Located in southwestern Europe, Portugal has a population of over 10 million. Most of the population in the country comes of Portuguese descent, and others make up the minority communities. 

There are also certain ethnic groups in Portugal such as Iberians, Spaniards, and Italians. 

Let’s now find about details about the languages spoken in Portugal. 

The Official Language of Portugal: Portuguese

You may wonder: What language do they speak in Portugal? Well, Portuguese is the official and the commonly-used language spoken in Portugal. The English language follows Portuguese as the second most common language in the country. 

Today, around 240 million people speak Portuguese in the world. It’s the sixth most common language spoken in the world as well. Furthermore, UNESCO indicates that Portuguese can become an international communications language in the future. 

So, what about the features of this official language of Portuguese? Well, it’s an Indo-European language, first of all. Portuguese has ten different dialects in Portugal. They use the language in different areas from bureaucracy to daily communication. 

Difference Between Portuguese and Spanish

Can Spanish speakers understand Portuguese? This is is a very common question people ask while they want to learn Spanish. These two languages share a high percentage of their vocabulary. They also have origins in Latin. 

The written language is also similar between Portuguese and Spanish. In spoken language, however, there are certain differences. Usually, people spell Spanish words just as they are written. In Portuguese, however, they usually swallow vowels. Also, while there are 24 phonemes in Spanish, there are 37 in Portuguese. So, speakers of Portuguese are more likely to understand Spanish when they hear it for the first time. Still, each speaker of these two languages can understand around 50 percent of what they say to each other.

What are the Other Popular Languages in Portugal?

English, Spanish, French, and Mirandese are the other popular languages spoken in Portugal.

English as the Second Most Common Language in Portugal

Among the Portugal languages, English is the second most commonly spoken. Especially in tourist areas like Lisbon, there are more English speakers.  

English is also being taught in schools as a second language. So, young people are also familiar with English. Business people and professionals make up the majority percentage of English speakers in Portugal. 

Portuguese people are exposed to English through American movies and music as well. Most TV programs in Portugal also originate from the US. 

You can find signs in English in public transport, in the airport, and menus in English in cafes and restaurants as well.

Portugal’s close relationship with England also makes English a popular language in Portugal. 

Spanish and French Follow English

One of the languages spoken in Portugal is Spanish. Around 10 percent of the population speaks Spanish in Portugal. As noted above, it has similarities with the Portuguese language. The Portuguese and Spanish languages share 89% of their vocabulary. So, this enables the Portuguese speakers to understand Spanish more easily.

In the past, the French language was quite popular for a long time in Portugal. In time, it gave its way to English. Today, mostly the elder people speak French in Portugal. 

Mirandese

This is an Indo-European and Astur-Leonese language. Mirandese is spoken by around 15,000 people both as a first and second language. People speak Mirandese in the municipalities of Vimioso, Miranda do Douro and Mogaduro. It has three dialects, namely border, central, and Sendinesse Mirandese. 

Portuguese Sign Language

In Portugal, around 60,000 people are deaf and communicate in Portuguese sign language. This sign language is also a member of the Swedish Sign Language family.

In this article, we hope that you can find the answers to the “What language does Portugal speak?” question. If you like this, you can also like our Origins of Portuguese People article.

FAQ

What language is spoken in Portugal?

Portugal’s spoken language is Portuguese.

What is the main language in Portugal?

Portugal main language is Portuguese. The official language of Portugal is Portuguese as well.

How many languages are spoken in Portugal?

English, Spanish, French, and Mirandese are the most popular languages spoken in Portugal.

What’s the difference between Spanish and Portuguese?

The difference between Spanish and Portuguese is the pronunciation and the number of phonemes. Generally, people spell Spanish words exactly as they are written. But, in Portuguese, vowels are generally swallowed. In addition, whereas Spanish has 24 phonemes, Portuguese has 37.

Can Spanish speakers understand Portuguese?

Each speaker of the Spanish and Portuguese languages can understand around half of what the other says.

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