The Romantic Period
The Portuguese language, which evolved from spoken Latin, developed on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula
(now Portugal and the Spanish province of Galicia) included in the province the Romans called Lusitania. When the
Romans invaded the peninsula in 218 B.C., the people living in the region adopted Latin, the Roman's language. From
then until the ninth century, all spoke Romance, a language representing an intermediate stage between vulgar or
common Latin and modern Latin languages, which include Portuguese, Castilian, French and Galician.
From 409 AD to 711, the Portuguese vocabulary adopted many new words used by invading Germanic tribes. Among these
were roubar (to steal), guerrear (to wage war), and branco (white). The effects of the Germanic migrations on the
spoken language was not uniform and broke the linguistic uniformity of the peninsula. Over a period of time, this
rupture led to a differentiation of the regional languages.
Beginning in 711, when the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula, Arabic became the official language, although
the vast majority of the population continued to speak Romance. Arabic words that entered the Portuguese language
during the Moor occupation included arroz (rice), alface (lettuce), alicate (pliers), and refém (hostage).
The period between the ninth century, when Latin-Portuguese documents first appeared, and the 11th century is
considered one of linguistic transition. A few Portuguese words appear in local Latin texts, but Portuguese (more
specifically Galician-Portuguese, its forerunner) was spoken only in Lusitania.
The Galician-Portuguese language
When Christians started to reconquer the peninsula in the XIth century, the Arabs were expelled to the South,
where the contact between Arabic and Latin created the Mozarabic dialects. Galician-Portuguese became the spoken
and written language of Lusitania. The first regional official documents and literary texts that were not in
Latin were written in Galician-Portuguese. These included the Cancioneiros (collections of medieval poems) da
Ajuda, da Vaticana and Colocci-Brancutti , now in Lisbon's National Library.
As the Christians advanced southward, the northern dialects interacted with the Mozarabic dialects of the South,
producing a Portuguese which was different from the Galician-Portuguese. The separation between the Galician and
Portuguese languages, which began with Portugal's independence in 1185, was consolidated after the Moors were
expelled in 1249, and also by the defeat in 1385 of the Castilians, who sought unsuccessfully to conquer Portugal.
The literary prose in Portuguese appeared in the 14th century, with Crónica Geral de Espanha (1344), and Livro
de Linhagens (Book of Lineages), by Dom Pedro, Count of Barcelona.
Between the 14th and 16th centuries, when Portugal established an overseas empire, the Portuguese language was
heard in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Under regional influences, it absorbed words like jangada (raft), of Malay
origin, and chá (tea), of Chinese origin. During the Renaissance, the inclusion of Italian expressions as well as
erudite Greek words made Portuguese a more complex and malleable language. The publication of Cancioneiro Geral de
Garcia de Resende in 1516 marked the end of this period of consolidation in which Archaic Portuguese was used.
Portuguese entered its modern phase in the 16th century when the first grammars defined Portuguese morphology
and syntax. When Luis de Camões wrote Os Lusíadas, in 1572, the language was already close to its current structure
of phrases and morphology. From then on, linguistic changes have been minor. When Portugal was under the domination
of Spain, from 1580 to 1640, Castilian words such as bobo (fool) and granizo (hail) were absorbed into the language.
French influence during the eighteenth century changed the Portuguese spoken in the homeland, making it different
from the Portuguese spoken in the colonies.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Portuguese vocabulary absorbed new contributions. Words of Greco-Latin
origin, reflecting technological advances, were added to the language. Such words included automóvel (car) and
televisão (television). This was followed by English technical words from medical, astronautical, and computer
sciences, such as checkup and software. The onrush of new words led to the creation in 1990 of a commission of
representatives of the various Portuguese-speaking countries. Its goal was to create a uniform technical vocabulary
and avoid the confusion that was occurring when different words were used to describe the same objects.