What Languages do People Speak in Brazil?
While the vast majority of people in Brazil speak Portuguese, this large South American country is linguistically diverse with hundreds of spoken languages including indigenous languages, immigrant languages, and unique regional dialects.
How Many Languages Are Spoken in Brazil?
There are about 228 languages spoken in Brazil. This includes Portuguese and 11 other foreign or immigrant languages and 217 indigenous languages. Portuguese is the most widely spoken language.
Official Languages of Brazil
The official language of Brazil is Portuguese and it's also the most widely spoken language in the country. The dialect of Portuguese spoken in Brazil is called Brazilian Portuguese. About 99% of people in Brazil speak Portuguese.
Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas but it differs from European Portuguese as it's been influenced by German and Italian in the South and the country's indigenous languages.
Portuguese came to dominate Brazil when the Portuguese arrived in 1500. At the time, there were 6 million indigenous people speaking about 1,000 languages. Amerindian languages gradually disappeared when their speakers were decimated or integrated.
Many cities have adopted official languages in addition to Brazil, usually in response to large immigrant or indigenous populations. For example, German has co-official status in Santa Maria de Jetibá and Pomerode. Talian is an official language in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.
Other Languages of Brazil
Brazil is home to many minority and indigenous languages.
There are 217 reported indigenous languages spoken in Brazil. Most of these languages are spoken in Northern Brazil. Today, there are only about 10,000 to 40,000 native speakers of these languages combined.
Nheengatu was the common language for many indigenous people of Brazil as well as Africans, Europeans, and African-descendant peoples along the coast. It was spoken by most people in the area until the late 1800s. It's recently experienced a resurgence in popularity.
Indigenous languages also spoken in Brazil include: Kaingang, a Gê language spoken by the Kaingang nation which has 30,000 people. Only about 60% of Kaingang people speak Kaingang. Ticuna, spoken by about 50,000 people in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru and the native language of the Ticuna. Kaiwá Guarani, a Guarani language spoken by 18,000 Kaiwá people in Brazil in Mato Grosso do Sul state. Tenetehára, a Tupi–Guarani that combines two languages that are mutually intelligible. Guajajára Macushi, the largest of the Cariban languages and spoken by about 30,000 people in Guyana and Brazil. Terena, an Arawakan language spoken by around 15,000 Brazilians in Mato Grosso do Sul state. Xavante, a Jê language spoken in Eastern Mato Grosso by around 9,600 Xavante people. Tucano, a language spoken by about 4,500 people in Brazil. Mawé, a Tucano language spoken by about 7,000 people.
Brazil has a large number of people who speak two or more languages. The most common immigrant languages in Brazil are: German. The Brazilian German dialect is spoken by 3 million people. About 2% of Brazilians speak German. In the small city of Presidente Lucena, Brazil, 90% of residents speak Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, a Brazilian version of the Hunsrückisch German dialect. Italian Brazilian Venetian (Talian) is spoken by 1 million people. This is a Brazilian Italian dialect based on the Venetian language. Polish Ukrainian Vlax Romani Arabic Korean Catalan Dutch Japanese. Brazil is home to one of the largest Japanese populations outside of Japan.
English is the most frequently studied and spoken foreign language in Brazil followed by Spanish. In the 1940s, German was the most widely used second language in Brazil thanks to a large influx of German immigrants.