As is the case in other regions of Portugal, in the Algarve too the sayings, expressions and accents show marked differences from standard Portuguese. However, due to the region’s long period of isolation, the particularities of the Algarve language are greater. It is worth bearing in mind that up until less than a century ago, travelling to the rest of the country, with the exception of the Baixo Alentejo, meant going by boat along the coast.
Sometimes, the marked individuality of the Algarve accent can make it difficult for those not familiar with it to understand what is being said. This, however, is part of the charm and pleasure of travel because the way people speak and the things that they say express the identity and cultural heritage of the places we visit and the people who live there.
The Algarve language is much more than a mere accent; it expresses a way of life, with its traditional sayings, its well-known and highly colourful curses, and the vivacity and rhythm of conversations. Curses in the Algarve can be ironic, wicked and biting, but also have traces of superstition. They are part of an oral tradition, many from the coast, and inevitably cause smiles and a feeling of affinity.
All of this is inextricably linked to the region’s rich and varied history. The language bears the influences of Arabic, archaic Portuguese, neologisms and seafaring terms, but the language also changes depending on where you are: by the sea, in the countryside and uplands, in the western Algarve or farther east, close to the border with Spain.
This accent and this language are among the Algarve’s most notable characteristics. Amusing, cheerful and humorous, they reflect this land of sunshine and contrasts, a land from which explorers set sail all those centuries ago on voyages to discover the world, and a land which, today, opens its arms wide in welcome to everyone who wants to visit it.