There was an interesting post in my Tá Falado this week that I wanted to share. Bob wrote:
I am a former teacher of German and French, and I speak Spanish fairly well. I have just started to learn Portuguese (in preparation for a trip to Brazil). The problem is that I am 65 years old and don’t have the patience for this sort of project I once had. In short, I simply want to apply my Spanish pronunciation rules, i.e. tres and not tresh, ele and not eli, and so on. Will this seriously hinder my communication?
I think what I loved so much about this comment was the practicality of it. I assume that Bob is a native speaker of English and he already speaks German, French, and Spanish. He is 65 years old and he just wants to be able to get by with his Portuguese while he spends time in Brazil. There is a “perfectionist” in him that feels bad about not striving to learn perfect Portuguese, but then at 65 he recognizes that maybe that is OK.
I immediately envisioned a 65 year old man going to Rio for the first time, trying out the foods, seeing the sites, buying a few gifts, enjoying sunrises and sunsets, listening to samba, bossa nova, and having that satisfying feeling of experiencing a new place for the first time.
So, to answer Bob’s question, no, there will be no problem when you try to speak some Portuguese with a bit of a Spanish accent. The Brazilians will appreciate your effort and they will love talking to you. To be sure, your ability to converse would be enhanced by your understanding of Brazilian Portuguese. But the bottom line will be some delightful hours while sitting with new friends, munching on pão de queijo and drinking a cold one (Chopp for you, fruit juice for me). And for anyone else out there, Bob’s example is wonderful, don’t let the need for perfection in a foreign language get in the way of your enjoyment of the experience along the way. Boa viagem Bob!