|Native to||See geographic distribution of Portuguese|
|220 million (2010)
250 million (L1 plus L2 speakers) (2012)
|Latin (Portuguese alphabet)
|Portuguese Sign Language (Portugal), Língua Brasileira de Sinais (Brazil), Língua Angolana de Sinais (Angola), Língua Moçambicana de Sinais (Mozambique).|
Official language in
Numerous international organisations
|Regulated by||International Portuguese Language Institute
Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazil)
Academia das Ciências de Lisboa, Classe de Letras (Portugal)
Official and administrative language
Cultural or secondary language
Portuguese speaking minorities
Portuguese (português or, in full, língua portuguesa)[nb 1] is a Romance language and the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in Macau (China), Equatorial Guinea and East Timor. As the result of expansion during colonial times, Portuguese speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India, in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka a, and in Malacca in Malaysia. The Portuguese language is currently making a strong comeback in the Portuguese speaking territories in India, particularly in Goa. This revivalist movement is being referred to as a Portuguese language and culture renaissance. The younger generation of Goans are eagerly learning Portuguese in the many schools there that still teach it. Most elderly Christian Goans are still fluent in Portuguese.
Portuguese is a part of the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia. With approximately 215 to 220 million native speakers and 260 million total speakers, Portuguese is usually listed as the fifth most spoken language in the world, the third most spoken European language and the major language of the Southern Hemisphere. It is also the most spoken language in South America and the second most spoken in Latin America, after Spanish, as well as an official language of the European Union and Mercosul.
Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes once called Portuguese "the sweet and gracious language" and Spanish playwright Lope de Vega referred to it as "sweet", while the Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac poetically described it as "a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela" (the last flower of Latium, rustic and beautiful). Portuguese is also termed "the language of Camões", after one of the greatest literary figures in the Portuguese language, Luís Vaz de Camões.
In March 2006, the Museum of the Portuguese Language, the first language museum in the world, an interactive museum about the Portuguese language, was founded in São Paulo, Brazil, the city with the greatest number of Portuguese language speakers in the world.
When the Romans arrived in the Iberian Peninsula in 216 BC, they brought the Latin language with them, from which all Romance languages descend. The language was spread by arriving Roman soldiers, settlers, and merchants, who built Roman cities mostly near the settlements of previous civilizations.
Between AD 409 and 711, as the Roman Empire collapsed in Western Europe, the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Germanic peoples (Migration Period). The occupiers, mainly Suebi and Visigoths who originally spoke Germanic languages, quickly adopted late Roman culture and the Vulgar Latin dialects of the peninsula and over the next 300 years totally integrated in the local populations. After the Moorish invasion of 711, Arabic became the administrative and common language in the conquered regions, but most of the remaining Christian population continued to speak a form of Romance commonly known as Mozarabic which lasted a few centuries longer in Spain.
Portuguese evolved from the medieval language, known today by linguists as Galician-Portuguese or Old Portuguese or Old Galician, of the northwestern medieval Kingdom of Galicia, the first among the Christian kingdoms after the start of the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors. It is in Latin administrative documents of the 9th century that written Galician-Portuguese words and phrases are first recorded. This phase is known as Proto-Portuguese, which lasted from the 9th century until the 12th-century independence of the County of Portugal from the Kingdom of Galicia, then a subkingdom of León.
In the first part of Galician-Portuguese period (from the 12th to the 14th century), the language was increasingly used for documents and other written forms. For some time, it was the language of preference for lyric poetry in Christian Hispania, much as Occitan was the language of the poetry of the troubadours in France. Portugal became an independent kingdom in 1139, under King Afonso I of Portugal. In 1290, King Denis of Portugal created the first Portuguese university in Lisbon (the Estudos Gerais, later moved to Coimbra) and decreed that Portuguese, then simply called the "common language", be known as the Portuguese language and used officially.
In the second period of Old Portuguese, in the 15th and 16th centuries, with the Portuguese discoveries, the language was taken to many regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas. By the mid-16th century Portuguese had become a lingua franca in Asia and Africa, used not only for colonial administration and trade but also for communication between local officials and Europeans of all nationalities.
Its spread was helped by mixed marriages between Portuguese and local people, and by its association with Roman Catholic missionary efforts, which led to the formation of creole languages such as that called Kristang in many parts of Asia (from the word cristão, "Christian"). The language continued to be popular in parts of Asia until the 19th century. Some Portuguese-speaking Christian communities in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia preserved their language even after they were isolated from Portugal.
The end of the Old Portuguese period was marked by the publication of the Cancioneiro Geral by Garcia de Resende, in 1516. The early times of Modern Portuguese, which spans a period from the 16th century to the present day, were characterized by an increase in the number of learned words borrowed from Classical Latin and Classical Greek since the Renaissance, which greatly enriched the lexicon.
