Portugal: What Language Do You Speak?

Submitted by Makaela Purcell on the 2018 summer session program in Salamanca, Spain sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures…

This past weekend, three of my friends and I went to a city in Portugal called Porto. Porto is a city located on a river and a short drive from the beach. Portugal was a lot different from Spain. Since Porto is on a river, their tourism revolves around that and a lot of what they consume is wine and seafood. They are known for their port wine, which is the wine found at the bottom of the barrel and therefore has a higher alcohol content. Due to the amount of wine this city consumes, everything revolves around cork. We found an open air market along the riverfront and walked through it every day we were there. Many of the products sold at the market not only were handmade, but were also made out of cork. Another thing about Porto that I found so interesting was that when we were walking through the market, the vendors would look at me and my friends and ask what language we spoke. We got various responses including French, Spanish, Portuguese and even Brazilian. Obviously, we went to Spain to study Spanish so we always told the vendors Spanish and they would start talking to us and explaining things in Spanish. I was blown away by the fact that these vendors could speak five or six different languages fluently, when I was struggling to learn one more. I also think that this shows a big cultural difference between European countries and America. So many of the languages spoken in Europe are closely related or follow similar grammatical rules and spelling patterns. But I also think that they are almost forced to learn other languages if they want to communicate with the surrounding countries.

View of Porto, Portugal from across the river.
This is the Ponte Luis Bridge which you can walk across both the bottom and the top of for spectuacular views of the city.
View of Porto from the top of the Ponte Luis I bridge.
Sunset over the River Duro.