<ã> The Portuguese language
Version to print  Português 
< The Portuguese language throughout the world Portuguese in Europe >

3.1. The Lusophone world

Across the vast yet split up area in which Portuguese is spoken throughout the world, its pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, as with all living languages, varies to differing degrees from region to region. Such differences however have not compromised the essential unity of Portuguese. Despite the spread of the language within Europe and more markedly throughout the rest of the world, Portuguese has managed to maintain a high level of cohesion between its varieties.

The regional characteristics that a language often acquires over time may render it a dialect. Some linguists also distinguish between a speech and a dialect:

  • Dialects are considered to be complete linguistic systems originating from a particular language, alive or dead. They are normally found within a set geographical range and are not strongly separated from other sets of dialects originating from the same language. Expressed another way, dialects are considered to be formed whenever a grammatical structure is being used that is not distinct enough to that of its related language to be considered completely separate from it.
  • Speachs, on the other hand, are deemed to be an expressive peculiarity used within a particular region that does not reach a level of systematic coherence that a dialect would. They are thought to consist of a less extensive set of differences than what dialects feature and, having distinguished themselves from the written language, are only expressed orally.

In light of the difficulty of categorising the regional differences that a language may take on, we will use in this text the term dialect to refer to the collection of linguistic peculiarities found within a given area, without taking into consideration how greatly these peculiarities differ from what is considered the standard language.

In the study of the forms that the Portuguese language has taken on, it is necessary to distinguish between its dialects and creoles, especially in the regions of Africa, Asia and Oceania where it is spoken. The Portuguese creoles are a result of the contact that the Portuguese language had from the fifteenth century with the indigenous languages that it encountered throughout the world. At present, these creoles have differentiated themselves from standard Portuguese to such a degree that, unlike dialects, they are considered to be separate languages derived from Portuguese.

< The Portuguese language throughout the world Portuguese in Europe >
Copyright 2001-2006 Adelardo A. D. Medeiros
All rights reserved
This site is generously hosted by the DCA-UFRN
Last updated: Feb/09/2006