Portuguese is a language spoken in the relatively small country on the western outreaches of the Iberian Peninsula. But that’s not all - it is spoken in plenty of other places too. Mainly in other places, to be honest: Although Portugal itself has just under 11 million citizens, there are over 190 million Portuguese speakers in Brazil – which makes it the most widely-spoken language in South America. Portuguese is also encountered in other southern countries on the African continent, such as Mozambique and Angola.
There’s one thing that anyone translating between Portuguese and German needs to keep in mind: There are different variations of Portuguese, and there are substantial differences in the dialects of the language spoken on the different continents. Sandra Robitsch, a qualified translator for Portuguese, Spanish and other languages, can only concur: “The regional versions of Portuguese are fundamentally different. This is evident in everyday words alone.” Portuguese people would use ‘apelido’ for ‘surname’, while Brazilians say ‘sobrenome’. ‘Empregado’ is a waiter in Portugal, but simply an employee in Brazil. Its’s not just the words that differ, explains the specialist translator: “There are also clear variations in spelling. In Portugal, the word for a metro – ‘o metro’ – does not have an accent , but its Brazilan equivalent – ‘o metrô’ – does.
The differences are in fact so substantial that they would never fit in a dictionary. Professional translators need profound knowledge and understanding to build linguistic bridges between the continents: “Each text must be adapted precisely to suit the region for which it is intended”, Robitsch explains. “In Brazil, for instance, some concepts such as maintenance grants or educational leave simply do not exist, and this is particularly true within the social system. A non-professional would probably be stumped quite quickly.”
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Whether it’s large companies with branches in Brazil or centers of tourism in Portugal: There is plenty of demand for professional translators – in an amazing variety of areas. Moreover, there is substantial need for translations of certificates and documents required by government agencies, for marriages and similar occasions. Then come the interpreting jobs for the numerous Brazilians living in Germany and Austria.
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Sandra Robitsch is a qualified translator for for Portuguese, Spanish and other languages, and has five years of professional experience under her belt.
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