Portuguese is the language of the majority of people in Brazil, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe (95%). Portuguese is quickly becoming the predominant native language of Angola. According to figures from 1983, roughly 70%, perhaps more, of Angolans speak Portuguese natively, and 85% profess fluency in Portuguese. Although only just over 10 percent of the population are native speakers of Portuguese in Mozambique, the language is spoken by about 50.4 percent there according to the 2007 census. It is also spoken by 11.5 percent of the population in Guinea-Bissau. No data is available for Cape Verde, but almost all the population is bilingual, and the monolingual population speaks Cape Verdean Creole.
There are also significant Portuguese-speaking immigrant communities in many countries including Andorra (15.4%), Australia, Bermuda, Canada (0.72% or 219,275 persons in the 2006 census but between 400,000 and 500,000 according to Nancy Gomes), Curaçao, France, Japan, Jersey, Luxembourg (9%), Namibia (about 4-5% of the population, mainly refugees from Angola in the North of the country) Paraguay (10.7% or 636,000 persons), Macau (0.6% or 12,000 persons), South Africa, Switzerland (196,000 nationals in 2008), Venezuela (1 to 2% or 254,000 to 480,000), and the USA (0.24% of the population or 687,126 speakers according to the 2007 American Community Survey), mainly in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts (where it is the second most spoken language in the state), New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
The Community of Portuguese Language Countries (with the Portuguese acronym CPLP) consists of the eight independent countries that have Portuguese as an official language: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Equatorial Guinea made a formal application for full membership to the CPLP in June 2010 and should add Portuguese as its third official language (alongside Spanish and French) since this is one of the conditions. The President of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang Nguema Mbasog, and Prime Minister Ignacio Milam Tang have approved on 20 July 2011 the new Constitutional bill that intends to add Portuguese as an official language of the country. The bill is now waiting for ratification by the People's Representative Chamber and it shall come into force 20 days after its publication at the official state's gazette.
Portuguese is also one of the official languages of the Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China of Macau (alongside Chinese) and of several international organizations, including the Mercosur, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Organization of American States, the African Union and the European Union.
According to The World Factbook country population estimates for 2013, the population of each of the nine jurisdictions is as follows (by descending order):
|Country||Population (2014 est.)|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||190,428|
This means that the population living in the Lusophone official area is of 261,976,607 inhabitants. To this number there is yet to add the Lusophone diaspora spread throughout the world, estimated at little less than 10 million people (4.5 million Portuguese, 3 million Brazilians, half a million Cape Verdeans, etc.) although it is hard to obtain official accurate numbers—including the percentage of this diaspora that can actually speak Portuguese, because a significant portion of these citizens are naturalized citizens born outside of Lusophone territory or children of immigrants, and who may have only the most basic command of the language. It is also important to note that a big part of these national diasporas is a part of the already counted population of the Portuguese-speaking countries and territories, like the high number of Brazilian and PALOP emigrant citizens in Portugal or the high number of Portuguese emigrant citizens in the PALOP and Brazil.
The Portuguese language therefore serves more than 250 million people daily, who have direct or indirect legal, juridic and social contact with it, varying from the only language used in any contact, to only education, contact with local or international administration, commerce and services or the simple sight of road signs, public information and advertising in Portuguese.
The mandatory offering of Portuguese language in school curricula is observed in Uruguay and Argentina. Other countries where Portuguese is taught at schools or is being introduced now include Venezuela, Zambia, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Namibia, Swaziland, and South Africa.
According to estimates by UNESCO, Portuguese is the fastest-growing European language after English and the language has, according to the newspaper The Portugal News publishing data given from UNESCO, the highest potential for growth as an international language in southern Africa and South America. The Portuguese-speaking African countries are expected to have a combined population of 83 million, and Brazil 350 million by 2050. In total, the Portuguese-speaking countries will have about 433 million people by the same year. Portuguese is truly a globalized language spoken officially in 5 continents, or as a second language by millions worldwide.
Since 1991, when Brazil signed into the economic community of Mercosul with other South American nations, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, Portuguese is either mandatory, or taught, in the schools of those South American countries.
Although early in the 21st century, after Macau was ceded to China and Brazilian immigration to Japan slowed down, the use of Portuguese was in decline in Asia, it is once again becoming a language of opportunity there, mostly because of increased diplomatic and financial ties with Portuguese-speaking countries in China, but also some interest in their cultures, mainly Koreans and Japanese about Brazil. Presently China is doing a great amount of trade with all of the Portuguese speaking countries, and the Chinese themselves are learning Portuguese. These factors bode very well for the continued growth of Portuguese as an important economic, international language.
Modern Standard European Portuguese (português padrão or português continental) is based on the Portuguese spoken in the area including and surrounding the cities of Coimbra and Lisbon, in central Portugal, while modern Standard Brazilian Portuguese (português neutro) is based on the Portuguese spoken in the area including and surrounding the city of Rio de Janeiro, in southeastern Brazil, which if vanished from its stereotypical traits i.e. its strong European flavor in phonology and prosody, is linguistically a halfway between Brazilian dialects and accents.
