Portuguese (português) is a Romance language spoken predominantly in the former colonies of Portugal, East Timor, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, and Brazil as well as in the Portuguese motherland.
It is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world with some 250 million native speakers. The language spread around the globe during the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal initiated the world's first and the longest living modern colonial and commercial empire which spanned from Macau in China to Angola and Mozambique in Africa and to Brazil in the Americas. Today there are also several Creole languages rooted in Portuguese as well as being an important language for minorities located in Namibia, Luxembourg, and Andorra. There are sizable immigrant populations around the world residing in such cities as Paris, Boston, New Bedford, and even Newark, New Jersey.
English words with an Iberian Portuguese origin include fandango, lingo, albino, and molasses.
One of the challenges inherent in Portuguese translation concerns the subject of dialect. This is due to the fact that Brazilian and European dialects, though mutually intelligible, are sufficiently different with respect to both syntax and phonology to make Europeans uncomfortable with the Brazilian variety and, increasingly, vice versa.
Unlike most major languages, which exhibit a dominant dialect or whose international differences are relatively minor, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to Portuguese. Texts targeting European or African audiences are best not performed by native Brazilian linguists, while Brazilian linguists are, obviously, most appropriate for communications within their own dialect.
It is important to consider, however, that the Brazilian form is likely to become dominant in the years to come as Brazil takes its place among the world's economic superpowers. Similarly, of the aforementioned 250 million Portuguese speakers worldwide, roughly 80% are Brazilian. More strikingly, today Brazil is roughly 20 times the size of Portugal with respect to total population making the decision about which dialect is most appropriate for general communication a difficult trade off.