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< The Pre-Romanic period The Galician-Portuguese language >

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 branco (white).

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.

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