Standard European Portuguese is also the preferred standard by the Portuguese-speaking African countries. As such, and despite the fact that its speakers are dispersed around the world, Portuguese has only two dialects used for learning: the European and the Brazilian. Some aspects and sounds found in many dialects of Brazil are exclusive to South America, and cannot be found in Europe. However, the Santomean Portuguese in Africa may be confused with a Brazilian dialect by its phonology and prosody. Some aspects link some Brazilian dialects with the ones spoken in Africa, such as the pronunciation of "menino", which is pronounced as [miˈninu] (though rather different for many Brazilian speakers, e.g. [me̞ˈn̠ʲĩnʊ]) compared to [mɯ̟ˈninu] in European Portuguese, though most of them are assumed to be conservative rather than innovative. Dialects from inland northern Portugal have significant similarities with Galician.
Audio samples of some dialects and accents of Portuguese are available below. There are some differences between the areas but these are the best approximations possible. IPA transcriptions refer to the names in local pronunciation.
Differences between dialects are mostly of accent and vocabulary, but between the Brazilian dialects and other dialects, especially in their most colloquial forms, there can also be some grammatical differences. The Portuguese-based creoles spoken in various parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas are independent languages.
Portuguese, like Catalan and Sardinian, preserved the stressed vowels of Vulgar Latin, which became diphthongs in most other Romance languages; cf. Port., Cat., Sard. pedra ; Fr. pierre, Sp. piedra, It. pietra, Ro. piatră, from Lat. petra ("stone"); or Port. fogo, Cat. foc, Sard. fogu; Sp. fuego, It. fuoco, Fr. feu, Ro. foc, from Lat. focus ("fire"). Another characteristic of early Portuguese was the loss of intervocalic l and n, sometimes followed by the merger of the two surrounding vowels, or by the insertion of an epenthetic vowel between them: cf. Lat. salire ("to leave"), tenere ("to have"), catenam ("chain"), Sp. salir, tener, cadena, Port. sair, ter, cadeia.
When the elided consonant was n, it often nasalized the preceding vowel: cf. Lat. manum ("hand"), ranam ("frog"), bonum ("good"), Port. mão, rãa, bõo (now mão, rã, bom). This process was the source of most of the language's distinctive nasal diphthongs. In particular, the Latin endings -anem, -anum and -onem became -ão in most cases, cf. Lat. canem ("dog"), germanum ("brother"), rationem ("reason") with Modern Port. cão, irmão, razão, and their plurals -anes, -anos, -ones normally became -ães, -ãos, -ões, cf. cães, irmãos, razões.
The Portuguese language is also the only Romance language that developed the clitic case mesoclisis: cf. dar-te-ei (I'll give thee), amar-te-ei (I'll love you), contactá-los-ei (I'll contact them). It was also the only Romance language to develop the "syntactic pluperfect past tense": cf. eu estivera (I had been), eu vivera (I had lived), vós vivêreis (you had lived). Both the tense conjugation and the mesoclisis are used for literary purposes, but forgotten elsewhere.
A number of Portuguese words can be traced to the pre-Roman inhabitants of Portugal, which included the Gallaeci, Lusitanians, Celtici and Cynetes. There are some notable examples are abóbora "pumpkin" and bezerro "year-old calf", from the Celtiberian language (probably through the Celtici); cerveja "beer", from Celtic. The list of words below is of Celtic origin and often finds it's equivalent or near-identical variation in Galician: amieiro 'common alder', a derivative in -arium of *abona 'river', related to Breton avon, Welsh afon, Irish abha/abhainn 'river'. abrunho 'prunus spinosa'[m] 'sloe', from Vulgar Latin *aprūneu, from Latin prūnum, maybe under the influence of Celtic *agrīnio; akin to Irish áirne, Welsh eirin 'plum'; cognate of Occitan agranhon, Provençal agreno, Catalan aranyó, Aragonese arañon. varga [f] 'hut; wall made of hurdles; hurdle, fence', from Celtic *wraga, cognate of Spanish varga 'hut', French barge, akin to Old Irish fraig, Irish fraigh 'braided wall, roof, pen', Br gwrac'hell 'haybale, rick of hay'. barra [f] 'garret, loft, upper platform', from proto-Celtic *barro-, cognate of Irish, Breton barr 'summit, peak, top', Welsh bar Berros. bico [m] 'beak, kiss', from proto-Celtic *bekko-, cognate of Italian becco, French bec. bilha [f] 'spigot; stick' to Proto-Celtic *beljo- 'tree, trunk', akin to Old Irish bille 'large tree, tree trunk', Manx billey 'tree', Welsh pill 'stump', Breton pil; cognate of French bille 'log, chunk of wood'. borba [f] 'mud, slime, mucus', from proto-Celtic *borwâ-, cognate of French bourbe 'mud'; akin to Irish borb 'mud, slime', bearbh 'boiling', Welsh berw 