English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria. Following the economic, political, military, scientific, cultural, and colonial influence of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from the 18th century, via the British Empire, and of the United States since the mid-20th century, it has been widely dispersed around the world, become the leading language of international discourse, and has acquired use as lingua franca in many regions. It is widely learned as a second language and used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organizations. It is the third most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
Historically, English originated from the fusion of languages and dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) settlers by the 5th century - with the word English being derived from the name of the Angles. A significant number of English words are constructed based on roots from Latin, because Latin in some form was the lingua franca of the Christian Church and of European intellectual life. The language was further influenced by the Old Norse language with Viking invasions in the 8th and 9th centuries.
The Norman conquest of England in the 11th century gave rise to heavy borrowings from Norman-French, and vocabulary and spelling conventions began to give the superficial appearance of a close relationship with Romance languages to what had now become Middle English. The Great Vowel Shift that began in the south of England in the 15th century is one of the historical events that mark the emergence of Modern English from Middle English.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language
Portuguese (português or língua portuguesa) is a Romance language that grew from the Latin-descended Galician-Portuguese language that was spoken in the mediaeval Kingdom of Galicia, whose territory is now divided between northern Portugal, Galicia and Asturias. It also absorbed influences from the Romance and Arabic languages spoken in the areas that were conquered by the Portuguese reconquista. It was spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial empire (1415–1999) that included Brazil in South America, Goa and other parts of India, Macau in China, Timor in South-East Asia and the five African countries that make up the PALOP lusophone area: Cape Verde, Guiné-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola and Mozambique. It was used as the exclusive lingua franca on the island of Sri Lanka for almost 350 years. During that time, many creole languages based on Portuguese also appeared around the world, in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
With over 260 million speakers, Portuguese is the fifth most spoken language in the world, the most widely spoken in the southern hemisphere, and the third most spoken in the Western world. In addition to Brazil and Portugal, it is used in Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor, as well as in the former territories of Portuguese India (Goa, Daman, Isle of Angediva, Simbor, Gogol, Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli) and in small communities that were part of the Portuguese Empire in Asia as Malacca, Malaysia and East Africa as Zanzibar, Tanzania. It has official status in the European Union (EU), Mercosur (Mercosul in Portuguese), the African Union, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) and the Association of National Olympic Committees of Portuguese Official Language (ACOLOP).
Like other languages, Portuguese has experienced a historical evolution, being influenced by many other languages and dialects, as it reached the form known today. Contemporary Portuguese comprises several dialects and sub-dialects (subfalares), often very distinct, and two internationally recognized standards (European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese).
Today it is one of the world's major languages, ranked seventh according to number of native speakers (between 193 and 230 million). It is the language of about half of South America's population, even though Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. It is also a major lingua franca in Portugal's former colonial possessions in Africa. It is an official language in nine countries (see the table on the right), also being co-official with Cantonese Chinese in Macau and Tetum in East Timor. There are sizeable communities of Portuguese speakers in various regions of North America, notably in the United States (New Jersey, New England, California and south Florida) and in Ontario, Canada (especially Toronto).
In various aspects, the system of sounds in Portuguese is more similar to the phonologies of Catalan or French than, say, those of Spanish or Italian. Nevertheless, the grammar, structure and vocabulary of the Portuguese and Spanish languages are so similar that phonetic differences do not impede intelligibility between them in any significant way. Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes once called Portuguese "the sweet language", Lope de Vega referred to it as "sweet" while Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac poetically described it as a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela: "the last flower of Latium, wild and beautiful". Portuguese is also termed "the language of Camões", after one of Portugal's best known literary figures, Luís Vaz de Camões.
Portuguese is also the fourth most learned language in the world, since at least 30 million students study this language. The mandatory offering of Portuguese in school curricula is observed in Uruguay, and Argentina, and similar legislation is being considered in Venezuela, Zambia, Congo, Senegal, Namibia, Swaziland, Côte d'Ivoire, and South Africa.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_language
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