Evolution of the Portuguese Language

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What language influenced Portuguese in terms of lexicon during the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula?


What was the first Portuguese university created by King Diniz in 1290?

University of Coimbra

Which Romance language is spoken more than Portuguese?


What is the name of the period in which Portuguese literature began to appear?

Medieval period

What is the name of the standardization of the Portuguese language propelled by the development of the printing press?

Portuguese Standardization

What is the name of the vowel that Brazilian Portuguese retains in its 8-oral-vowel system, but European and African varieties innovated by creating a 9th new vowel?


What is the name of the process of inserting a sound to break up a sequence of vowels?


What is the name of the consonant cluster that was simplified in Portuguese?


What is the name of the phoneme that evolved as [v] in Portuguese?


Study Notes

Evolution of the Portuguese Language:

  • Portuguese developed from Latin spoken by Roman soldiers and colonists in the Western Iberian Peninsula starting in the 3rd century BC.

  • Old Portuguese, also known as Medieval Galician, began to diverge from other Romance languages after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and started appearing in written documents around the 9th century.

  • By the 13th century, Galician-Portuguese had its own literature and began to split into two languages.

  • Portuguese is essentially the result of an organic evolution of Vulgar Latin with some influences from other languages.

  • The arrival of the ancient Romans in 218 BC brought Latin to the Iberian Peninsula, which was spread by arriving Roman soldiers, settlers and merchants.

  • Between AD 409 and 711, Germanic tribes invaded the Iberian Peninsula, largely absorbing the Roman culture and language of the peninsula.

  • From 711, with the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, Arabic was adopted as the administrative language in the conquered regions, influencing Portuguese in terms of lexicon.

  • The oldest surviving records containing written Galician-Portuguese are documents from the 9th century.

  • The lyric period of Portuguese began in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia and was employed by poets from throughout the non-Basque medieval Christian kingdoms of the peninsula.

  • Portugal was formally recognized as an independent kingdom in 1143 and in 1290, King Diniz created the first Portuguese university and decreed that the "Vulgar language" should be known as the "Portuguese language".

  • Portuguese is the second most spoken Romance language, behind Spanish, and has been made an official language of Mozambique, Angola, the Cape Verde Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, East Timor and Macao.

  • The standardization of the Portuguese language was propelled by the development of the printing press, with the first Portuguese grammar published in 1536 by Fernão de Oliveira.Evolution of Portuguese Phonology

  • Brazilian Portuguese retains an 8-oral-vowel system, but European and African varieties innovated by creating a 9th new vowel: /ɨ/.

  • Palatalization of voiceless stops occurred where the consonants [k] and [t] assimilated with the high vowels [e] and [i], and with the semivowel [j].

  • Consonants [l] and [n] assimilated with the semivowel [j], producing the palatals lh [ʎ] and nh [ɲ].

  • Some consonants evolved with voiceless stops becoming voiced stops and voiced stops becoming voiced fricatives in certain positions.

  • Consonant clusters, especially long (geminate) consonants, were simplified.

  • Phoneme /b/ evolved as [v].

  • The consonants [l] and [n] of Vulgar Latin were deleted between vowels, after which sometimes the vowels around them coalesced, or an epenthetic semivowel was introduced between them.

  • Medieval Galician-Portuguese, /m/ and /n/ between vowels or at the end of a syllable became the velar nasal phoneme /ŋ/.

  • The history of nasal vowels in hiatus with a previous or following vowel is complex.

  • The insertion of a sound to break up a sequence of vowels is called epenthesis.

  • The sound written ⟨v⟩ was at one point during the medieval period pronounced as a voiced bilabial fricative [β].

  • Final unstressed /a/ was subsequently raised to /ɐ/.

  • Portuguese traditionally had two alveolar rhotic consonants: a flap /ɾ/ and trill /r/.

Test your knowledge on the evolution of the Portuguese language with this informative quiz. Discover the origins of Portuguese, from Latin spoken by Roman soldiers to the influence of Arabic during the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Learn about the development of phonology in different varieties of Portuguese, including the creation of a new vowel and the palatalization of consonants. With questions on historical events and linguistic transformations, this quiz is perfect for language enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

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