'boiling', Breton berv 'broth, bubbling'. braga [f] 'trousers', from proto-Celtic *braco-, cognate of Spanish, Occitan braga, French braie, Italian brache. Derivatives: bragal, bragada 'spawn', bragueiro 'trus'. brio [m] 'might, power', from Italian brio, from Catalan/Old Occitan briu 'wild', from Celtic *brigos, cognate of Occitan briu, Old French brif 'finesse, style'; akin to Old Irish bríg 'power', Welsh bri 'prestige, authority', Breton bri 'respect'. cais [m] 'quay, jetty', maybe from French (itself from Norman) quai, from proto-Celtic *kag-yo-, akin to Welsh cae, Cornish ke, Breton kae 'hedge'; French chai 'cellar'. caminho [m] 'pathway', alternative spelling caminho, from Vulgar Latin *cammīnus, from proto-Celtic *kanxsman-, cognate of Italian cammino, French chemin, Spanish camino, Catalan camí, Occitan camin ; akin to Old Irish céimm, Breton cam 'step'. Derivatives: caminhar 'to walk'. camisa [f] 'shirt' from Latin, from Gaulish camisia. cognate of Spanish/Occitan camisa, Italian camicia, French chainse canto [m] 'rim, corner', from proto-Celtic *kanto-, akin to Old Irish cét 'round stone pillar, Welsh cant 'tire rim', Breton kant 'disk'; cognate of Old French chant, Occitan cant. Derivatives: recanto 'corner', canto 'edge of a field' carro [m] 'cart, wagon', from Vulgar Latin carrum, from proto-Celtic *karro-, cognate of Rumanian car, Italian carro, French char, Provençal car, Spanish carro; akin to Irish carr, Welsh car, Breton karr. Derivatives: carregar 'to load'. cerveja [f] 'beer', alternative spelling cerveja, from Vulgar Latin *cerevisia, from Gaulish Cognates: Old French cervoise, Provençal, Spanish cerveza; akin to Old Irish coirm, Welsh cwrw chocalho [m] bell', cowbell, akin to Old Irish clocc, Welsh cloch, Breton kloc'h; cognate of Asturian llueca and llócara 'cowbell', French cloche 'bell', German Glock. choco [m] squid', from proto-Celtic *klokko-, colmeia [m] 'beehive', from a Celtic form *kolmēnā 'made of straw' (cf. Spanish colmena 'beehive'), from *kolmos 'straw', which gave Leonese cuelmo; cf. Welsh calaf "reed, stalk", Cornish kalav "straw", Breton kolo "stalk"). comba [f] 'valley, inflexion', from proto-Celtic *kumbā, cognate of North Italian comba, French combe, Occitan comba; akin to Irish com, Welsh cwm 'hollow (land form)', curral [m] 'corral, pen; corner', from Celtic *korro-, akin to Middle Irish cor 'circle, turn', corrán 'sickle', Welsh cor 'enclosure', Cornish kor 'turn, veering'. embaixada [f] 'embassy', from Provençal ambaissada, from ambaissa 'service, duty', from proto-Celtic *ambactos 'servant', akin to Welsh amaeth 'farm', Cornish ammeth 'farming', Old Breton ambaith gavela [f] 'handful, faggot', from proto-Celtic *gabaglā-, cognate of French javelle, Provençal gavela, Spanish gavilla; akin to Old Cornish gavael 'catch, capture', Irish gabháil 'get, take, grab, capture', gabhal 'fork'. légua [f] 'league', to Proto-Celtic *leukā, cognate of French lieue, Spanish legua; akin to Old Irish líe (genitive líag) 'stone', Irish lia leira [f] or leiria 'plot, delimited and levelled field', from the medieval form laria, from proto-Celtic *ɸlār-yo-, akin to Old Irish làr 'ground, floor', Breton leur 'ground', Welsh llawr 'floor'. lousa [f] 'flagstone', from Proto-Celtic *laws-, cognate of Provençal lausa, Spanish losa, French losenge 'diamond'. Derivatives: lousado 'roof'. menino [m] 'kid, child, baby', alternative spelling meninho, from medieval mennino, from proto-Celtic *menno-, akin to Old Irish menn 'kid (goat)', Irish meannán, Welsh myn, Breton menn. minhoca [f] 'earthworm', alternative spelling minhoca, dialectal mioca, miroca, from medieval *milocca, from proto-Celtic *mîlo-, akin to Asturian milu, merucu 'earthworm', Irish míol 'worm, maggot', Welsh, Breton mil 'animal'. peça, from Vulgar Latin *pettia, from Gaulish petsi, from proto-Celtic *kʷezdi, cognate of Italian pezza, French pièce, Spanish pieza; akin to Old Irish cuit (Irish cuid) 'piece, share, part', Welsh peth 'thing', Breton pez. rego [m], rega [f] 'furrow, ditch', from proto-Celtic *ɸrikā, akin to Welsh rhych, Breton reg, Scottish/Irish riach 'trace left from something'; cognate of French raie, Occitan, Catalan rega, Basque erreka, Italian riga 'wrinkle'. Derivatives: regato 'stream, gully, glen'. reo [m] 'Salmo trutta trutta', from a Celtic form rhedo (Ausonius). rodovalho [m] 'turbot', from a Celtic composite form *roto-ball-jo-, meaning 'round-extremity', akin to Irish roth 'wheel', Welsh rhod, Breton rod, and Irish ball 'limb, organ'. saia [f] 'skirt', from the medieval form sagia, from an ancient Celtic form from which also Latin sagum 'robe'. seara [f] 'sown field recently broken up, but which is left fallow', from a medieval form senara, a Celtic compound of *seni- 'apart, separated' (cf. Old Irish sain 'alone', Welsh han 'other') and *aro- 'ploughed field'. (cf. Welsh âr, Irish ár 'ploughed field'). tasca [f] swingle', related to Galatian taskós 'peg, stake'. tojo, 'gorse, furze (Ulex europaeus)', from Celtic *togi-, akin to Spanish/Gascon toja, French dialectal tuie. tranca [f], tranco [m] 'beam, pole', from proto-Celtic *tarankā, cognate of Spanish tranca 'club, cudgel', French taranche 'screw bar, ratchet (wine press)', Provençal tarenco; akin to OIr tairinge 'iron nail, tine', Ir tairne 'metal nail, Sc tairnge 'nail'. truhão [m] 'sadness, anxiety, pity', from proto-Celtic *trougos, akin to Old Irish tróg, Irish trogha, Welsh tru 'wretched', Breton tru 'miserable'; cognate of Portuguese Spanish truhan 'baffoon, jester', French truand 'beggar'. vassalo [m], from Vulgar Latin vassalus, from proto-Celtic *wasto-, cognate of French vassal, Spanish vasallo, Middle Irish foss 'servant', Welsh gwas 'servant; lad', Breton gwaz. vasculho [m] 'bundle of straw; broom', from proto-Celtic *baski- 'bundle', cognate of Gascon bascojo 'basket', Asturian bascayu 'broom', Breton bec'h 'bundle, load'. vereda [f] 'main road', from Celtic *uɸo-rēdo-, cognate of Spanish vereda 'pathway'; akin to Welsh gorwydd 'steed', Vulgar Latin veredus 'horse', French palefroi 'steed' (< *para-veredus). vidoeiro [m] < *betūlariu, biduo [m] < *betūlu, bidulo [m] < *betūllu 'birch', from Celtic *betu- or *betū-, cognate of Catalan beç, Occitan bèç (< bettiu); Spanish abedul, French bouleau, Italian betulla (< betula); akin to Irish beith, Welsh bedw, Breton bezv.
In the 5th century, the Iberian Peninsula (the Roman Hispania) was conquered by the Germanic Suebi and Visigoths. As they adopted the Roman civilization and language, however, these people contributed with some Germanic words to the lexicon, mainly related to warfare—such as espora "spur", estaca "stake", and guerra "war", from Gothic *spaúra, *stakka, and *wirro, respectively. The Germanic languages influence also exists in toponymic surnames and patronymic surnames borne by Visigoth sovereigns and their descendants, and it dwells on placenames such has Ermesinde, Esposende and Resende where sinde and sende are derived from the Germanic "sinths" (military expedition) and in the case of Resende, the prefix re comes from Germanic "reths" (council).
Between the 9th and 13th centuries, Portuguese acquired about 800 words from Arabic by influence of Moorish Iberia. They are often recognizable by the initial Arabic article a(l)-, and include many common words such as aldeia "village" from الضيعة alḍai`a (or from Edictum Rothari: aldii, aldias), alface "lettuce" from الخس alkhass, armazém "warehouse" from المخزن almakhzan, and azeite "olive oil" from الزيت azzait. From Arabic came also the grammatically peculiar word oxalá إن شاء الله "hopefully".
Starting in the 15th century, the Portuguese maritime explorations led to the introduction of many loanwords from Asian languages. For instance, catana "cutlass" from Japanese katana and chá "tea" from Chinese chá.
From South America came batata "potato", from Taino; ananás and abacaxi, from Tupi–Guarani naná and Tupi ibá cati, respectively (two species of pineapple), pipoca "popcorn" and minhoca "earthworm" from Tupi and tucano "toucan" from Guarani tucan.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, because of the role of Portugal as intermediary in the Atlantic slave trade, and the establishment of large Portuguese colonies in Angola, Mozambique, and Brazil, Portuguese acquired several words of African and Amerind origin, especially names for most of the animals and plants found in those territories. While those terms are mostly used in the former colonies, many became current in European Portuguese as well. From Kimbundu, for example, came kifumate > cafuné "head caress" (Brazil), kusula > caçula "youngest child" (Brazil), marimbondo "tropical wasp" (Brazil), and kubungula > bungular "to dance like a wizard" (Angola).
Finally, it has received a steady influx of loanwords from other European languages, especially French and English languages. These are by far the most important languages when referring to loanwords. There are many examples such as: colchete/crochê "bracket"/"crochet", paletó "jacket", batom "lipstick", and filé/filete "steak"/"slice", rua "street" respectively, from French crochet, paletot, bâton, filet, "rue"; and bife "steak", futebol, revólver, estoque, folclore, from English beef, football, revolver, stock, folklore. Examples from other European languages: macarrão "pasta", piloto "pilot", carroça "carriage", and barraca "barrack", from Italian maccherone, pilota, carrozza, baracca and melena "hair lock", fiambre "wet-cured ham" (in Portugal, in contrast with presunto "dry-cured ham" from Latin prae-exsuctus "dehydrated"; not in Brazil), and castelhano "Castilian", from Spanish.
