12 Languages

12.14 Portuguese

12.14.1 Introduction

Brazilian Portuguese differs considerably in spelling, pronunciation, and syntax from that of Portugal, far more so than US English differs from British English. Attempts to achieve agreement on spelling have not been very successful, and important differences in practice have been indicated below. In contrast to the case in English, differences of spelling and pronunciation generally go hand in hand.

12.14.2 Alphabet and spelling

The letters k, w, and y are used only in loanwords. Apart from rr and ss, double consonants are confined to European Portuguese: acção ‘action, share’, accionista ‘shareholder’, comummente ‘commonly’, in Brazilian Portuguese ação, acionista, comumente. Several other consonant groups have been simplified in Brazilian Portuguese: acto, amnistía, excepção, óptico, súbdito (= subject of a king), subtil are ato, anistia, exceção, ótico, súdito, sutil.

In Brazilian Portuguese the numbers 16, 17, and 19 are spelled dezesseis, dezessete, dezenove in contrast to European Portuguese deza-; 14 may be quatorze beside catorze.

There are also many differences of vocabulary and idiom, such as frequent omission of the definite article after todo ‘every’ and before possessives.

12.14.3 Accents

European Portuguese uses four written accents on vowels: acute, grave, circumflex, and tilde (til in Portuguese); Brazilian Portuguese also uses the diaeresis. The acute may be used on any vowel; the grave only on a; the circumflex on a, e, and o; the tilde on a and o. The diaeresis is used on u between q/g and e/i to show that the vowel is pronounced separately.

Normal stress is unaccented; abnormal stress is accented. The rules of accentuation are complex, and cannot be fully described in a work of this type. Normal stress falls on the penultimate syllable in words ending in -a, -am, -as, -e, -em, -ens, -es, -o, -os; in all other cases (including words in ) the stress falls on the final syllable.

Note the use of the circumflex in words like circunstância, paciência, and cômputo, where m or n with a consonant follows the accented vowel. In Brazilian Portuguese the circumflex is also used when m or n is followed by a vowel: Nêmesis, helênico, cômodo, sônico. European Portuguese generally has an acute accent, so Némesis, helénico, cómodo, sónico. Thus we have António in European Portuguese but Antônio in Brazilian Portuguese; editors should ensure that any such names are correctly spelled according to their bearers’ nationality.

12.14.4 Punctuation

The inverted question marks and exclamation marks which are characteristic of Spanish are not normally used in Portuguese.

12.14.5 Word division

Take over ch, lh, nh, and b, c, d, f, g, p, t, v followed by l or r; divide rr, ss, also sc, sç. Otherwise divide at obvious prefixes such as auto-, extra-, supra-, etc. When a word is divided at a pre-existing hyphen, repeat the hyphen at the beginning of the next line: dar-lho is divided dar- -lho.

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