between European and Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian and European Portuguese are
very far apart—from spelling to the use of verb tenses and terminology.
In many situations, the use of European Portuguese is unacceptable to
Brazilians, and vice-versa. The choice of words can be completely different
and sometimes "laughable." This is specially true when it
comes to technical texts, where even the choices of "imported"
words are different.
A Brazilian person can read a book or
hear an interview on the radio—but that is the extent of the use of
European Portuguese in Brazil. In Portugal, Brazilian Portuguese would
carry a lot of "mistakes" and awkward word choices and may
often be considered an uncultured variation of the European form.
If we are talking about a couple of lines
in a packaging (contents, or regulatory info), you could probably use
one translation—but you should remember that regulations vary from country
to country. If your product is targeted to a specific market niche or
widespread use, you should have two translations. Another fact to consider
is national pride, that is, the response of a consumer to a product
that is obviously not directed to him/her.
The good news is that in most subject
matters you can have a text translated for one target country and then
edited (localized/adapted) for another. The bad news is that this is
not a very cost efficient solution; Brazilian and Portuguese translators
would rather translate "from scratch" than edit a text translated
for another market, since the changes are usually very extensive, and
the time required for the task might be longer than the time required
to do a normal editing.
The relevance of the difference between
the two forms of Portuguese doesn't apply to all situations. José Saramago,
for instance, is considered a great writer in any of the Portuguese
speaking countries (there are eight: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau,
Mozambique, Portugal, S. Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor). The more
formal the language, the easier to understand it in another Portuguese
speaking country; but make no mistake, there is NO such thing as standard
The Orthographic Agreement
Spelling (Orthography) in Brazil and
in Portugal is ruled by law, and the Brazilian and Portuguese spellings
are different. Portuguese speaking countries signed an orthographic
agreement that was supposed to be in place (kicks in January 1st.,
2009 in Brazil). More than unifying spellings, the agreement is oriented
to accept one
spelling as correct. The
agreement will not impact translations in the sense that a translation
directed to Brazil will
still not be recommended to be used in Portugal, and vice-versa.
The agreement (in Portuguese) can be found here. Lyris'
comment about it summarize very well the question.
Orthographic Agreement will kick in
January 1st, 2009 in Brazil. There will be a transition period when
both, the new and the old orthography will be accepted. This period
January 1st. 2009 and ends December 31st, 2012.
This FAQ contains some articles dealing
with the subject. Lyris Wiedemann wrote a very good article about this
issue. The article was published in The ATA Chronicle (August, 1988)
and can be found in the next
question of this FAQ section.
For information about the size of the
Brazilian and Portuguese economies, population, and trade with North
America, please click