Before the last four decades, Brazilians adopted a greater number of loanwords from Japanese and other European languages (due to the historical immigration affecting their demographics), and they were and are also more willing to adopt foreign terms that come from globalisation than the Portuguese, while the degree of African, Tupian and other Amerindian lexicon in Brazilian Portuguese is shown to be surprisingly lesser than that commonly expected of the said variant by the local Africanist and Indianist academia (that also has to some degree influenced the common sense of what gives a different cultural identity of Brazilians in relation to the Portuguese), so that its lexicon is almost identical (about 99%) to that of European Portuguese.
Many Brazilian Portuguese colonial settlers were from northern and insular Portugal apart from some historically important illegal immigrants from elsewhere in Europe, such as Galicia, France and the Netherlands. It should be noted that Brazil received more European immigrants in its colonial history than the United States. Between 1500 and 1760, 700,000 Europeans (overwhelmingly Portuguese) settled in Brazil, while 530,000 Europeans settled in the United States for the same given time. Approximately 400,000 Portuguese have emigrated to Brazil in the last 10 years largely due to the current difficult economic situation in Portugal.
Portuguese and other Romance languages (namely French and Italian) are not mutually intelligible, although they share considerable similarities in both vocabulary and grammar. Portuguese speakers will usually need some formal study before attaining strong comprehension in those Romance languages, and vice-versa. However, Portuguese and Galician are mutually intelligible. And given that Portuguese has a larger phonemic inventory than Spanish, could explain why it is only moderately intelligible to some Spanish speakers despite the strong lexical and grammatical similarity (89%) between the two languages. Notwithstanding, Portuguese speakers understand Spanish almost perfectly, and written Portuguese and Spanish are almost identical.
Educated Portuguese, Spaniards, Brazilians, and Spanish speaking Latin Americans usually understand one another quite well. And portunhol, a form of code-switching, has far more users in the Americas (but is not to be confused with the portunhol spoken on the borders of Brazil with Uruguay and Paraguay, which is a Portuguese dialect heavily influenced by Spanish rather than code-switching).
The closest language to Portuguese is Galician, spoken in the autonomous community of Galicia (northwestern Spain). The two were at one time a single language, known today as Galician-Portuguese, but since the political separation of Portugal from Galicia they have diverged, especially in pronunciation and vocabulary. But there is still a linguistic continuity, the variant of Galician referred to as "galego-português baixo-limiao" spoken in several Galician villages between the municipalities of Entrimo and Lobios and the transborder region of the natural park of Peneda-Gerês/Xurês. "Considered a rarity, a living vestige of the medieval language that ranged from Cantabria to Mondego [...]". As reported by UNESCO, due to the pressure of the Spanish language in the standard official version of the Galician language, the Galician language was in the verge of disappearing. According to Unesco´s philologist Tapani Salminen, the proximity with the Portuguese language makes Galician a special language that is protected due to its proximity to the Portuguese language. Nevertheless, the core vocabulary and grammar of Galician are still noticeably closer to Portuguese than to those of Spanish. In particular, like Portuguese, it uses the future subjunctive, the personal infinitive, and the synthetic pluperfect. Mutual intelligibility (estimated at 90% by R. A. Hall, Jr., 1989) is excellent between Galicians and northern Portuguese, and also between Galicians and Brazilians. Many linguists consider Galician to be a co-dialect of the Portuguese language. The government of Galicia has passed a law making the Portuguese language mandatory at all the school levels, intended to encourage the use of Portuguese at all levels of Galician society. Galicia will also become a full member of the CPLP (countries in the world that speak Portuguese).
Another member of the Galician-Portuguese group, most commonly thought of as a Galician dialect, is spoken in the Eonavian region in a western strip in Asturias and the westernmost parts of the provinces of León and Zamora, along the frontier with Galicia, between the Eo and Navia rivers (or more exactly Eo and Frexulfe rivers). It is called eonaviego or gallego-asturiano by its speakers.
The Fala language, known by its speakers as xalimés, mañegu, a fala de Xálima and chapurráu and in Portuguese as a fala de Xálima, a fala da Estremadura, o galego da Estremadura, valego ou galaico-estremenho, is another descendant of Galician-Portuguese, spoken by a small number of people in the Spanish towns of Valverde del Fresno (Valverdi du Fresnu), Eljas (As Ellas) and San Martín de Trevejo (Sa Martín de Trevellu) in the autonomous community of Extremadura, near the border with Portugal.
There is a number of other places in Spain in which the native language of the common people is a descendant of the Galician-Portuguese group, such as La Alamedilla, Cedillo (Cedilho), Herrera de Alcántara (Ferreira de Alcântara) and Olivenza (Olivença), but in these municipalities, what is spoken is actually Portuguese, not disputed as such in the mainstream.
