2.2. The Romanic period
Although the Iberian Peninsula was inhabited a long time before the
Roman occupation, very few traces of the languages spoken by the
people that lived there can be found in modern Portuguese.
The Portuguese language, that originated from spoken Latin,
developed on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula as part of the
Roman province of Lusitania in the area currently known as Portugal
and Galicia. From the year the Romans invaded the peninsula in 218 BC
up until the ninth century, the language spoken in the region was
known as Romance, a variant of Latin that was an intermediary point
between vulgar Latin and the modern Romance languages such as
Portuguese, Spanish and French.
Between the years 409 and 711 AD, Germanic people settled in the
Iberian Peninsula. The effect of these migrations on the spoken
language throughout the Peninsula however was not uniform, leading to
greater regional variation. Yet the language's essential uniformity
would last a while longer before its break up into separate languages,
with influences from the period still alive today in terms such as
roubar (to steal), guerrear (to wage war) and
With the Moorish Invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711, Arabic
was adopted as the official language in the conquered regions, even
though the common people continued to speak Romance. Arroz
(rice), alface (carrot), alicate (pliers) and
refém (hostage) are just a few of the Arabic contributions to
the Portuguese vocabulary from that era being using today.
The appearance of the first Latin-Portuguese documents would come
to pass between the ninth and eleventh centuries, marking this period
as one of linguistic transition. Certain Portuguese terms appeared in
these mainly Latin texts, but Portuguese, or more precisely its
antecedent, Galician-Portuguese, remained an unwritten language spoken
only in Lusitania.