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Portuguese language reform law goes global

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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 07:26
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
This is going to be confusing May 20, 2015

How long is it going to take people to catch on to this reform? Some people are going to continue spelling the old way out of ignorance and others out of habit. One thing I don't like about this reform is that what used to be proper spelling is going to be wrong today. The Spanish Royal Academy also reforms spelling for Spanish. You see older people spelling words "the old way" (like "pié" instead of "pie"), but technically, these people are incorrect. In some ways, no matter how chaotic, I prefer English, my native language because it is not regulated by any official body.

[Edited at 2015-05-20 20:44 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Standardising brings a lot of good May 21, 2015

Personally I think it is an excellent project. In our case in Spanish, we never value enough the benefit of having a unified Spanish all over the world. We can communicate easily and correctly with any other speaker, and that is a benefit for all users.

The rules are agreed by all official academies or institutes of Spanish, who hold regular meetings to decide together upon the main rules. It is sensible, practical, and a benefit that keeps a language community alive and promotes cultural interchange.

Of course any change in something as sensitive and intimately personal as language brings some confusion for some time, but once the new conventions sink in, the benefits are enormous. To me, the same process should happen with English.


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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 12:26
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Latin roots are lost May 21, 2015

What I find disturbing is that the Portuguese language reform removes the latin roots of many words - it feels like leaving the language orphaned somehow. It introduces lots of silly homonyms (pato, fato etc.) and, as any language reform, just confuses the hell out of people. I really hate language reforms - they never seem to reduce problems, they just complicate life for everyone. I remember the German language reform - it was supposed to make the written language more "intuitive" - the hell it did.

I don't see why the Portuguese language has to be unified globally. What is the practical use of that? The English speaking world has AE, BE, and countless local varieties - it works just fine. I just can imagine what British or American citizens would say if someone was to "unify" their language...

Best regards,
Anna


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Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:26
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
I agree with Anna May 21, 2015

I currently live in Portugal and used to live in Brazil and don't see why they can't have two ways of spelling. I also dislike the fact that the roots of words are lost. "Facto" is a much better spelling than "fato" IMO, as "baptista" (not "batista"), optica (not "otica") etc, etc. Some words can be spelled both ways under the new rules, so why not all? Many prominent Portuguese writers, such as Miguel Tavares, refuse to use the new rules, and still get their books published (and, more importantly, read) in Brazil. I can only imagine how the Portuguese feel, essentially having been bullied by the bigger country into changing their native language which the bigger country (Brazil) adopted. As a British national, I would hate to have to spell "labor", "gray" "mold" "fetus" etc etc

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Suivez l'argent May 21, 2015

For lame francophones like me, the expression above means to trace the money trail. Here are a few paths:

1. Hard copy book publishers (and printers too) lost some considerable revenue to e-books. The reform imposed recycling myriad tons of books in stock at bookstores and in public libraries for paper, to replace them. Some chicken flight for these ailing businesses.

2. Software developers had twice the expense in developing spell checkers for Portuguese, as two of them were required. After the reform, they'll have the expense of developing only one spell checker for all PT variants, and the same income from selling it to all users.

3. Globalized companies had twice the expense to translate their web sites, product literature, etc. into each of the two PT variants. After the reform, they expected to have only one version for Portuguese.

4. An effect similar to #2 above would be expected by the movie/TV dubbing/subtitling industry as well: keeping the income stable, while halving the expense.

And the list could go on and on.

The reform in itself was devised, promoted, and effected by usually money-driven politicians. No, albeit likely, they are not always necessarily corrupt. The more profit any company has, the more taxes they can levy, the more funds available for the empowered ones to manipulate according to their intent while in office.

The big question: Is the unification from the reform workable? I don't think so.

Let's try to illustrate, by comparing Portuguese and Spanish. While most educated Brazilians can understand spoken Spanish to some extent, the reverse is not necessarily true: Spanish speakers have a hard time to get used to understanding BR Portuguese.

It took me years wondering about it, until a fellow translator from Colombia, I think, gave me the answer: PT has many sounds that simply don't exist in ES. The most typical being "ão", "ões", and the "z". So, for a "virgin" ES speaker, these sounds are merely "noise", they can't assemble them within words.

Talking about it with a JP-born Japanese language teacher, he acknowledged the phenomenon, by saying that he wouldn't be able to repeat a phrase in Korean, in a way that a KO speaker would understand it. He wasn't equipped with the sounds to do that.

I learned to speak ES by pure osmosis, while organizing several large business events in Brazil. Attendees came from the most varied ES-speaking countries, they had the aforementioned issue with Portuguese, so I eventually learned to speak some sort of pan-Hispanic mix with such fluency that it scares me every time I do it. Of course, I remain illiterate in ES.

