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I consider a holiday in Brazil, especially Florianópolis. But I can't speak any Portuguese.

Can I get around there with English and a little Spanish?

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I've yet to meet a Portuguese speaker who couldn't understand the Spanish of a foreigner who knows only "a little Spanish". And you might be surprised how much you understand them. Favela street slang would be another matter, but when they're trying to make themselves understood to you Spanish and Portuguese can be extremely close. – hippietrail Jan 3 '14 at 17:11
Really? I live in Argentina now and learn Spanish. But on the flight with an Portuese Airline I did not understand a word of their Portuguese :O) Sounded like a mix of Spanish and Swedish to me. – juergen d Jan 3 '14 at 17:17
European Portuguese sounds really different to a foreigner who learned some Spanish in Latin America or in Spain. But no matter where you learned it, Brazilian Portuguese sounds much more familiar. Unless as I say it's very fast or full of slang. The other way, native speakers from Brazil or Portugal will understand you, but to understand somebody fro Portugal takes much more getting used to. – hippietrail Jan 3 '14 at 17:20
@juergend I watched a tennis match between an Argentine and Brazilian while I lived in Brazil, and at the end when the Argentine gave a speech to the audience, the Brazilians I was with said they could understand him. Perhaps it's easier for native speakers than us language learners. I'm with you; Brazilian Portuguese sounded like a mix between French and Klingon when I heard it for the first time. But you get accustomed to it. – Jonathan Landrum Jan 3 '14 at 17:36
Two tips, if you speak spanish, try slowing it down - most people can understand some spanish, but if you flash someone with spanish like it's our native language you'll only startle and piss people. Learn some simple portuguese word, "aeroporto", "restaurante","hotel" they are not that diferent from english, and may be helpful - but be aware you might not understand them due to local accents, in Florianópolis some people speak much like Cariocas. – Jonathan Jul 7 '14 at 11:38
up vote 16 down vote accepted

I spent a few months in Brazil, I didn't speak any Portuguese and my Spanish is not that good either. So it didn't help me understanding people, but it helped a little reading signs, and they could almost always understand my basic Spanish.

Can I get around there with English and a little Spanish?

It really depends on where you are going and how deep you want to get into the local culture.

I've been to many countries where I did not speak the local language and hardly anybody spoke English, plus all signs were written in a different alphabet. And still, I got around just fine. In Brazil you can at least read the names of the places you want to go to. In most hotels/hostels there is someone speaking English, and if not it still works. Your food, accommodation and transport needs work out somehow. Where it gets a bit more tricky is when you have special needs, say you need to see a doctor.

Brazil was pretty easy and there are many people who speak English and could help out.

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I managed to get around just fine when I moved there. English is more widely spoken in the larger cities than in smaller towns. Spanish is spoken some near the western borders. But in any case, a large smile and gestures along with using a phrase book will get you a very long way.

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protected by Mark Mayo Jan 6 '14 at 4:00

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