Ranked as the 6th most natively spoken language in the world, Portuguese is spoken by 260 million people worldwide and is the fastest-growing European language after English. It is widely spoken in four continents: Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia.
Portuguese is the official language of nine countries; Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. It is also spoken in Goa (India), Macao, and East Timor.
It is a country that is steeped in history with facts such as having a colonial empire that spanned 600 years, being the world’s first place of maritime power and the birthplace of some of the world’s first explorers.
- Portugal has the world’s oldest bookshop; The Livraria Bertrand (Bertrand Bookshop) in Lisbon which was set up on Rua Garrett in 1773, where it still stands. There are around 50 branches of Livraria Bertrand throughout Portugal.
- Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world.
- Portugal’s most famous export and its national drink is Port.
- Portuguese has influenced English and other Western languages. Words originating from the Portuguese exploration and used nowadays in English include flamingo, cobra and piranha.
- Until recently, the letters k, y and w were absent from the Portuguese alphabet. Owing to the strong influence of English, they have been added to write foreign names.
Portugal is ranked 25th in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report and for those looking to export into the country, some of the benefits are that English is widely spoken and accepted as a business language, it has the same time zone as the UK and is an early adopter of new technologies.
After a difficult financial period between 2010 and 2014, there was huge privatisation of contracts for power utility, the national grid, airports authorities, mail services, the Viana do Castelo shipyard and others which in turn led to significant investment into railways, ports, roads and airports to offer opportunities for suppliers in the ports and other sectors.
UK companies exporting to Portugal should consider the method of payment when negotiating contracts because many Portuguese companies work on 90 to 120-day payment terms. This number can be longer for state or public administration payments.
Portugal remains a largely homogeneous country with a predominantly Roman Catholic population, boasting many long-standing customs and traditions. The Portuguese are typically gentle, friendly and modest people who appreciate visitors making the effort to learn a few simple words or phrases.
They are a rather conservative and reserved nation, where over exuberant behaviour or too many hand gestures can be seen as rude, and greetings should be formal until you get to know someone a little better. They appreciate good time keeping from others regardless of whether it is a business appointment or meeting for dinner, however, they may arrive late themselves, but it is important not to show your annoyance.
During discussions or small talk, avoid comparing Portugal to Spain or assuming similarities between the two countries. Despite their close geographical proximity to one another, the two countries are quite distinct. Be particularly aware of their differences regarding language; a Portuguese person does not necessarily understand Spanish and vice versa.
Business tip: Whilst many Portuguese people, particularly the younger and more modern generations, speak English, it is always a good idea to have all business documents professionally translated into Portuguese and to have an interpreter present at all meetings.
Here are some basic greetings and phrases to familiarise yourself with:
|Good morning||Bom dia|
|I’m pleased to meet you||Muito prazer em conhecê-l|
|Excuse me||Com licença!|
|Have a nice day||Tem um bom dia!|
We have translated extensively into Portuguese in the health & wellbeing sector for clients such as Young Living and dōTERRA, as well as working in the automotive industry for clients such as Armored Auto. Types of content that we have translated include websites, product specifications, marketing material, newsletters, product catalogues and product labelling.
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