Lusosphere: Reform in Portuguese Language Not Welcomed

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Jan 2 19:50:56 UTC 2009


*- Global Voices Online - http://globalvoicesonline.org -*

Lusosphere: Reform in Portuguese Language Not Welcomed

Posted By *Paula Góes* On 2009-01-01 @ 22:47 pm In *Americas*, *Angola*, *
Brazil*, *Cape Verde*, *General*, *Ideas*, *International Relations*, *
Language*, *Mozambique*, *Portugal*, *Portuguese*, *Sub-Saharan Africa*, *
Weblog*, *Western Europe* | *3
Comments<http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/01/lusosphere-reform-in-portuguese-language-not-welcomed/print/#comments_controls>
*

Described by Brazilian poet [1] Olavo
Bilac<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olavo_Bilac>as "the last flower of
[2]
Latium <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latium>, wild and beautiful", the
[3] Portuguese
language <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_language> is about to
change. As of 1st January 2009, the reform of its spelling begins to be
implemented in Brazil over a four year adaptation period until the new rules
are completely enforced. The same rules will eventually be implemented in
Portugal, where the changes will be phased during the next six years, and
also in the other 6 countries where Portuguese is [4] an official
language<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_where_Portuguese_is_an_official_language>:
Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and
Príncipe.

The latest [5] Portuguese orthographic
agreement<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Language_Orthographic_Agreement_of_1990>was
signed in 1990 by seven out of eight Portuguese speaking countries. It
intends to unify the two current orthographic standards and was meant to go
into effect after all signatory countries had ratified it. However, by the
end of the decade only Brazil, Cape Verde, and Portugal had done so,
although in Portugal the change was passed into law only in May 2008.
Brazil, which has nearly 80% of the Portuguese speakers in the world, is the
first to implement it.

The spelling changes will affect about 1.6% of the words in the European
norm (also adopted in Africa) and 0.5% in the Brazilian spelling. Across the
Lusophone world, many linguists, philologists, politicians, journalists,
writers, translators – and of course bloggers – do not quite understand the
need for, or agree with, the international treaty meant to improve the
language's international status through a single official orthography. The
debate is a heated one, but most bloggers seem to be on the same side.

*"A sign in both Chinese and Portuguese in Macau, China. Actually, "主教座堂辦公室"
(in Chinese) or "Cartório Da Sé" (in Portuguese) means "The Office of the
Cathedral." By [6]
Wikimedia<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Macau-Chinese%26Portugese.jpg>
.*

Starting with Portugal two petitions ([7]
1<http://www.petitiononline.com/acor1990/petition.html>and [8]
2 <http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/manifestolinguaportuguesa/>)
collecting thousands of signatures calling for the suspension of the
implementation are being evaluated by the National Assembly. There, the
reform is perceived as a "abraziliament" of the language with no real
advantage for the other countries. It is also claimed that the new spelling
rules disagree with the way the Portuguese people pronounce words. A
Portuguese citizen who has grown up in Macau, [9] Ricardo
José<http://www.ricardo.pt/diario/2008/07/o-meu-voto-nao-e-mais-secreto.html>[pt]
has taken an extreme decision:

Um país não é um hino ou um desenho numa bandeira. Um país é a sua língua e
é a sua cultura.

E se um conjunto de políticos se arroga o direito de interferir na língua
que é minha, contra aquilo que caracteriza a cultura dos cidadãos dum país,
servindo interesses que não os dos portugueses, então repudio-os, porque já
não são mais políticos de Portugal.

A partir de hoje e para sempre, se este acordo não tiver retrocesso, o meu
voto será sempre público e será sempre o mesmo: votarei em branco.

A country is not an anthem or a flag design. A country is its language and
culture. And if a group of politicians claims the right to interfere in a
language that is mine, against what characterizes the culture of the
citizens of a country, serving the interests of other [people] than the
Portuguese, then I reject them, because they are no longer politicians of
Portugal. From now on, if this agreement has no retreat, my vote will always
be public and will always be the same: I'll cast a blank vote.

