Portugal to reform the language in favor of Brazil?

mac   Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:54 am GMT
I found this interesting article. Has anyone heard about this? What do you think about it?


Portugal may have to recognise the inevitable by bowing to the economic and cultural predominance of Brazil, its former colony. The once proud imperial power is considering reforming its language to accommodate recent linguistic developments in the South American economic powerhouse, with which it shares a language.

However the proposed reform of the Portuguese language in favour of Brazilian usage has sparked a heated polemic among the Portuguese, with the distinguished poet Vasco Graça Moura leading the rearguard action. "There is no need for us to take a back seat to Brazil," he protests.

A more relaxed view of the proposed changes is taken by José Saramago, Portugal's only Nobel literature laureate, who recently infuriated compatriots by suggesting that Portugal become part of Spain. "We must get over this idea that we own the language," the 85-year-old said. "The language is owned by those who speak it, for better or for worse."

The proposal to be put before parliament on 15 May would standardise Portuguese around the world and change the spellings of hundreds of words in favour of the Brazilian versions. The measure is largely a response to commercial interests. But for the once proud imperial power, whose language is spoken by 230 million people worldwide, it is a blow to national pride comparable to Britons adopting American spellings and writing, say, "traveler" instead of "traveller".

The Portuguese modifications would match spellings to the way words are pronounced by removing silent consonants. Thus optimo (great) would become otimo, and accao (action) would become acao. The word humido (humid) would become umido. This might create problems when the new words already exist with a different meaning – for example facto (fact) would become fato: but in Portugal a fato is a suit.

Advocates say benefits include easier internet searches in Portuguese, and a uniform language for international contracts. Portugal's publishing industry, especially the lucrative school textbooks sector, stands to benefit enormously. And Portuguese officials hope the measure would advance an old ambition of getting Portuguese adopted as an official language at the UN.

Jose Socrates's Socialist government wants Portugal's politicians to ratify the spelling agreement with the world's seven other Portuguese-speaking countries: Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Principe. The letters k, w and y would be included in the Portuguese alphabet for the first time, to accommodate words like kilometro (kilometre) and kwanza, the Angolan currency.

The changes would affect some 2,000 words out of a Portuguese vocabulary of 110,000 words. But three quarters of the modifications would have to be adopted by Portugal, the mother country.

"The Portuguese don't like their language being changed any more than we would like ours," said the British writer Peter Sage, a longtime resident in Lisbon. "Portugal has lost its colonies, its power and its wealth, but at least it could pride itself on its linguistic influence in the Portuguese-speaking world."

But he said many people in Portugal were having to come to terms with the shifting of economic power in the Portuguese-speaking world. Today Brazil, which gained its independence from Portugal in 1822, is home to 190 million Portuguese speakers and is one of the world's big economic players. Portugal has a population of just 10.6 million.
mac   Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:55 am GMT
Apparently the reform passed and will go into effect. Could this help the international standing of Portuguese at all?

I hate spam   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:07 am GMT
So, Portuguese will become a more standardized and phonetic language internationally? (assuming it all works out) This is very interesting. It says that is started back in 1991 but was just voted on this year.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:23 am GMT
What???!! Why do they need 'k' 'w' and 'y'?????? What's wrong with writing 'quilómetro'? K is the ugliest letter in the Latin alphabet followed closely by 'w'! Spanish uses 'kilómetro' and it looks horrendous!
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:43 am GMT
Do you think the Portuguese people will actually adhere to it, or will it be like the ridiculous German reforms which no one cares about? Will it be law to write in that fashion or optional?
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:45 am GMT
No saben lo que hacen, la k es la letra de los descerebrados. ¿Tendremos también una kontrakultura en portugés? Qué asco...
Vilella   Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:15 am GMT
Portugal cannot reform Brazilian language.
We never spoke like Portuguese, and we'll never speak.
All Portuguese stuff is dubbed into Brazilian here anyways

Passar bem.

Lusophonia is just a Portuguese mith:

Michael   Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:59 pm GMT
Well if the Portuguese want to start speaking a mispronounced version of their language and give up their beautiful pronunciation, it's their choice. I certainly won't change the way I speak.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:54 pm GMT
Wow, portugal was once a great country; the richest and most powerfull in Europe.

...look how the mighty have fallen. look at what they have been reduced to.

its a damn shame.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:01 pm GMT
All countries rise and decline.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:51 pm GMT
Portugal still a developed country unlike Brazil, the same happens with Spain and its formet colonies.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:04 pm GMT
Portugal should have created a Academy of the language as did Spain -now it is facing its consequences. The end of Slavic-sounding portuguese? No. The end of its orthography. Yes.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:30 pm GMT
-Portugal still a developed country unlike Brazil-

São Paulo State is richer than Portugal.
Guest   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:31 pm GMT
''Portugal should have created a Academy of the language as did Spain -now it is facing its consequences.''

Brazil has its own Academy of the language, and it was created having a French Academy as a model, not the Portuguese Academy.
Kauan   Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:33 pm GMT
Portuguese has undergone many transformations, both in the mother country and in its former colony, since the language was first introduced into Brazil in the 16th century. Although the two countries have, from time to time, standardized their spelling so that the written word remains mutually intelligible, pronunciations, vocabularies, and the meanings of words have diverged so widely that, it has been said, it is easier for some Brazilians to understand films in Spanish from other Latin-American countries than those from Portugal. New words and expressions in Brazilian Portuguese have been introduced by Italians, Germans, Japanese, and other immigrants and from across the borders with Spanish-speaking countries. One notable example is the universal use in Brazil of tchau, for farewell, adopted from the Italian ciao. Other words have entered through contact with foreign products and technologies.

Some authorities, however, suggest that the greatest divergence of the Brazilian language from the Portuguese goes back to contact with the Indians. The principal language spoken by the tropical forest peoples of Brazil, Tupian, or Tupí-Guaraní, became the lingua franca between the natives and the Portuguese traders, missionaries, adventurers, and administrators; it continued to be used similarly in the Amazon and western Brazil until the 19th century. The Tupian influence in Brazilian place-names is overwhelming, and it is estimated that thousands of indigenous words and expressions have entered the Brazilian Portuguese language. More generally, as a result of the Tupian influence Brazilian Portuguese became more nasal than that of the homeland, and Brazilians generally speak more slowly, pronouncing all the vowels.''

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