domingo, 24 de janeiro de 2010

Portuguese people speak Portuguese

I am starting this blog aimed at telling the English-speaking community about bits of Portugal.

If there is one thing that characterises the Portuguese people quite well amongst their Old World counterparts, it is how their language unites them.

Virtually every single Portuguese citizen speaks Portuguese as their native tongue, with their parents, families, friends, when shopping, teaching, etc.

A few european countries have several mainstream national languages more or less evenly split, such as Belgium (with Flemish and French) or Switzerland (with German, French and Italian).

Almost every other European nation has one mainstream and officially recognised language natively spoken by the majority but also significant minorities natively speaking other languages. This is the case for Spain (Basque, Catalan and Galician), Finland (Swedish), Estonia (Russian), France (Alsatian, Arabic and Occitan), Romania (Hungarian), Germany (Turkish), UK (Scots, Gaelic, Welsh), and most others.

This is caused by the fact that historical geo-political events that define borders are out of sync with language evolution (e.g., Basque in Spain or Russian in Estonia) or due to immigration (e.g., Arabic in France).

So, the fact that the Portuguese language is virtually universal in Portugal arises from 2 facts:
-the Portuguese border is one of the oldest in Europe and the world
-most immigrants in Portugal come from Portuguese-speaking countries, and immigrants from non-Portuguese-speaking countries are very few and generally spread out

Although immigration from non-Portuguese-speaking countries is an increasing trend that may change the universal character of Portuguese in Portugal, the global reach of centralised media such as TV and music has actually been eroding local accents.

I leave you one of my favourite songs in Portuguese from 2008.

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