In fact, for what has become known as Brazilian Portuguese, changes will be
kept to a minimum, and [10] some bloggers have adopted them
already<http://agentesdaeducacaoecultura.blogspot.com/2009/01/ano-novo-ortografia-nova.html>[pt].
However, the majority of people are not happy with the reform either.
A doctor of the Portuguese language, [11] Marcelo
Leite<http://falandodelingua.blogspot.com/2008/11/com-trema-sem-trema-continuamos.html>[pt],
for one, seems to agree with the views of the blogger above, adding
that the reform was an agreement which has much more to do with political
and economic interests than language issues.

Na verdade, fizemos a comunidade lusófona engolir a maioria das regras para
se unificar em nome de uma unidade lingüística que, assim como o Godot, de
Becket, fica sob uma árvore esperando. Podemos até escrever do mesmo jeito,
mas o que nos faz tão distantes, tão distintos não está na grafia das
palavras, mas em uma herança cultural que, fora a língua, nos separa por
mais de um oceano. E acho que essa diferença é que é o legal da coisa.

In fact, we have made the lusophone community swallow most of the rules to
unite in the name of a linguistic unity that, like Becket's [12]
Godot<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_Godot>,
have been waiting under a tree. We can write in the same way, but what makes
us so far apart, so different, is not so much in the spelling of words, but
in a cultural heritage that, language apart, separates us far more than an
ocean. And I think that this difference is the cool thing.

<http://pululu.blogspot.com/2008/10/quem-pode-manda.html>

[13] Eugênio Costa
Almeida<http://pululu.blogspot.com/2008/10/quem-pode-manda.html>[pt],
from Angola, agrees with the Brazilian blogger that a game of power is
at play and wonders how this reform can be implemented in language prolific
Africa:

Como será que a CPLP vai descalçar esta bota, bem apertada, quando há países
que ainda nem ratificaram a nova ortografia, como Angola e Moçambique, sendo
que o primeiro, ao contrário de Moçambique e Guiné-Bissau, já tem quase mais
falantes em português que nas próprias línguas nacionais.

How will the [14] CPLP <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPLP> [Community of
Portuguese Language Countries] take off these very tight boots, when there
are countries that have not yet ratified the new spelling, such as Angola
and Mozambique, considering that the first, unlike Mozambique and
Guinea-Bissau, has almost more Portuguese speakers than of their national
languages.

Talking about Mozambique, *[15]
Nyikiwa<http://nyikiwa.blogspot.com/2008/08/acordo-ortografico.html>
* [pt] thought that the country should stop models that much of the time are
not in line with their reality:

A questão do acordo ortográfico, quanto a mim mostra claramente que a
população não é consultada, nem ouvida. A população apenas serve para votar.
Na verdade quem ratifica os documentos quer a nível nacional, quer a nível
internacional são os dirigentes, que ignoram o facto de haver diversas
culturas e diversos comportamentos no seio de um povo que aparentemente é
homogéneo, quiça entre povos de diferentes culturas e comportamentos? Julgo
que está na hora de antes de se avançar para esse tipo de acordos, se
ausculte o povo e se faça ouvir suas ideias.

The spelling reform issue, I think, clearly shows that the population is
neither consulted nor heard. The population is only good to vote. In fact,
those who ratify documents, either at national level or international level,
are leaders who ignore the fact that there are different cultures and
different attitudes within a nation that is seemingly homogeneous, what
about between peoples of different cultures and behaviors? I think it is
time for, before moving on to such agreements, the people to be heard and
that their ideas are voiced.

*"– Here's to the spelling reform!
– Poor thing, he is dyslexic and is ever so happy with the multiple spelling
words. He says that he will never make a mistake again.*" A cartoon against
the agreement by [16] Foram-se os
Anéis<http://os-dedos.blogspot.com/2008/06/dedo-110-contra-o-acordo-ortogrfico.html>
.

