World Portuguese Language Day (And 10 Trivia Tidbits To Go With It)

Today is World Portuguese Language Day! 

If you have no clue what that is, here’s what UNESCO has to say about it:

“The date of 5 May was officially established in 2009 by the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) – an intergovernmental organization that has been in official partnership with UNESCO since 2000, and which brings together peoples with the Portuguese language as one of the foundations of their specific identity – to celebrate the Portuguese language and Lusophone cultures. In 2019, the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference decided to proclaim 5 May of each year as “World Portuguese Language Day”.

The Portuguese language is not only one of the most widespread languages in the world, with more than 265 million speakers spread through all continents, but it is also the most widely spoken language in the southern hemisphere. Portuguese remains, today, a major language of international communication and a language with a strong geographical projection, destined to increase.”

Today let us celebrate the Portuguese language, often referred to as “the language of Camões“: from its history and influence to its unique linguistic features and quirks. As one of the world’s most melodious languages (Ok, I’m a suspect, I know), Portuguese holds an abundance of interesting trivia.

Portuguese poet and playwright Luís de Camões

Portuguese is a language which, I believe, is loved and feared in equal measure. But how many people actually *know* the Portuguese language?

Let’s dive into the world of Portuguese with these 10 trivia tidbits:

  1. Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, with over 260 million native speakers.
  2. It is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor.
  3. The Portuguese language evolved from Latin, like many other Romance languages, and has been influenced by Arabic, African languages, and indigenous languages of the Americas.
  4. The oldest written document in Portuguese, known as the “Testament of Dom Afonso II,” dates back to 1214.
  5. Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese have some differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. For example, in Brazil, they say ônibus for bus, while in Portugal, we say autocarro.
  6. Portuguese is the only language in South America that is spoken in only one country as its official language, which is Brazil.
  7. The Lusitanians, a Celtic tribe that lived in a big part of modern-day Portugal, spoke the Lusitanian, a language that is not well documented. There are a few words in Portuguese that are assumed to have a Lusitanian origin, but there’s a lot of speculation about them.
  8. The influence of Celtic languages on modern-day Portuguese is limited, as Celtic tribes in the Iberian Peninsula, including the Lusitanians, were eventually assimilated by the Romans and other cultures. However, some Portuguese words are believed to have Celtic origins, like choupana (small hut), cerveja (beer), and carvalho (oak).
  9. Besides Latin, Arabic was also another big influence on the Portuguese language. This influence can be traced back to the period of Arab rule in the Iberian Peninsula. Some examples of Portuguese words with Arabic origins include almofada (cushion/pillow), almofariz (mortar and pestle), and Alfama (a neighbourhood that still exists in Lisbon; Alfama derives from al-hamma, meaning hot water fountain). Note the al- prefix, which stands for the definite article o/a (the).
  10. The longest non-technical word in the Portuguese language, with 29 letters in total is anticonstitucionalíssimamente, which means “in a very unconstitutional way”. 

I hope you found these facts interesting! Did you know about any of them?



  1. A friend once asked if I could tell the difference between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese. Piece of cake, I said; if I understand anything, it’s Brazilian.

    * LIstening to Scolari helped 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.