A Romance language spoken in Portugal and most of its former colonies,
including Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and East Timor.
With 199 million native speakers, Portuguese is the sixth most popular
mother-tongue language in the world, and the second Romance language,
outnumbered only by
Portuguese is nicknamed A língua de Camões (after Luís de Camões, the author
of The Lusiad); and A última flor do Lácio ("The last flower of Latium").
The Portuguese language was spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries
as Portugal created the first and the longest lived modern-world colonial
and commercial empire (1415 - 1975), spanning from Brazil in the Americas to
Macau in China and Japan. As a result of that expansion, Portuguese is now
the official language of several independent countries, and is widely spoken
or studied as a second language in many others. There are still more than 20
Portuguese Creole languages. It is an important minority language in
Andorra, Luxembourg, Namibia and South Africa. Large Portuguese-speaking
immigrant communities exist in many cities around the world, e.g. Paris in
France, Boston, New Jersey, California and Miami in the USA.
Portuguese developed in the Western Iberian Peninsula from the spoken
language brought there by Roman soldiers and colonist starting in the 3rd
century BC. The language began to differentiate itself from other Romance
languages after the fall of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions in
the 5th century. It started to be used in written documents around the 9th
century, and by the 15th century it had become a mature language with a rich
The Romans conquered the Western Iberian Peninsula, later the Roman province
of Lusitania, currently Portugal and Galicia (region of Spain) in 218 BC,
and brought with them a popular version of
Latin, the Vulgar Latin from
which all Romance languages descend. Almost 90% of the Portuguese lexicon
comes from Latin. although the Iberian Peninsula was inhabited since well
before the Roman colonization, very few traces of the native languages
persist in modern Portuguese.
Portuguese has obvious similaries also with
Italian and with other
Romance languages. Speakers of other Romance languages may find a
peculiarity in the conjugating of certain apparently infinitive verbs. In
particular, when constructing a future tense or conditional tense expression
involving an indirect object pronoun, the pronoun is placed between the verb
stem and the verb ending. For example, Dupondt said trazer-vos-emos o vosso
ceptro. Translating as literally as possible, this is "bring (stem)-to you
(formal)-we (future) the your sceptre". In
English we would say, "We will
bring you your sceptre." The form Nós vos traremos o vosso ceptro. is also
correct, although less common in Portugal, but more common in Brazil.
The CPLP or Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries is an international
organization consisting of the eight independent countries which have
Portuguese as an official language. Portuguese is also an official language
of the European Union, Mercosul and the African Union (bwing one of the
working languages) and a one of the official languages of other
organizations. Except for the Asian territories (East Timor and Macau),
Portuguese is the sole official language in each country.
The differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese
varieties are in vocabulary, pronunciation and syntax, especially in popular
varieties, while between upper-class Brazilians these differences ease
largely. The differences are less than those between American
English. Both varieties are undoubtedly dialects of the same
language and speakers from both varieties can easily understand each other.
Portuguese is written using the Latin alphabet with 26 letters. Three of
them (K, W and Y) are only used for non-Portuguese origin words, in terms
like Darwinismo (Darwinism, from English "Darwin").