Maradona had Pele in his tv show and there wasn’t any translator. I know that Argentinians speak Spanish and Brazilians speak Portuguese. Are the two languages too close that their speakers could understand each other? Or does Pele speak Spanish?
Don’t know about this specific case, but it’s been my experience that most Brazilians are able to function reasonably well in Spanish. The other way round, not so much.
Portuguese and Spanish are very similar when written, with slightly different spelling in some case and different vocabulary in others. When spoken, they sound rather different, but the underlying grammar is very close (word order, conjugation, etc.).
An educated Spaniard and an educated Portugese could probably communicate with each other without too much trouble by speaking slowly and weeding out obvious idioms. If they could write words down, then it wouldn’t be too difficult at all. But I can’t see conducting an interview like that since it would be awkwardly slow for the two people and most of their audience would be confused. I’ll bet it was either done all in Spanish or all in Portuguese. Given the much larger world-wide currency of Spanish, that would be the safer bet.
I can speak some Spanish and find Portuguese fairly easy to read (at least to get he gist of what is being said), but when I hear it spoken, I’m hard pressed to reconginze more than a few words here and there. The accent is just so different. Italian sounds more recognizable to my ear.
Well, I speak Portuguese and find Spanish fairly easy to read (at least to get he gist of what is being said), but when I hear it spoken, I’m hard pressed to reconginze more than a few words here and there :).
Actually, I have heard it said that for one reason or another, a native Brazilian can understand Spanish better than a native Spanish speaker can understand Portuguese – kind of a one-way filter.
I agree with John in that it is likely the pronunciation: Spanish has only the five pure vowel sounds, while Portuguese has open, closed, and nasal versions of each vowel, possibly adding complication. For example, avó and avô are grandmother and grandfather respectively, the exact same letters, spoken with open “o” versus closed “o” makes all of the difference in the world to the grandparents.
I suppose that this may be as troublesome for some as the distinction in English pronunciation between “man” and “men” (try it sometime: few Spanish or Portuguese speakers can tell the difference between those two words).
Another contributing factor (and this is only my theory, with absolutely no fact to back it up): Many common Spanish words that differ from the corresponding common Portuguese word match the equivalent ten-dollar Portuguese word. People say “esquecer” in Portuguese to mean “to forget”, while they say “olvidarse” in Spanish. A Brazilian will have read “olvidar” in Poruguese literature, so the word will still be recognized.
My father is fluent in Brazillian Portugese and says he doesn’t find it that difficult to understand Spanish. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pele could converse in both languages.
It’s hard to imagine an interview being conducted in the two languages; even if both were conversant enough to understand the other, much of the audience wouldn’t be. But it’s quite easy for either a Portuguese speaker to pick up Spanish or vice versa.
And like you say, Portuguese speakers tend to have an easier time understanding spoken Spanish than the other way around. In a very, very rough, non-linguistic approximation, Portuguese is a bit more slurred sounding than Spanish. And Argentinian Spanish in particular tends to be relatively free of certain regionalisms like the wholesale dropping of syllable-final S in Caribbean Spanish or the sometimes indistinct or elided vowels of Mexican Spanish.
Funny, but it always seemed the other way around to me
I have a friend who grew up in Brazil. She says she can understand Spanish, but can’t really speak it.
I used to have a Romanian coworker. He told me that as a child he watched a lot of Italian TV.
Gotta love those Romance languages.