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Origins of the Portuguese language

"My homeland is my language" - Fernando Pessoa - Portuguese poet

The Portuguese language developed in the Western Iberian Peninsula from Latin brought there by Roman soldiers and colonists starting in the 3rd century BC. Old Portuguese, also known as Galician-Portuguese, began to diverge from other Romance languages after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions in the 5th century and started appearing in written documents around the 9th century. By the 13th century Galician-Portuguese had become a mature language with its own literature and began to split into two languages. In all aspects—phonology, morphology, lexicon and syntax—Portuguese is essentially the result of an organic evolution of Vulgar Latin with some influences from other languages.

Arriving on the Iberian Peninsula in 218 BC, the ancient Romans brought with them Latin, from which all Romance languages descend. The language was spread by arriving Roman soldiers, settlers and merchants, who built Roman cities mostly near the settlements of previous civilizations. Later, the inhabitants of the cities of Lusitania and rest of Romanized Iberia were recognized as citizens of Rome.

Vulgar Latin (which should not be viewed as "slang Latin," but as a separate language in its own right) which were brought to the Roman provinces by legionaries. Outside of the city of Rome itself, and the surrounding areas, virtually no one spoke the "proper" Latin of Cicero, or Virgil.

Iberian Romance

Between AD 409 and 711, as the Roman Empire was collapsing, the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by peoples of Germanic origin, known by the Romans as Barbarians. The Barbarians largely absorbed the Roman culture and language of the peninsula; however, since the Roman schools and administration were closed and Europe entered the Dark Ages, the Vulgar Latin language of ordinary people was left free to evolve on its own and the uniformity of the language across the Iberian Peninsula broke down. In the north-western part of the Peninsula (today's Northern Portugal and Galicia), Vulgar Latin began gaining a growing number of local characteristics, leading to the formation of what linguists today call Galician-Portuguese.

"Latin" actually continued to be the official language of the Kingdom of Portugal (remember that these people had no real knowledge of the Latin with which you may be acquainted) until sometime near to the close of the Early Middle Ages, until one Portuguese king, in an effort to foster a unique Portuguese identity, finally recognized the language as a new entity.

From 711, with the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, Arabic was adopted as the administrative language in the conquered regions. However, much of the population continued to speak the Latin derived Romance dialects, called collectively by modern linguists Mozarabic.

"Modern Portuguese" developed from the early 16th century to the present. During the Renaissance, scholars and writers borrowed many words from classical Latin and ancient Greek, which increased the complexity of the Portuguese lexicon. As with most European vernacular languages, the standardization of the Portuguese language was propelled by the development of the printing press.

In the second period of Old Portuguese, covers the time from the 14th and the 16th centuries and is marked by the Portuguese discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries. In that time, colonisers, traders and missionaries spread the Portuguese language to many regions in Africa, Asia and The Americas. Today most Portuguese speakers live in Brazil, the biggest former colony of Portugal. By the mid 16th century Portuguese had become a lingua franca in Asia and Africa, used not only for colonial administration and trade but also for communication between local officials and Europeans of all nationalities.

Sources: Wikipedia and different sites and books

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