Brazil Languages

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Description[edit | edit source]

Portuguese is the official and national language of Brazil[6] and is widely spoken by most of the population. The Portuguese dialects spoken in Brazil are collectively known as Brazilian Portuguese. The Brazilian Sign Language also has official status at the federal level. As of 2019, the population of Brazil speaks or signs approximately 228 languages, of which 217 are indigenous and 11 came with immigrants. [1]

Because of the importance of the Roman Catholic Church to Brazil’s history, you may find several other languages in Brazilian records. These include Latin, German, Italian, Polish, and other languages of European ethnic immigrants. Also, some records may be in Japanese.

Portuguese grammar may affect the way names appear in genealogical records. For help in understanding name variations, see Brazil Personal Names.

Many Amerindian minority languages are spoken throughout Brazil, mostly in Northern Brazil. See more details on Indigenous languages [2]

Word List(s)[edit | edit source]

Most materials used in Brazilian research are written in Portuguese, but you do not need to speak or read Portuguese to do research in Brazilian records. However, you will need to know some key words and phrases to understand the records.

For word list and help researching in Brazilian records, see:

Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

The Brazilian spelling of Portuguese is distinct from that of other Portuguese-speaking countries and is uniform across the country. With the implementation of the Orthographic Agreement of 1990, the orthographic norms of Brazil and Portugal have been largely unified, but still have some minor differences. Brazil enacted these changes in 2009 and Portugal enacted them in 2012. [3]

Brazilian Portuguese (spoken in Brazil) and European Portuguese (spoken in many countries in Europe, including Portugal) are the two main types. Read this article to better understand the key differences

To better understand the differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese (alphabet, pronunciation, etc.)

Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Wiki has genealogical word lists for Portuguese, German, Latin, Polish), and Spanish. There is also a Portuguese Letter-writing Guide to help write to Brazil.

The following books and English-Portuguese dictionaries can also aid you in your research. You can find these and similar material at many research libraries.

  • Ferreira, Júlio Albino. Dicionário Inglês- português, Português-inglês. Porto, Portugal: Edit. Domingos Barreira, 1979. FHL 469.321 F413d; film FHL 1181702 item 1
  • Vieyra, Anthony. Dictionary of Portuguese and English languages. London: 1827. FHL 1181694 item 5 The Family History Library has only part two, English- Portuguese.
  • Sue Tyson-Ward, Brazilian Portuguese, Blacklick, Ohio : McGraw-Hill, 2010 - Available at WorldCat
  • Yukiyoshi Kamimura, Marcia Monje de Castro, Branislava Vladisavljevic & Tasmin Waby, Brazilian Portuguese phrasebook & dictionary, Lonely Planet Publications, 2014 - Available at WorldCat

Additional language aids, including dictionaries of various dialects and time periods, are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog in the "Subjects" search for BRAZIL- LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES or PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE- DICTIONARIES.

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

Study and Teaching Aids

Reading Aids

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Languages of Brazil," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 March 2021.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Languages of Brazil," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 March 2021.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Languages of Brazil," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 March 2021.