By 2009, the Portuguese language was spoken by more than 210 million people and the number of Portuguese-speakers exceeded the number of French-speakers in the world. Seven countries have Portuguese as the official language, Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde Islands, Guinea- Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe Islands, Angola, and Mozambique. Overseas Portuguese, who number 4 million, reside in another two dozen countries and continue to speak Portuguese. There are distinct differences between Brazilian and Continental (Portugal) Portuguese in spelling, pronunciation, syntax, and grammar, but both versions comprise the same language.
   Next to Rumanian, Portuguese is the closest of the Romance languages to old Latin. Like Gallician, to which it is intimately linked as a colanguage, Portuguese is an outgrowth of Latin as spoken in ancient Hispanica. It began to appear as a distinct language separate from Latin and Castilian in the ninth century, and historic Portuguese made its full appearance during the 12th and 13th centuries. Major changes in the language came under the influence of Castilian in the ninth and 16th centuries, and there was a Castilianization of Portuguese culture during the 1580-1640 era of Spanish rule of Portugal and its empire.
   The cultural aspects of Portugal reasserting her sovereignty and restoring national independence was a reaction against Castile and Castilianization. In language, this meant that Portugal opened itself to foreign, but non-Hispanic influences. In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, French culture and French language became major influences enriching the Portuguese language. In international politics, there continued the impact of the Anglo- Portuguese Alliance, a connection that has been less cultural than political and economic. For all the centuries of English influence in Portugal since the late 14th century, it is interesting how little cultural influence occurred, at least until recently, and how relatively few words from English have entered the language. With the globalization of English, this began to change in the late 20th century, but there remain many more loan words from Arabic, French, and Italian.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.


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