The Portuguese language is spoken by over 240 million people worldwide. It is the official language spoken in countries such as Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Macau, Sao Tome and Principe, East Timor among many other smaller islands. It is also spoken in parts of India including the regions of Goa, Daman and Diu. The expansion of the Portuguese language into Asia is not as wide as it has been into South America and Africa. However, it is currently the 6th most spoken language in the world. In Latin America it plays second to Spanish as the most spoken tongue. Just over thirty percent of the population speak Portuguese. All speakers of Portuguese are referred to as a Lusophone.
Portuguese is controlled around the world by its international governing body also known as the Instituto Internacional de Língua Portuguesa Comunidade Portuguesa dos Países of Língua. People who speak the language often say it is a cross between French and Spanish. Native speakers often find they can understand little bits of both with more ease than other Romance languages. However, it is a language entirely unto its own that is full of a rich spoken and written history that date back to the Middle Ages.
Portuguese is classified as a Indo-Romance language as it derives from Latin like many other European languages. It originated from the Iberian Peninsula in the second century B.C. The language began as a slang spoken amongst soldiers, travellers and merchants settled in far out Roman trading posts. As Rome began to fall, Germanic tribes took over Iberia. There are traces of this influence found in the language today. Eventually, the Moors settled in the area. Despite their strong presence, the Arabic influences of the language is only slightly found in vocabulary.
The earliest known recording of Portuguese was in the 9th century. With the rise of Portugal as a major kingdom, the language become more widespread. It became the official language at the end of the 13th century. As Portugal started to explore the world, the language was brought to Africa. It became the official communicating language for people from a variety of nationalities on the African continent a the time.
Today there are over 38 countries that belong to the Portuguese spoken community. There are also many dialects found in the language depending on the location of the speaker. As a result, dialects are divided into two subcategories according to where it comes from- Brazil or Portugal. These dialects are used both in formal and everyday situations.
The language is written with the Roman alphabet with a few specific diacritics necessary for the languages such as ã or a similar O. There are also spelling variations between the dialects. For example, Portugal did not use the letters K, W and Y until the end of the 20th century. The Portuguese alphabet now has a total of twenty-six letters. As a result, the spellings between the Brazilian and Portuguese dialects vary.
Portuguese has been reformed in the past twenty years in hopes to make it more universal. There was a treaty signed by all of the countries that list it as an official language. The idea was to make spelling similar for speakers of different dialects. This is so that people can communicate better across a variety of platforms including the internet. As a result, Portuguese hopes to become 7th official language of the United Nations. It is already listed as an official language of the European Union. However, as the language grows and expands across the globe, it should also be recognized by the world's governing body.
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