The final outcome is that I - as a Brazilian - understand and get understood much, much better in Spanish - without any formal study - than across Portuguese variant borders.

Evidence of this is that whenever I am in contact with fellow translators from across the Atlantic, by mutual decision, we communicate in English! ... though according to both BR and PT Constitutions our national languages are one and the same.

So it is possible to draw the conclusion that this reform was imposed upon all PT speakers by politicians, exclusively for economic reasons.

Before the reform, I had put together a few of the most striking differences between PT and BR. After the reform, ALL of these - and many others - remain valid, especially the deadly #6 on that page.

So, what's the point? As they say, what's done is done. The reform has become irreversible now, thanks to language professionals having no political clout anywhere. We'll have to cope with this reform forever, hoping that in the future we'll elect more sensible and less money-driven politicians for our governments.


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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 12:26
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Estou ouvindo May 21, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

1. Hard copy book publishers (and printers too) lost some considerable revenue to e-books. The reform imposed recycling myriad tons of books in stock at bookstores and in public libraries for paper, to replace them. Some chicken flight for these ailing businesses.

2. Software developers had twice the expense in developing spell checkers for Portuguese, as two of them were required. After the reform, they'll have the expense of developing only one spell checker for all PT variants, and the same income from selling it to all users.

3. Globalized companies had twice the expense to translate their web sites, product literature, etc. into each of the two PT variants. After the reform, they expected to have only one version for Portuguese.

4. An effect similar to #2 above would be expected by the movie/TV dubbing/subtitling industry as well: keeping the income stable, while halving the expense.



Or so they think - but for me (and many others who are used to read and listen to European Portuguese) an expression like "Estou escrevendo essa carta..." will continue to make me cringe because it just sounds wrong to me (no offense intended!). Anyone truly wanting to communicate with audiences from different Portuguese speaking countries will still have to continue to offer localized versions of their contents. No orthography adjustment is going to fix that.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Estou a dizer... May 21, 2015

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

Or so they think - but for me (and many others who are used to read and listen to European Portuguese) an expression like "Estou escrevendo essa carta..." will continue to make me cringe because it just sounds wrong to me (no offense intended!). Anyone truly wanting to communicate with audiences from different Portuguese speaking countries will still have to continue to offer localized versions of their contents. No orthography adjustment is going to fix that.


The worse is that I recently read about some study predicting that in 200 years (why should we care?), BR and PT variants will be so far apart that speakers of one won't understand ANY of the other.

I had the idea that Rede Globo "novelas" would be disseminating PT-BR in Portugal, perhaps as an additional "language", so people there would not feel so strange about it.

Yet the "logic" barrier seems unsurmountable.

A polite Brazilian would ask:
"O Sr. pode me dizer as horas?" (Can you tell me what time it is?)

While another Brazilian would give them the expected answer, a Portuguese would candidly say:
"Certamente, pois tenho um relógio!" (Of course, since I have a watch!)

I am still on the lookout for any sensible explanation on how this difference in reason ever came to be. It's not language-related, but obviously cultural, and it failed to cross the Atlantic. As I put it, "in Portugal, words are taken strictly for their face value". To this regard, maybe I'll remain puzzled forever.

[Edited at 2015-05-21 12:18 GMT]


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oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 11:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Obrigada, Anna and Georgia May 21, 2015

Thank you, Anna and Georgia for understanding how the Portuguese feel about this pointless language reform.

The whole concept behind it is wrong from the onset.

How can you possibly justify that two colours, pink and orange that were written "cor-de-rosa" and "cor-de-laranja" are now written differently, but only in the case of orange, i.e. "cor-de-rosa" and "cor de laranja"? Where is the logic in this? How can people in general and those who use Portuguese as a tool, in particular, agree with such nonsense? This is only a simple example, but we could be here all day talking about how "pára" (stop) is now "para" (to); April now becomes april; and, of course, letters went missing (such as "c" and "p") from words that we now don't know how to read properly.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:26
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Not only May 21, 2015

Reed D James wrote:

Some people are going to continue spelling the old way out of ignorance and others out of habit.


Why such narrowing of the reasoning? I live in Portugal and have not yet met a single person who would be in favor of the new rules. Portuguese disagree not because of ignorance or habit but mostly because this arrangement is wrong - for its motives, for the way it was done and for it being wrong in its essence. Portuguese take this arrangement as profanation of their old and rich language.
They even have a new term: they ask if a document has to be written in "português" or "acordês".
Having Brazilian and Portuguese so many diferences between the two, I would allow their natural individual development rather than artificially trying to bring them together.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:26
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Silly homonyms? May 23, 2015

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

What I find disturbing is that the Portuguese language reform removes the latin roots of many words - it feels like leaving the language orphaned somehow. It introduces lots of silly homonyms (pato, fato etc.) and, as any language reform, just confuses the hell out of people. I really hate language reforms - they never seem to reduce problems, they just complicate life for everyone. I remember the German language reform - it was supposed to make the written language more "intuitive" - the hell it did.

