FROM PORTUGUESE TO GALICIAN IN A FEW SIMPLE STEPS
SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME
Galician (galego in Galician) is one of the many Romance languages which are less well known but not less important. Galician is a language spoken in the autonomous region of Galicia. Galicia is in the northwest of Spain which also borders Portugal to the south.
Both Portuguese and Galician descend from the medieval Galician-Portuguese language. Due to their shared linguistic history, both languages share many similarities.
This allows speakers of Galician and Portuguese to learn each other's language with ease. So don’t miss the opportunity to learn Galician.
Use the tips in this article as a starting point to learn about the distinctive features of Galician. With the skills you will develop you will be able to use your knowledge of Portuguese to master Galician.
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE SPELLING
It is important to note that Galician orthography is more akin to Spanish than to Portuguese. But don’t worry, this won’t cause any major problems when trying to learn Galician as a Portuguese speaker. All you need to do is understand and follow the patterns below to get a head start learning Galician:
lh becomes ll alho → allo (garlic) filho → fillo (son) folha → folla (hoja)
ge, gi and j become x gente → xente (people) geral → xeral (general) agilidade → axilidade (agility) fugir → fuxir (to flee)
final m becomes n bom → bon (good) atum → atún (tuna) comum → común (common)
ss becomes s fóssil → fósil (fossil) missa → misa (mass) nosso → noso (our) possibilidade → posibilidade (possibility)
some v’s become b’s livro → libro (book) sensível → sensíbel (sensitive) amável → amábel (friendly)
ãe becomes ai mãe → nai (mother)
õe becomes on põe → pón (he / she puts)
ão becomes -ión televisão → televisión (television) canção → canción (song) informação → información (information)
These tips will boost your knowledge of Galician. You will increase the range of your existing vocabulary in a few minutes. It’s always good to be aware of patterns to speed up the learning process.
MORE THAN ONE
Forming the plural in Portuguese is by and large straightforward. You just add an -s to the end of the word and occasionally some vowels before the final -s might change. But in Galician, you just add an -s to the end of the word and that’s it, as you can see in the examples below: televisão / televisões → televisión / televisións (television / televisions) canção / canções → canción / cancións (song / songs) mão / mãos → man / mans (hand / hands) cão / cães → can / cans (dog / dogs) pão / pães → pan / pans (bread / breads) maçã / maçãs → mazá / mazás (apple / apples)
iT'S NOT ALWAYS TE
Portuguese and Galician grammar usually follow the same rules. Yet, there is a very distinctive feature of Galician that you will soon encounter.
In Portuguese the indirect and direct object pronouns in the 2nd person are always te. This is unlike Galician which differentiates them. In Galician, the direct object pronoun is telike Portuguese. In contrast, the indirect object pronoun is che. Let’s see some examples:
dou-te um livro → douche un libro (I give you a book) quero-te muito → quérote moito (I love you very much)
TO BE AND TO HAVE
Two of the most important verbs in most languages are the verbs to be and to have. Many of the verb conjugations in Portuguese and Galician are similar. Nonetheless, if you look closely you will be able to observe some slight differences. These are due to the differences in both languages’ sound systems as I’ve mentioned above:
ser → ser (to be)
sou → son (I am) és → es (you are informal singular) é → é (he / she / you formal singular is) somos → somos (we are) sois → sodes (you are informal plural)
Sois is no longer used in Portuguese. You use são to express both informal and formal you in the plural. Whilst in Galician, you use sodes with vós which is not used anymore in Portuguese as you will learn later.
são → son (they masculine + feminine / you formal plural have)
Son in Galician can mean both I amandthey are / you are formal plural.
ter → ter (to have)
tenho → teño (I have) tens → tes (you have informal singular) tem → ten (he / she / you formal singular has) temos → temos (we have) tendes → tendes
As with sois, tendesis no longer used in Portuguese as it has been mostly replaced by têm.
têm → teñen (they masculine + feminine / you formal plural have)
YOU NEED MORE VERBS
Knowing the verbs to be and to have is essential but they won’t be the only verbs you will be using when you learn Galician. It would be useful to know some other verbs in Galician to be able to widen your topics of conversation. As both languages share the same origin so most verbs follow the same patterns. Still, there are some exceptions that are important for you to know.
Some conjugations for frequently used verbs in the 1st person singular resemble Spanish more than they do Portuguese:
posso → podo (I can)
Even the infinitive for this verb is quite different: pôr in Portuguese and poñer (to be able to) in Galician.
faço → fago (I do / make) peço → pido (I ask for)
WHO'S SPEAKING NOW?
Although Galician and Portuguese are sister languages their personal pronouns don't always coincide. As with most Romance languages, you don’t have to use personal pronouns as the verb will imply who the speaker is. Even so, it's still important for you to know and recognise them so that you can use them when necessary:
eu → eu (I) tu → ti (you singular informal)
The Portuguese tuderives from the Latin tūwhereas tiin Galician from the Latin tibi. It’s interesting to note that tuis also used regionally in Galicia.
ele → el (he) ela → ela (she) você / o senhor / a senhora → vostede (you singular formal)
The formal you in Galician is completely different from the ones used in Portuguese. Vostede which is a cognate with the Portuguese você is more akin to the Spanish usted.
nós → nós (we) vós → vós (you plural informal)
Even though vós exists in Portuguese it’s no longer used except for some areas in northern Portugal. Whilst you use vós in Galician it has been replaced with vocês in Portuguese.
eles → eles (they masculine) elas → elas (they feminine) vocês / os senhores / as senhoras → vostedes
TAKE YOUR PLANNER out
One of the biggest differences between Portuguese and Galician is the days of the week. Both languages used two contrasting systems derived from Latin.
Portuguese uses ordinal numbers to name days, except for Saturday and Sunday (present in Galician to some extent). Whereas Modern Galician follows the same patterns found in other Romance languages (this was also the case in Old Portuguese):
If you already know Portuguese deciphering numbers in Galician will be an easy task. The differences between both languages are limited to slight variations in spelling:
0 zero → cero 1 um / uma → un (masculine) / unha (feminine) 2 dois / duas → dous (masculine) / dúas (feminine) 3 três → tres 4 quatro → catro 5 cinco → cinco 6 seis → seis 7 sete → sete 8 oito → oito 9 nove → nove 10 dez → dez 11 onze → once 12 doze → doce 13 treze → trece 14 catorze → catorce 15 quinze → quince 16 dezesseis → dezaseis 17 dezessete → dezasete 18 dezoito → dezaoito 19 dezanove → dezanove 20 vinte → vinte
GALICIAN IS A LINGUISTIC TREASURE
Galician and Portuguese are two sister and neighbouring languages. Over the course of history, these two beautiful languages have taken different paths. Their journey has caused them to evolve, develop and change.
Even though Portuguese has become an important international language spoken all over the world this should not discourage you from learning Galician. Learning Galician will further enrich your knowledge of Portuguese. You will be diving into a shared linguistic history that spans centuries.
You will discover a new linguistic universe. Learn Galician, you won’t regret it!
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