Altogether, Portuguese is spoken by about 200 million people worldwide, where the biggest part of the chunk here goes of course to Brasil (ca 180 million Portuguese speaking people). Since Brazil is one of the United States' "neighbors to the south," we rightfully should be interested in our relations with this country. Therefore, a complete understanding not only of the Portuguese language, but also of the social and cultural traditions of this great nation.
Brasilians are usually not too happy about the fact that many tourists start talking to them in Spanish. Yet, Brasilians are often familiar with Spanish due to the enormous similarities between these two languages.


Statue of the Portuguese poet and explorer Luis Vas de Camões.
But maybe you also want to learn Portuguese for its rich literary traditions. Of course we have to mention here Portugal's probably most famous and also most tragic poet Luis Vas de Camões (1524-1580), who in his young years lost an eye in the war in Morocco. Later, he traveled to Macao in China, where he met his lover, who eventually died drowning right in front of him. Camões wrote countless Sonnets and other songs and poems. Also very famous are the melancholic remembrances of his mistress Ti-Na-Men.



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