Portuguese in Asia and tips to translate Portuguese to Tetum and Sinhala

Portuguese in Asia and tips to translate Portuguese to Tetum and Sinhala

Tatiana Osoblivaia


Language and Culture


Portuguese, a language with a rich history and global influence, has found its way to various corners of the world, including Asia. The colonial legacy of Portugal in Asia has left a lasting impact on local languages and cultures, creating unique linguistic landscapes in countries like Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka. 

In this blog article, we delve into the presence of Portuguese in Asia and provide valuable tips for translating Portuguese to two distinct Asian languages - Tetum and Sinhala. We will also introduce you to PoliLingua, a trusted translation company that specializes in Portuguese to Asian language translations. 

Whether you're a language enthusiast, a traveler, or in need of professional translation services, join us on this linguistic journey as we explore the intricacies of Portuguese in Asia and discover the best strategies for translating it into Tetum and Sinhala with the expertise of PoliLingua.


History of the appearance of the Portuguese language in Asia

Portuguese has a significant historical presence in Asia, and its influence can still be seen in several countries in the region today.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Portugal established many colonies and trading posts in Asia, including in what is now present-day India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan. As a result, Portuguese became an important language of trade and commerce in the region and had a significant impact on the local languages and cultures.

Today, Portuguese is still spoken as a second language in some parts of Asia, particularly in areas with a significant Portuguese colonial legacy. For example, in India, Portuguese is still spoken by some communities in Goa, which was a Portuguese colony from the 16th century until 1961. In Sri Lanka, Portuguese has influenced the local Sinhala language, with some Portuguese loanwords still present in modern Sinhala.

Portuguese is also taught as a foreign language in some schools and universities in Asia, particularly in countries with strong ties to Portugal or Brazil, such as Timor-Leste, Macau, and Malaysia.

Overall, while Portuguese is not widely spoken as a native language in Asia, its historical presence in the region has left a lasting impact on the local languages and cultures and continues to be an important part of the region's linguistic and cultural heritage.


Asian Countries with Portuguese as a Spoken Language

While Portuguese is commonly associated with countries such as Portugal and Brazil, it might come as a surprise that this beautiful Romance language has also made its way to certain parts of Asia. From colonial legacies to cultural exchanges, Portuguese has left its mark in various Asian countries, enriching their linguistic landscape. Let's delve into some Asian countries where Portuguese is spoken and the unique cultural connections that exist.

  • Timor-Leste (East Timor): Located in Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste is one of the few countries where Portuguese is an official language. This can be traced back to its history as a former Portuguese colony until its independence in 1975. Today, Portuguese remains an important language in government, education, and media, alongside Tetum, a local language.
  • Macau: As a former Portuguese colony and now a Special Administrative Region of China, Macau exhibits a strong Portuguese influence. While the majority of the population speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, Portuguese is an official language and is widely used in government, administration, and some areas of business. It reflects the fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, which is evident in Macau's architecture, cuisine, and festivals.
  • Goa: In India, the state of Goa holds a significant Portuguese legacy. The Portuguese colonized Goa for over four centuries, resulting in a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. Portuguese continues to be spoken by a small portion of the population, particularly among the older generations. The influence of Portuguese can be seen in Goan cuisine, architecture, and religious practices.
  • Daman and Diu: Similar to Goa, the union territory of Daman and Diu in India also experienced Portuguese rule. The influence of Portuguese can still be observed in the local dialect, architecture, and customs. While the usage of Portuguese has declined over the years, there are pockets within the community that continue to speak the language.
  • Malacca (Melaka): The historical city of Malacca in Malaysia has a rich colonial past, with the Portuguese being one of the earliest European powers to establish a presence there. Although the usage of Portuguese has diminished over time, a small community known as the Kristang people, descendants of Portuguese settlers, still speak a Creole language called Kristang, which blends Portuguese and Malay.


These Asian countries showcase the enduring linguistic influence of Portuguese. They serve as reminders of the complex historical interactions between Portuguese explorers, traders, and colonizers with the local populations. The presence of Portuguese in these regions highlights the power of language to shape cultural identities and the lasting impact of historical legacies.