It should be noticed that the diversity of dialects of the Portuguese language is known since the time of medieval Portuguese-Galician language when it coexisted with the Lusitanian-Mozarabic dialect, spoken in the south of Portugal. The dialectal diversity becomes more evident in the work of Fernão de Oliveira, in the Grammatica da Lingoagem Portuguesa, (1536), where he remarks that the people of Portuguese regions of Beira, Alentejo, Estremadura, and Entre Douro e Minho, all speak differently from each other. Also Contador de Argote (1725) distinguishes three main varieties of dialects: the local dialects, the dialects of time, and of profession (work jargon). Of local dialects he highlights five main dialects: the dialect of Estremadura, of Entre Douro e Minho, of Beyra, of Algarve and of Trás os Montes. He also makes reference to the overseas dialects, the rustic dialects, the poetic dialect and that of prose.
In the kingdom of Portugal, "Ladinho" (or "Lingoagem Ladinha") was the name given to the pure Portuguese language romance, without any mixture of Aravia or Gerigonça Judenga. While the term "língua vulgar" was used to name the language before D. Dinis decided to call it "Portuguese language", the erudite version used and known as Galician-Portuguese (the language of the Portuguese court) and all other Portuguese dialects were spoken at the same time. In a historical perspective the Portuguese language was never just one dialect. Just like today there is a standard Portuguese (actually two) among the several dialects of Portuguese, in the past there was Galician-Portuguese as the "standard", coexisting with other dialects.
Portuguese has provided loanwords to many languages, such as Indonesian, Manado Malay, Malayalam, Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhalese, Malay, Bengali, English, Hindi, Swahili, Afrikaans, Konkani, Marathi, Tetum, Xitsonga, Papiamentu, Japanese, Lanc-Patuá (spoken in northern Brazil), Esan and Sranan Tongo (spoken in Suriname). It left a strong influence on the língua brasílica, a Tupi–Guarani language, which was the most widely spoken in Brazil until the 18th century, and on the language spoken around Sikka in Flores Island, Indonesia. In nearby Larantuka, Portuguese is used for prayers in Holy Week rituals. The Japanese–Portuguese dictionary Nippo Jisho (1603) was the first dictionary of Japanese in a European language, a product of Jesuit missionary activity in Japan. Building on the work of earlier Portuguese missionaries, the Dictionarium Anamiticum, Lusitanum et Latinum (Annamite–Portuguese–Latin dictionary) of Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) introduced the modern orthography of Vietnamese, which is based on the orthography of 17th-century Portuguese. The Romanization of Chinese was also influenced by the Portuguese language (among others), particularly regarding Chinese surnames; one example is Mei. During 1583–88 Italian Jesuits Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci created a Portuguese–Chinese dictionary—the first ever European–Chinese dictionary.
Beginning in the 16th century, the extensive contacts between Portuguese travelers and settlers, African and Asian slaves, and local populations led to the appearance of many pidgins with varying amounts of Portuguese influence. As each of these pidgins became the mother tongue of succeeding generations, they evolved into fully fledged creole languages, which remained in use in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America until the 18th century. Some Portuguese-based or Portuguese-influenced creoles are still spoken today, by over 3 million people worldwide, especially people of partial Portuguese ancestry.
Portuguese phonology is similar to those of languages such as Catalan, French (especially that of Quebec), the Gallo-Italic languages, Occitan and Franco-Provençal, unlike that of Spanish, similar to those of Sardinian and Southern Italian dialects. Many describe the phonology of Portuguese as a blend of Spanish, French and Italian.
There is a maximum of 9 oral vowels and 19 consonants, though some varieties of the language have fewer phonemes (Brazilian Portuguese is usually analyzed as having 8 oral vowels). There are also five nasal vowels, which some linguists regard as allophones of the oral vowels, ten oral diphthongs, and five nasal diphthongs. In total, Brazilian Portuguese has 13 vowel phonemes.
To the seven vowels of Vulgar Latin, European Portuguese has added two near central vowels, one of which tends to be elided in rapid speech, like the e caduc of French ([ɯ̽], but commonly represented as /ɨ/). The functional load of these two additional vowels is very low. The high vowels /e o/ and the low vowels /ɛ ɔ/ are four distinct phonemes, and they alternate in various forms of apophony.
Like Catalan, Portuguese uses vowel quality to contrast stressed syllables with unstressed syllables: isolated vowels tend to be raised, and in some cases centralized, when unstressed. Brazilian Portuguese, nevertheless, tends to contrast vowel height of unstressed vowels in different ways in relation to other national variants, so more vowel allophones may arise, while [a] and [ɐ] occur in a complementary distribution to which dialects disagree. Nasal diphthongs occur mostly at the ends of words and have [ɪ̯̃] and [ʊ̯̃] as non-syllabic elements in the Brazilian dialects where [ɪ] and [ʊ] are present.
