Voice Over Sydney: Portuguese Language

Voice over Sydney: Portuguese is one of the major languages of the world (the sixth most spoken language worldwide), spoken by about 200 million people on four continents. It belongs to a group of languages called “Romance” or “Neo-Latin” that evolved from Latin, the language of Latium in Ancient Italy, or more specifically, the city of Rome.

Voice Over Sydney: Roman Invasion and Latin

After the Roman invasion, Latin gradually became established in the Iberian peninsula and finally replaced the native languages. When the country of Portugal was founded, it adopted its own particular Romance, which was essentially Portuguese, as the national language. Further to the north, the region of Galicia (Spain) where the same Romance was spoken, remained politically subjugated to the kingdom of Leon and Castile, and even today Galician remains a regional dialect, under the official hegemony of Spanish.

Voice Over Sydney: Portuguese and Latin

There was always great regional variation in Latin vocabulary, depending on each region’s position with respect to Rome. The Iberian provinces were somewhat on the sidelines, and did not receive many of the lexical changes that were constantly created in Rome by the urban masses’ need for expression. Portuguese and Spanish maintain, for example, the traditional Latin verb comedere (comer in both Portuguese and Spanish), meaning “to eat”, while Italy and France adopted the new term manducare, which became mangiare and manger.

Voice Over Sydney: Portuguese and Spanish

Another example is the Latin word for “cheese” (caseus), from which developed the Portuguese queijo and Spanish queso. In France and Italy however, caseus was replaced by formaticus, derived from forma, which was connected with a new process of making cheese. From this term evolved the French fromage, and Italian fromaggio. Factors like these explain why Portuguese and Castilian (Spanish) are the most similar of all the Romance languages.