Cause of increasing demands to translate Portuguese to Tetum

There has been an increasing demand for translations between Portuguese and Tetum in recent years due to a variety of factors. Here are some of the main reasons:

  • Historical tie - Tetum is an official language in Timor-Leste, a country that was a former Portuguese colony. As a result, there are many historical and cultural ties between Portugal and Timor-Leste, which has led to a significant amount of trade, tourism, and diplomatic relations between the two countries.
  • Development aid - Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries have provided significant amounts of development aid to Timor-Leste, particularly in the areas of education, health, and infrastructure. This has led to a need for translations of technical documents, reports, and other materials from Portuguese into Tetum.
  • International organizations - Timor-Leste is a member of several international organizations, including the United Nations, where Portuguese is one of the official languages. As a result, there is a need for translations of official documents and communications between Portuguese and Tetum.
  • Cultural exchange - There has been a growing interest in cultural exchange between Portugal and Timor-Leste, including the translation of literature, music, and other cultural materials between the two languages.


The increasing demand for translations between Portuguese and Tetum reflects the growing ties between Portugal and Timor-Leste, as well as the need for effective communication in a range of fields, from development aid to diplomacy to cultural exchange.


Cause of the popularity of translations between Portuguese and Sinhala?

The popularity of translations between Portuguese and Sinhala can be attributed to several factors.

  • Historical connections: Portugal had a significant presence in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) during the 16th and 17th centuries. As a result, Portuguese has influenced the Sinhala language, with some Portuguese loanwords still present in modern Sinhala. This historical connection has led to a continued interest in translating between the two languages.
  • Economic ties: Portugal and Sri Lanka have strong economic ties, with trade and investment between the two countries increasing in recent years. As a result, there is a growing need for translation services between Portuguese and Sinhala to facilitate business transactions and communication.
  • Tourism: Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination for Portuguese-speaking countries such as Portugal, Brazil, and Angola. As a result, there is a need for translation services to help Portuguese-speaking tourists communicate with locals and navigate the country.


The popularity of translations between Portuguese and Sinhala can be attributed to historical connections, economic ties, and tourism, all of which require effective communication between the two languages.


Online apps to translate Portuguese to Tetum or Sinhala

Here are some online apps that can translate Portuguese to Sinhala or Tetum.

  • Google Translate - Google Translate is a popular online translation tool that can translate Portuguese to Sinhala or Tetum, as well as many other languages. It offers text, voice, and image translation.
  • SDL FreeTranslation - SDL FreeTranslation is another online translation tool that can translate Portuguese to Sinhala or Tetum. It offers both text and document translation, as well as website translation.
  • DeepL Translator - DeepL Translator is a free online translation tool that offers high-quality translations from Portuguese to Sinhala or Tetum. It uses artificial intelligence to improve translation accuracy and offers text and document translation.
  • Babylon Translator - Babylon Translator is an online translation tool that can translate Portuguese to Sinhala or Tetum, as well as many other languages. It offers text and document translation, as well as a dictionary and thesaurus.


Note that while these online tools can be helpful for basic translations, they may not always provide accurate or nuanced translations. For professional translations, it's best to consult with a human translator or a translation company.


Translate Portuguese to Sinhala or Tetum with PoliLingua

PoliLingua is a leading translation agency that specializes in translating Portuguese from Tetum to Sinhala. Our team of skilled translators possesses native-level proficiency in both Portuguese and the target Asian languages, ensuring accurate and culturally nuanced translations from Portuguese to Tetum or Sinhala.

With a focus on quality and precision, we cater to clients seeking professional translation services for business, legal, technical, medical, and other specialized fields. Whether you need to translate Portuguese documents into Tetum or translate Portuguese to Sinhala, our expert linguists are well-equipped to handle diverse translation requirements.

At PoliLingua, we understand the importance of cultural sensitivity and linguistic accuracy in translation. Our translators have in-depth knowledge of the cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, and local customs of the target Asian languages. This expertise enables us to deliver translations that are not only linguistically accurate but also resonate with the target audience, ensuring effective communication and understanding.

By leveraging our extensive network of language professionals, advanced translation tools, and rigorous quality assurance processes, we strive to deliver translations of the highest standard. Our commitment to client satisfaction, quick turnaround times, and competitive pricing set us apart as a trusted translation partner for businesses and individuals alike.

Whether you need to translate legal contracts, marketing materials, technical documents, or any other content from Portuguese to any Asian language including Tetum and Sinhala, PoliLingua is your go-to translation agency. Partner with us for accurate, reliable, and culturally appropriate translations that bridge the language gap and help you expand your reach in the Asian market.



Our translations are performed by translators carefully selected to align with the subject matter and content of your project. They meet and exceed international quality standards. Upon request, we will provide you with a certificate attesting to the precision of our translations