Students may also take Portuguese within the department of Hispanic and Latin American Studies. Portuguese is the language of Brazil, the largest and most economically powerful nation in South America. In fact, there are more Portuguese speakers in South America than Spanish speakers. It is also the language of Portugal, five African nations, and numerous other enclaves in Asia and North America. Portuguese is spoken by more people around the world than German, Russian, French, Italian, or Japanese. Students of Spanish and Latin American studies are encouraged to study Portuguese in order to acquire valuable, complementary skills and to develop a more complete view of both Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.
Meet our Assistant Professor of Portuguese, Brazilian literature and culture, and Latin American studies!
A word from Ernesto
If there is something that accurately defines the Brazilian soul, it is music. It is not difficult to mention numerous gifted Brazilian musicians, composers, and singers (e.g.,. Heitor Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha, João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Vinicíus de Morais, Caetano Veloso, Elis Regina, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, etc), all of whom have significantly enriched the global panorama of music. And Brazil has also been the birthplace for a wide variety of rhythms that have emerged in the country since the early 17th century (i.e. bossa nova, samba, forró, maxixe, choro, maracatu, pagode, axé, frevo, xote, amon many others).
Nevertheless, in Brazil, music is not restricted to the musical notes and scores, or the different pitches that comprise a song. Music is everywhere. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that Brazilian Portuguese is music itself. This is illustrated by the melodic quality that animates words such as “borboleta”, “jabuticaba”, or “berenguendém.” The musicality of this language is one reason I became passionate about learning and teaching Brazilian Portuguese.
During my life-changing experience of living in Brazil, I realized that beyond the meaning conveyed by musical words like “borboleta” –a butterfly–, “jabuticaba” –a Brazilian grape-like fruit –, and “berendenguém” –a Brazilian piece of jewelry–, there was another dimension that made these words so special. Through their particular rhythm, intonation and sound, these words themselves reflect the historical trajectory of the Brazilian people. I came to understand that Brazilian Portuguese is a vivid and ongoing melody composed by all of the very different peoples and legacies that have been meeting throughout history in the continental-size country that is Brazil.
I want to extend an invitation to all of you to come and be a part of this fantastic language community! Come and join us to celebrate and learn about the diversity, challenges, and struggles of a society that is destined to play a decisive role in the 21st century world scenario because of its booming economy, its abundant human and natural resources, and its long tradition of multiculturalism! Don’t be left behind! Vamos falar português! É a vez do Brasil! Let’s speak Brazilian Portuguese! It’s Brazil’s turn!