I am a Portuguese teacher and I was in Glasgow teaching Portuguese on a high school when a fellow teacher asked me (after listening to my dialogue on the phone with a (Portuguese) friend): “do you also speak Russian?”… And, as you can guess, I can’t speak Russian, but I have to say that my Portuguese is quite good! 🙂

Portuguese has many guttural tones and sliding vowels that make it sound Slavic.

Hearing Portuguese for the first time can be challenging and you only have sure that we are speaking Portuguese when we say “Obrigado!”. It sounds like a strange Russian, loads of [sh sh sh]… But it is not easy to find a formal connection between languages to explain their similarities.

But Portuguese to foreigners sounds like Russian (for native speakers of Portuguese and Russians, this similarity isn’t obvious at all). Russians and people from Ukrainian learn Portuguese very quickly and their accent is very clear. After 10 years in Portugal, it is hard for Portuguese people to find out if a Russian citizen is Portuguese or not (their accent is great after a long period of time in Portugal).

There are exceptions (there are always exceptions to the rules), but most Portuguese words are very different from Russian words. However, for a Portuguese student (someone who is starting from scratch), these two idioms can sound very similar.