How logical is the Portuguese spelling

Spelling reform in Portuguese

Do you remember the spelling reform of 1996, after which “Schifffahrt” is now written with a three f? A similar reform has now been made Portuguese overtakes

The "acordo ortográfico" was decided in 1990 by the Comunidade dos Países da Língua Portuguesa (CPLP, Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries). In Brazil, the reform came into force in 2009. In Portugal, on the other hand, a petition collected over 120,000 signatures against the reform. Since the opponents of the reform included numerous well-known politicians, writers and translators, this delayed ratification and the reform did not come into force until January 1, 2012. The new spelling rules affect around 220 million people in eight countries around the world.

The main points concern:

  • Upper / lower case, e.g. Janeiro becomes janeiro (for January)
  • Abolition of the tremas and other diacritical marks, e.g. vôo becomes voo (for flight)
  • Change of diphthongs, jóia becomes joia (for jewelry)
  • No hyphens, e.g. fim-de-semana becomes fim de semana (for weekends)
  • Deletion of silent consonants, e.g. correcto becomes correto (for correct)

190 million Brazilians make up over 80% of Portuguese native speakers. It therefore seems logical that the reform should primarily be based on the Brazilian variant. The Portuguese now have to write around 1.6% of their vocabulary differently, while the Brazilians only have to rethink 0.45%. However, this “Brazilianization” is viewed with skepticism by European and African Portuguese speakers: after all, Portugal, with its 10 million inhabitants, always saw itself as the highest authority when it came to correct use of the language. And although the reform has now been decided, many Portuguese are still hesitant to implement it. And who can blame them? In Germany in particular, we still remember exactly how many battles were fought over the spelling reform before the new rules were finally approved and introduced. The Portuguese were given until 2015 to get used to it.

If the standardization works, nothing stands in the way of the major goal of being included in the circle of official UN languages. The new spelling is gradually being introduced in the media. Newspapers such as Expresso, Sol or Record are already appearing in the new form. It will certainly take some time before the new spelling is also adopted in dictionaries and textbooks.

During the transition phase, The Translation People offers both options.