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Are You Dealing with Brazil or Portugal?

English to Portuguese Business Document Translation Services

Is your certified English to Portuguese translation headed to Brazil or to Portugal?

Answering that question is crucial. That’s because English to Portuguese document translation services aren’t one-size-fits-all. Everything may technically fall under the Portuguese umbrella, but the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese are big. If you don’t understand them, your Portuguese translation will never look right!

In fact, if you do a European Portuguese translation and send it to your contacts in Brazil, it will be considered a major insult (and vice-versa).

So, in order to make sure you always make the right impression, let’s go over the differences:

Created during the early days of Portugal, European Portuguese is the original version of the language. It’s one of the “romance” languages, so its “cousins” include Italian, Spanish, and French. Portuguese is also related to Japanese, too, thanks to Portugal extending its empire into Asia centuries ago. In fact, several Japanese words are inspired by Portuguese.

A European Portuguese translation needs to reflect the business culture in Portugal — traditional and conservative. You’ll need to make sure that your Portuguese translation is somewhat formal and, even more importantly, extremely polite.

You’ll also need to gear your Portuguese translation to one specific person, instead of an entire company. That’s because hierarchy plays a big role in Portuguese businesses. Whoever is in charge makes the decisions, without any input from the people below him. So, start the translation process out by figuring out exactly who you’re talking to.

The Brazilian business culture uses that same hierarchical structure. However, that’s about where the similarities between these two languages end.

Brazilians are much more informal than their Portuguese counterparts, so your translated documents can be a lot more conversational. However, Brazilians are very detailed. So, if you’re translating a contract, be sure to include every little thing that could possibly be involved. Otherwise, your Brazilian counterparts probably won’t sign it!

Doing a Brazilian Portuguese translation isn’t 100% different than a European Portuguese one, but the differences are big enough that you need to find a Brazilian Portuguese professional translator.

One of the biggest differences you’ll see between a Brazilian and a European Portuguese translation is in the vocabulary. Both languages borrow words from other cultures. However, the Brazilians tend to use the words more as-is, while the Europeans make their own unique changes.

For example, in Brazil, a computer mouse is called a “mouse”. But in Portugal, it’s called a “rato” (“rat”). That’s because the Europeans took the English word “mouse” and changed it to reflect the actual animal, instead of the computer gadget.

Why are there so many differences?

Because Brazil has, historically, been much more of a melting pot than Portugal. In the early days of Brazil, the Portuguese language was influenced by the African languages that the slaves spoke. Plus, a lot of Asian and Europeans immigrated to Brazil back in those days, and their words started to mesh with the Portuguese that was being spoken there. As a result, Brazilian Portuguese has more “ingredients” than its traditional counterpart.

So, what do you do if you’re dealing with business contacts from both countries?

Your best bet is to get a Portuguese document translation in both forms. That way, you won’t have to worry about offending anyone.

But keeping everyone happy isn’t the only reason to do two translations. Safety also plays a factor. After all, many of the industry-specific terms that are used in a technical translation are totally different from one country to the other. If your translation gets them wrong, it can be downright dangerous!

Bottom line — you owe it to your clients to get it right! Contact our Portuguese document translation service today for a free Portuguese to English translation quote, to hire a Portuguese deposition interpreter, or a Portuguese medical interpreter.