I don't see why the Portuguese language has to be unified globally. What is the practical use of that? The English speaking world has AE, BE, and countless local varieties - it works just fine. I just can imagine what British or American citizens would say if someone was to "unify" their language...

Best regards,
Anna


As far as I know the words "facto" and "pacto" are maintained as are "fato" and "pato". There is no change whatsoever regarding these words...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The underlying truth May 23, 2015

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Personally I think it is an excellent project. In our case in Spanish, we never value enough the benefit of having a unified Spanish all over the world. We can communicate easily and correctly with any other speaker, and that is a benefit for all users.

The rules are agreed by all official academies or institutes of Spanish, who hold regular meetings to decide together upon the main rules. It is sensible, practical, and a benefit that keeps a language community alive and promotes cultural interchange.

Of course any change in something as sensitive and intimately personal as language brings some confusion for some time, but once the new conventions sink in, the benefits are enormous. To me, the same process should happen with English.


Tomás, I see you translate from Portuguese, so please watch this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_wIluG3yRs

ENTREVISTA-DENÚNCIA com o Lexicógrafo-Chefe da Academia Brasileira de Letras (ABL) na época da reforma ortográfica da língua portuguesa: Sergio De Carvalho Pachá.

Everybody else is invited too, of course.


There is a sidetracking issue involving BLAME.

I often see the Portuguese blaming Brazilians for that blasted reform, alleging that in view of population figures, Brazil championed that.

For the record, as a Brazilian, I'd like to state that I don't approve any of it at all, however I am forced to bow and assent, like any other unwanted government-imposed decree, something pretty common since the days of feudalism, like an increase in taxes.


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Danik 2014
Brazil
German to Portuguese
+ ...
With José Henrique May 25, 2015

The average Brazilian not only can´t be blamed for the orthographic reform, he often tries to evade it and sometimes he doesn´t even know all about it. I recently noticed that Portuguese peers write "perspetiva" and "aceção" (and words which follow similar rules) instead of perspectiva and acepção,the usual forms in Brazil. I thought these were Portuguese forms, but then I was told, no, they were using the new orthographic rules. I never had heard anything about these rules neither had some friends of mine which taught Portuguese and in Brazilian texts, these words continue to be written in the old way.
I am totally against orthographic reforms as they usually try to force language into artificial molds. As for the differences between pt-pt and pt-br I regard them as positive. At least in its language Brazil has become an independent country. And in a world where languages become increasingly globalized and similar, language differences are welcome as long as they relate to particular verbal roots, traditions and developments and are not the result of artificial rules.
It doesn´t matter if we say "Estou a dizer..." or "Estou dizendo", as long as we understand each other and don´t start a war about it.:)
Pronto, falei!


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:26
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Why this AO after all? May 25, 2015

So, I take normal people on both sides are against AO and this only proves once again how artificial it is. When Portuguese TV, couple years ago already, started showing "Direto" on the news, I used to rush to check whether I was on the right channel
"Diretiva", "perspetiva" is only for those trying to be "modern" or when forced to write this weird way. It often happens that I send a disabled translation along with a cover letter in usual Portuguese.


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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 12:26
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Relieved to not have to sign a duck... May 25, 2015

Teresa Borges wrote:

As far as I know the words "facto" and "pacto" are maintained as are "fato" and "pato". There is no change whatsoever regarding these words...


Oh, I see. You are correct, my mistake.


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:26
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Let's go back to pre-1971 Portuguese May 26, 2015

The big problem with the recent spelling reforms is the elimination of accent marks to indicate pronunciation. There is no way of knowing that "queijo" and "cinquenta" have different pronunciations for the QU group, while the old spelling "cinqüenta" made the pronunciation clear. The same with "ideia" and "odeia" and countless other words. This is a devastating process that started back in 1971.
The best solution is to go back to Portuguese as it was between 1943 and 1971, when there were many more accents (called 'differential accents') to solve this kind of problem, so everyone would know that 'sede' (thirst) is pronounced with a closed E (as it was spelt 'sêde') while 'sede' meaning seat (of a company) has an open E.
Another example: a newspaper headline "Corredor de ônibus para a Radial Leste" could be interpreted as either "Bus lane for the Radial Leste" (with a neutral or positive bias) or "Bus lane stops the Radial Leste' (in the sense that it worsens traffic) and someone would have to read the whole article to find which is intended. (Radial Leste is a major traffic artery in SP and has serious traffic congestion problems)


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Portuguese language reform law goes global

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