Como Que Você Fala Português?

By 18:07

Usually after people ask me why I'm in Brazil, and after my 30-second platform speech, they go...


"Pera aí... mas como que você fala português tão bem?!" (Wait a minute, how do you speak Portuguese so well?) - and here in São Paulo, this is usually followed by some sort of emphasis on my accent from Minas as well.

I'll let you guess...

a. Duh? My parents are Brazilian? I learned at home silly.
b. A bunch of my friends growing up are Brazilian and we only ever spoke Portuguese.
c. I took Portguese classes at my local Portuguese/Brazilian church.
d. I lived in Little Brazil and/or Minas Gerais in the U.S.
e. All of the above.

There's no one correct answer, and this is a trick question because it's not "all of the above" either. My take is that it's all of the above except answer "C." I'm not trying to toot my own horn here and say I'm so smart and never needed classes, because that would be a lie. That I did learn to read and write in Portuguese on my own, is true - and you will realize this once you see me writing in the language! It's not by any means bad, but it's not perfect either. My luck is that grammatically, Portuguese is a relatively difficult language, especially Brazilian Portuguese.

As for what did influence my acquisition of Portuguese, my parents have always and still do, only speak Portuguese to myself and my brother. My mother, I sometimes feel, has disallowed herself to learn English so we could acquire and maintain our native tongue fluently. My father is a lifetime self learner and perfectionist. His knowledge of any language is no exception, especially with Portuguese. He would always play the, "Do you know what such and such means?" at the most inconvenient times, and when I'd mumble, "Sim Pai, sei...", he would follow with, "Oh yeah? So what does it mean?" So my parents were the biggest factor, I think. What also helped was having Brazilian friends and boyfriends who didn't speak much English - because I did, after all, live in CT's very own Little MG; so the only way I could communicate with them was through Portuguese! And let's not forget that most of my family is here in Brazil, so it would be a lack of respect to not be able to communicate with them, no?!

Overall, I am very blessed that I was able to learn and maintain the language so well, and I have only been learning more and more being here in Brazil. I haven't taken any classes yet, but do plan on taking a writing course sooner than later so I can perfect it because I'm sick and tired of making stupid mistakes when I write (but I must admit, I have a great support system with this here too, at home, work, and even socially!). I take after my father in this sense of self-learning and linguistic o.c.d. *sigh.

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