[17] Virgílio Brandão<http://terra-longe.blogspot.com/2008/04/dead-ulei-deserto-da-namibia-frica.html>[pt],
from Cape Verde, is not too happy either - the blogger also says that
apart from Portugal and Brazil, the other Portuguese speaking countries had
no say in the process - as if "these other speakers did not exist":

Não existem senhores nem donos da língua; nem é preciso, em boa verdade, um
acordo ortográfico como o que se tenta impor às comunidades falantes do
português. Até porque, até me demonstrarem o contrário, a diversidade é um
bem estimável.

É por essa razão – para não estarmos presos a um desejado e sub-reptício
império da língua – que a língua cabo-verdiana deve ser implementada como
língua de trabalho ao nível internacional. Se somos independentes, que o
sejamos em tudo, caramba! Quem não tem coragem de fazer o que é preciso, que
dê lugar a quem tenha. É, para os cabo-verdianos, uma questão bem mais
importante do que aparentemente possa parecer.

There aren't misters or masters of the language; nor is it needed, truth be
told, a spelling agreement like the one trying to be imposed on Portuguese
speaking communities. Because, until I am shown the contrary, the diversity
is highly desirable. It is for that reason - for us not to be tied to a
desired and surreptitious empire of the language - that the Cape Verdean
language should be implemented as the working language at international
level. If we are independent, we should be so in everything, dammit! He who
does not have the courage to do what is needed, should give way to those who
have it. It is, for the Cape Verdean people, an issue far more important
than it may seem.

Portuguese is a Romance language originating in what is now Galicia and
northern Portugal. During the Portuguese colonial empire, the language
spanned around the world: from Brazil to Goa to Macau, in China, where it
still is one of the official languages. Nowadays, Portuguese ranks 6th in a
list of languages according to number of native speakers, which makes it one
of the world's major languages, with an estimated 240 million speakers in
[18] virtually every
continent<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_distribution_of_Portuguese>.
It is spoken by about 187 million people in South America, 17 million in
Africa, 12 million in Europe, 2 million in North America, and 0.61 million
in Asia.
 ------------------------------

Article printed from Global Voices Online: *http://globalvoicesonline.org*

URL to article: *
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/01/lusosphere-reform-in-portuguese-language-not-welcomed/
*

URLs in this post:
[1] Olavo Bilac: *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olavo_Bilac*
[2] Latium: *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latium*
[3] Portuguese language: *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_language*
[4] an official language: *
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_where_Portuguese_is_an_official_language
*
[5] Portuguese orthographic agreement: *
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Language_Orthographic_Agreement_of_1990
*
[6] Wikimedia: *
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Macau-Chinese%26Portugese.jpg*
[7] 1: *http://www.petitiononline.com/acor1990/petition.html*
[8] 2: *http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/manifestolinguaportuguesa/*
[9] Ricardo José: *
http://www.ricardo.pt/diario/2008/07/o-meu-voto-nao-e-mais-secreto.html*
[10] some bloggers have adopted them already: *
http://agentesdaeducacaoecultura.blogspot.com/2009/01/ano-novo-ortografia-nova.html
*
[11] Marcelo Leite: *
http://falandodelingua.blogspot.com/2008/11/com-trema-sem-trema-continuamos.html
*
[12] Godot: *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_Godot*
[13] Eugênio Costa Almeida: *
http://pululu.blogspot.com/2008/10/quem-pode-manda.html*
[14] CPLP: *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPLP*
[15] Nyikiwa: *http://nyikiwa.blogspot.com/2008/08/acordo-ortografico.html*
[16] Foram-se os Anéis: *
http://os-dedos.blogspot.com/2008/06/dedo-110-contra-o-acordo-ortogrfico.html
*
[17] Virgílio Brandão: *
http://terra-longe.blogspot.com/2008/04/dead-ulei-deserto-da-namibia-frica.html
*
[18] virtually every continent: *
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_distribution_of_Portuguese*

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/01/lusosphere-reform-in-portuguese-language-not-welcomed/print/
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