Origin of the Portuguese Language

The Popularity of the Portuguese Language

Portuguese is a Romance language that came from Galician-Portuguese, which was used in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia. It is one of the major languages of the world and an official language of the European Union, the Organization of American States, the African Union, and Lusophone countries. Roughly 272.9 million people speak Portuguese. It is now the fifth-most spoken language in the world, the third-most spoken language in the Western Hemisphere, and the most spoken in the Southern Hemisphere.

The History of Portuguese

The Portuguese language originated from Latin in the Western Iberian Peninsula. Roman soldiers and colonists introduced Latin in 216 BCE. The language extended to other regions by Roman soldiers, settlers, and merchants. When the Roman Empire collapsed in Western Europe, the Iberian Peninsula was taken over by Germanic peoples (Migration Period). This occurred between 409 and 711 CE. After the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, Vulgar Latin replaced almost every local language. Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin that formed Romance languages. In the territories along the Atlantic coast, it slowly became what is known as the Galician-Portuguese language. This language divided into Galician and Portuguese branches after the merging of Galicia into Spain.

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The Development

Documents from the 9th century are the first records of a specifically Portuguese language. These documents still had Latin phrases scattered within them. In the Galician-Portuguese Period (from the 12th to the 14th century), Portuguese slowly began to be used more often. It was considered to be the language of choice for lyric poetry in Christian Hispania. In 1139, Portugal became an independent kingdom from the Kingdom of León. In 1290, the first Portuguese university in Lisbon established by king Denis of Portugal. At this time, it was ordered that Portuguese (then called the "common language") should be called the Portuguese language and used officially.

The Later Years

In the second period of Old Portuguese (between the 14th and the 16th centuries), the Portuguese language reached many parts of Asia, Africa, and The Americas. This was due to new Portuguese discoveries. Currently, the majority of those who speak Portuguese reside in Brazil.

By the 16th century, Portuguese had become a lingua franca in Asia and Africa. A lingua franca is defined as a language that is used to make communication possible. It was used for colonial administration and trade. It also acted as a tool for communication between local officials and Europeans of all nationalities. The language was very common in Asian regions until the 19th century. Its popularity occurred in spite of the great efforts of the Dutch to get rid of it in Ceylon and Indonesia.

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