|Close||i ĩ||u ũ|
|Near-close||(ɪ ~ ɪ̃)||(ɯ̟) (ʊ ~ ʊ̃)|
|Mid||ẽ i.e. ẽ̞ (e̞)||ə ~ ɐ
ə̃ ~ ɐ̃
|õ i.e. õ̞ (o̞)|
The consonant inventory of Portuguese is fairly conservative. The medieval affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ merged with the fricatives /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, respectively, but not with each other, and there have been no other significant changes to the consonant phonemes since then. However, some notable dialectal variants and allophones have appeared, among which:
|Original||IPA (Lisbon)||IPA (Rio de Janeiro)||IPA (São Paulo)||IPA (Santiago de Compostela)||Translation|
|Sustentava contra ele Vénus bela,||suɕtẽˈtavə ˈkõtɾə ˈeɫɨ ˈvɛnuʑ ˈβɛɫə||suɕtẽ̞ˈtavə ˈkõtɾə ˈeɫi ˈvẽnuʑ ˈbɛɫə||sustẽ̞ˈtava ˈkõtɾa ˈeli ˈvenuz ˈbɛla||sustenˈtaβa ˈkontɾa ˈel ˈβɛnuz ˈβɛla||Held against him the beautiful Venus|
|Afeiçoada à gente Lusitana,||əfəjˈswaðaː ˈʒẽtɨ̥ ɫuziˈtɐnə||əfejsuˈaðaː ˈʑẽtɕi̥ ɫuziˈtɜ̃nə||afejsoˈada a ˈʑẽtɕɪ̥ luziˈtʌna||afejθoˈaðaː ˈʃente lusiˈtana||So fond of the Lusitanian people,|
|Por quantas qualidades via nela||puɾ ˈkwɐ̃təɕ kwəɫiˈðaðɨʑ ˈviə ˈnɛɫə||puʀ ˈkwɜ̃təɕ kwəɫiˈdadʑiʑ ˈviə ˈnɛɫə||pʊɾ ˈkwʌⁿtas kwaliˈdadʑiz ˈvia ˈnɛla||poɾ ˈkantas kwaliˈðaðez ˈβia ˈnɛla||For the many qualities he saw in her|
|Da antiga tão amada sua Romana;||də̃ˈtiɣə ˈtɐ̃w̃ əˈmaðə ˈsuə ʁuˈmɐnə||dɐˀɜ̃ˈtɕiɣə tɜ̃w̃ ɐ̃ˈmaðə ˈsuə ʁo̞ˈmɜ̃nə||da ʌⁿ'tɕiga ˈtʌwⁿ aˈmada ˈswa ɦoˈmʌna||danˈtiɣa ˈtaŋ aˈmaða ˈsua roˈmana||that reminded her of his dear old Rome;|
|Nos fortes corações,
na grande estrela,
|nuɕ ˈfɔɾtɨ̥ɕ kuɾəˈsõj̃ɕ
|nuɕ ˈfɔxtɕi̥ɕ ko̞ɾɐˈsõj̃ɕ
|nʊs ˈfɔɾtɕɪ̥s koɾaˈsoiⁿs
|nos ˈfɔɾtes koɾaˈθons
|In their stout hearts, in the great star|
|Que mostraram na terra Tingitana,||kɨ̥ muɕˈtɾaɾə̃w̃ nə ˈtɛʁə tĩʒiˈtɐnə||ki̥ mo̞ɕˈtɾaɾɜ̃w̃ nɐ ˈtɛʁə tɕĩʑiˈtɜ̃nə||kɪ̥ mosˈtɾaɾʌwⁿ na ˈtɛɦa tɕĩʑiˈtʌna||ke mosˈtɾaɾaŋ na ˈtɛra tin̠ʃiˈtana||that they displayed in the land of Tangiers,|
|E na língua, na qual quando imagina,||i nə ˈɫĩɡwə nə ˈkwaɫ ˈkwɐ̃dwiməˈʒinə||i nɐ̞ ˈɫĩɡwə nɐ̞ ˈkwaw ˈkwɜ̃dwĩməˈʑĩnə||i na ˈlĩɡwa na ˈkwaʊ̯ kwʌⁿdwimaˈʑina||e na ˈliŋɡwa na ˈkal ˈkando jmaˈʃina||And the language, which if you think of it|
|Com pouca corrupção crê que é a Latina.||kõ ˈpokə kuʁupˈsɐ̃w̃ ˈkɾe kiˈɛ ə ɫəˈtinə||kũ ˈpowkɐ ko̞ʀupˈsɜ̃w̃ kɾe ˈkjɛ ə ɫəˈtɕĩnə||koⁿ ˈpoːka ko̞ʁup(i)ˈsʌwⁿ ˈkɾe ˈkjɛ ɐ laˈtɕĩna||kom ˈpowka korupˈθoŋ ˈkɾe ˈke ˈɛ a laˈtina||a little corrupted, you believe it to be Latin.|
A notable aspect of the grammar of Portuguese is the verb. Morphologically, more verbal inflections from classical Latin have been preserved by Portuguese than by any other major Romance language. The Portuguese and Spanish grammars are very close. It has also some innovations not found in other Romance languages (except Galician and the Fala):
|Portugal and non-1990 Agreement countries||Brazil and 1990 Agreement countries||translation|
|óptimo||ótimo||best, excellent, optimal|
Portuguese is written with 26 letters of the Latin script, making use of five diacritics to denote stress, vowel height, contraction, nasalization, and other sound changes (acute accent, grave accent, circumflex accent, tilde, and cedilla). Accented characters and digraphs are not counted as separate letters for collation purposes.
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