In the last couple of weeks I have found myself using French and Italian words when writing or speaking Portuguese. I take this as a very positive development and I will try to explain why.
I was brought up speaking English (with a large Scottish influence that I only became awaree of later. I was useless at French at school (I will show my age and my incompetence by admitting that I got an ‘F’ at French O-level).
At college I studied Welsh and became fluent enough to study in that language - this was after a 2-month intensive saturation course inspired by the methods used in Israel.
After dropping out I moved to Britanny, and gradually learnt (by osmosis) French and some Breton. After 10 years or so I was capable of successfully completing university degree courses in French.
I now live in Ireland. My wife is French-Italian, and will use both languages. The most commonly spoken language in house is French.
I have been learning Portuguese because my activities as an international sports official have led me to work frequently in Portugal, Bazil as well as Angola and Mozambique.
To get to the point:
I am finding that if I don not know the Portuguese word I am substituting a French or sometimes an Italian word. I take this a sign of progress because:
- it shows that I am no longer formulating phrases in English and then translating
- it shows that I have acquired a practical knowledge of how Portuguese words and grammar works - so that I can take a French verb, pronounce it in Portuguese and the conjugate it (hopefully correctly). This is what happens naturally when words are borrowed from one language to another. For instance, French friends working in an EU institution will say ‘J’ai downloadé un document’.
A final advantage - as many Portuguese people have at least some knowledge of French they understand what I mean!