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Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese?

Brazilian as well as Portuguese linguists acknowledge the existence of differences in the languages of both countries.

The first theoretical document about the question of existence of a Brazilian language in Brazil was released in French by Visconte de Pedra Branca in 1824. Brazilian as well as Portuguese linguists acknowledge the existence of differences in the languages of both countries, but they don’t agree with the type of classification of these differences.

Even though the languages of Brazil and Portugal have the same name, there are distinct differences. This can especially be seen in the following example sentence “Actualmente o português não tem uma, mas duas ortografias”. This sentence would be correct in Portugal but not in Brazil. The standard Portuguese spelling is accepted in every Portuguese-speaking country but Brazil, which uses its own standard.

To avoid these different spellings a mutual agreement was ratified. The most important elements of the new orthography are listed below:

  • Silent consonants such as c and p are not written anymore. Acto becomes ato and baptismo becomes batismo.
  • K, Y and W are added to the alphabet and with this the alphabet consists of 26 letters.
  • Umlauts are no longer used for Portuguese words, exceptions are internationalisms such as Müller or Citroën.
  • The circumflex accent is no longer used for words with double o and double e.
  • The differential accent, which distinguishes a verb from a preposition, doesn’t exist anymore. As a result, the verb pára is written exactly like the preposition para.
  • Hyphens are not used anymore if the the second element of the word starts with the consonants r or s. Because of this new rule, consonants are now doubled: anti-semita becomes antissemita or contra-regra becomes contrarrega. Exceptions are words which prefix ends in r as in, for example, hiper-requintado.
  • Portugal keeps the acute accent with the stressed vowels e and o in front of the consonants m or n whereas in Brazil the circumflex accent is kept in the following words: académico/acadêmico, génio/gênio, fenómeno/fenômeno, bónus/bônus. 

The new agreement highlights the phonetic criteria and puts the etymological spelling on the back burner. When these regulations went into effect in both countries, 98% of the spellings of the Portuguese vocabulary were unified. The implementation has changed 1.6% of the European Portuguese vocabulary and 0.5% of the Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary.

The efforts of both countries for unification signify the existence of a single language that should be brought closer together. “The language of these two big countries is Portuguese, but we do have a matrix that will always be ours, our way of talking and writing,” Barbosa Lima Sobrinho is right in his assertion. The regional characteristics of both countries can clearly be seen in movies such as The Adventures of Captain Underpants (As Aventuras do Capitão Cueca in Brazil and As Aventuras do Capitão Cuecas in Portugal) 

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