Back to the spelling reform

Recovering the subject of our post on the new Portuguese spelling reform, in this post I will try to keep you abreast of the latest updates 2016 brings about.

As of January, 1st, 2016 the number of Portuguese speakers officially using the new spelling reform has risen to 215 million: 204 million from Brazil alone, 10,3 million from Portugal and 512 thousand from Cape Verde (which has been officially using the new spelling since last October). Although Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau have ratified the agreement, they still don’t have a fixed date for its official implementation.

In spite of cooperating actively to the elaboration of the Common Orthographic Vocabulary, and of being the Portuguese speaking country which made the highest financial contribution to the creation of a digital vocabulary platform, Angola hasn’t ratified the new reform so far. Consequently, it hasn’t been officially approved at any governmental level, according to Marisa Guião de Mendonça, CEO of the International Portuguese Language Institute (IILP). The reason for that lies in the fact that Angola has been asking to include some loans from other national languages. In fact, apart from Portuguese, there are six other national languages in Angola, and the vocabulary should include such native diversity.

On the contrary, in line with the same source, the implementation of the agreement in São Tomé and Príncipe has been running “seamlessly“, and a visit by Marisa Guião de Mendonça is scheduled for early 2016, in order to make out in loco how far the process has been carried out.

In Timor-Leste, on the other hand, local authorities seem to have defined a different priority regarding linguistic issues: the spreading and usage of the Portuguese language throughout the population. Although Portuguese is the official language, the majority of the Timorese people rather speak other national languages, such as Tetum. Therefore, the greatest concern right now is the sound implantation of the language at a broader level, regardless of its version.

Obviously each country is progressing at its own pace, and as we all know languages do not evolve by decree. In particular, in the case of the Portuguese language, which is spoken in eight countries but spread through four continents, a handful of different levels, numerous customs and diverse perspectives have to be considered. Just think of it as a beautiful typical Portuguese tile panel!

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Portuguese Spelling Reform

Acordo LP
The gradual adaptation to the new Portuguese spelling reform (AO90) started in May 2009. That was the reason that took me 4 months to Brazil back then, in order to better understand the idiosyncrasies of our language overseas.
All 8 Portuguese speaking countries have signed the reform, only Angola did not ratify it so far. Officially, it should be implemented everywhere by 2015/2016, after a 6-year transition period.
This week, on May 13th, the reform came into force, only in Portugal so far. Unfortunately, it is not consensual and although it is official, not everyone agrees with its use. On the contrary, in Brazil, where it shall come into force next January, a colleague who works for the Brazilian Presidency informed me that it has been in use since 2009 without further ado. The fact that the changes in the Brazilian version imply only 0,5% of the words, whereas in Portugal this figure is approx. threefold may be a good reason for that.

The important information I wish you to keep is that, no matter whether the reform is accepted or not, please do not expect to have one version only. There will always be differences between the Afro-European and the Brazilian Portuguese versions!

So far we have been working according to the client’s wishes, i.e., with / without the reform, for Brazil or for Portugal. In your place, I would inform clients that the reform is now official in Portugal, but please do keep asking them whether they need the translation for Portugal or for Brazil, and according to the new or the old reform.
In order to keep abreast of the evolution of the spelling reform — and also to qualify as a Proofreader to help you implement the so-called Four-Eye-Check — in June I will be finishing the course Advanced Studies in Text Revision and Editing at the Universidade Católica in Lisbon.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information.