Angolan Portuguese

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Angolan Portuguese
português angolano, português de Angola
Native to Angola
Native speakers
20% of the population (2005)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
Beer advertisement in Portuguese, in Luanda

Angolan Portuguese (Portuguese: Português de Angola) is a group of dialects and accents of the Portuguese language used mostly in Angola where it is an official language. It is used in Angola by 60% of the population, and by 20% as their first language.[1]

There are different stages of Portuguese language in Angola in a similar manner to other Portuguese-speaking African countries. Some closely approximate Standard Portuguese pronunciation and are associated with upper class and younger generations of urban background.


Portuguese explorers started to explore Angola in the late 15th century. Portuguese, although spoken there earlier, largely entered Angola during the 19th century, after the division of Africa between the former colonial powers (Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain). For the Africans to be considered Portuguese, they had to be Roman Catholics and speak Portuguese.

These conditions made a rush between Africans to speak proper Portuguese, thus a local variant did not arise, and a competition between the rival tribes had arisen to provide their children with the best education along with speaking the best Portuguese, which is still common today. The local languages came to be viewed as inferior by both colonizers and locals. Most locals eventually abandoned their languages in favor of Portuguese, given the cultural, religious, economic and political prestige which Portuguese enjoyed.

In the late 20th century, Portuguese became an instrument for independence, as it was perfectly spoken by the African native and political elite, becoming a symbol of national identity unifying the various rival tribes for the same goal: independence. Portuguese is still seen as something that unifies Angola. The government relies on it because it is a widely spoken, unifying element, as well as being a widely spoken international language.


Vernacular accents share similarities with Brazilian Portuguese and these similar features have historical reasons. The contemporary Standard European Portuguese is the preferred pronunciation, as such it has become a transitional dialect somewhat midway between the European and Brazilian varieties. In its phonology, Angolan Portuguese is not significantly influenced by the local languages. The standard phonology in Angola is the European standard, like in Portugal and the rest of Africa. But there are some phonological features similar to Brazilian dialect, such as that nh is pronounced as a nasal palatal approximant [j̃], which nasalizes the vowel that precedes it, and dropping of word-final /r/ ([ɾ] and [ʁ]), especially for people who speak Portuguese as their second language. It is also commonly seen as the African accent of Portuguese, and when dubbing an African character in cartoons and TV and film productions, Portuguese usually mimic an Angolan accent.


Although most of the vocabulary is the same as in Portugal or Brazil, there are some differences, many due to the influence of several languages spoken in Angola. Each area has different lexicon originating from the distinctive languages. In the capital, Luanda, a very standard Portuguese is spoken, and tribal culture and languages are practically nonexistent. Still, there are several Kimbundu influences. This lexicon is not used in documents or business, for example, as it is mostly seen as slang, but there are exceptions. Most of this lexicon is mostly used by younger Angolans and Portuguese, similarly to younger African-Americans in the US.

Angola Portugal Brazil Translation
anhara, chana savana savana savanna
bazar ir embora, bazar (slang) ir embora, vazar (slang) to go away/home
cacimba poço cacimba, poço well
chuinga pastilha elástica, chiclete chiclete chewing gum
farra festa, farra festa, farra party
garina rapariga, miúda, garina, gaja (slang) garota, guria (in the south) girl
jinguba amendoim amendoim peanut
bunda nádegas, rabo, cu (slang) nádegas, bunda, rabo (slang) butt (us), bum (uk & ireland)
machimbombo autocarro ônibus bus
muceque bairro da lata favela slum quarter

Younger Luandese, who speak primarily Portuguese, have even a wider lexicon of slang. It does not correspond to a dialect, but a sociolect. Because of immigration and because of the slang's novelty, the younger generations in Portugal often adopt its use. Angolans in Lisbon also have a tendency to create new words for use socially and as group expressions, and often even newcomers from Angola cannot understand them. The newcomers are known as exportados ("exported ones"). The following list has Luandese followed by Standard Portuguese:

  • está andutaestá fácil ("it is easy")
  • apanhar uma tonaapanhar uma bebedeira ("to get drunk")
  • kotavelho ("older person"; originally a respectful word and still so between Angolans, but younger Portuguese use it as a slang for older people, sometimes kindly, but often pejoratively, e.g. for "old geezer").
  • ioféfeio ("ugly"; maybe a Portuguese inverted slang; see verlan).
  • nboamulher ("woman").
  • piô, candenguecriança ("child")
  • pitéucomida ("food"; Between Portuguese, it indicates "tasty food").
  • latonamulata ("mulatto woman", abbreviation for "mulatona").
  • mboiocomboio (abbreviation for "train").
  • tapetelevisão ("television").
  • bila, bilaucamisa ("shirt").
  • bótercarro ("car").

Examples of words borrowed from Kimbundu, for instance, into Angolan Portuguese include:

  • cubata 'house'
  • muamba 'chicken stew'
  • quinda 'basket'
  • giumbo 'machete'
  • milongo 'medicine'
  • quituxe 'crime'

The impact of Angolan Portuguese[edit]

Sign in Portuguese at the Avenida de Lenin (Lenin avenue) in Luanda

Many words of Angolan origin have reached other countries or regions where Portuguese is used. Among these words are bunda (backside or "bottom"); fubá (a maize flour); moleque ("kid"); samba; and several others. Also included are words not native to other regions, such as kizomba, kilapanda, kilapanga, ngoma, and kuduro. But regardless of the loanwords from Bantu languages in the lexicon, it must not be considered a Portuguese creole because the grammar and lexicon are truly Portuguese-based. In Brazilian Portuguese, there are a large number of words, whose origin lie in Angolan languages. Various aspects of Brazilian culture – samba, candomblé and capoeira – all bear linguistic traces of this contact.

In Portugal, Angolan Portuguese has had a large influence on the vernacular of the younger population, contributing significant amounts of lexicon. Examples include:

  • bazar ("to go away/home"; in Brazil spelt as vazar)
  • garina ("girl")
  • bumbar ("to work" in Angola, "to party" in Portugal; sometimes spelt as bombar)
  • bué ("many", "a lot")
  • ("yes")

and numerous other examples. Many of these words and expression made their way to Portugal during the period of decolonisation in the 1970s, with the arrival of so-called retornados, white Angolans who left the newly independent nation. This influence was reinforced by more recent immigration of black Angolans as a result of the Angolan civil war. These words were even brought to Brazil by white Angolan refugees during and after independence.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Angola: Language Situation (2005). Keith Brown, ed. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4. 

External links[edit]