Language facts: Portuguese and its spelling reform

Portuguese is the official language of Portugal and Brazil, a number of African nations, as well as an official EU language. Portuguese is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia (Spain) and northern Portugal. It is derived from the Latin language spoken by the Romanized Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula around 2,000 years ago. The language spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial and commercial empire. It is one of the world's major languages, ranked 6th according to number of native speakers (approx 180 million). Together with Spanish, Portuguese is the fastest growing language in Europe. 

One language, two separate spellings

After the Portuguese Republic was established in 1911, a lot of efforts were put into standardisation of Portugal's orthography, for a very noble reason of increasing literacy of its people. It's rather interesting that unlike French and Spanish, Portuguese actually had no official spelling until 1911, and people literally wrote at will. After the new standard became official in Portugal, it was adopted also in the (then Portuguese) overseas territories of Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Moçambique, São Tomé and Príncipe,Guinea-Bissau, Macau, and Portuguese-controlled Indian territories.

However, the country with most Portuguese native speakers in the world, Brazil, was never consulted about the 1911 reform, and thus did not accept it. After decades-long negotiations, Brazil finally introduced its own orthography in 1938, based on an agreement with Portugal from 1931 that defined the general orthographic principles.

Nevertheless, it soon became apparent that the orthographies, albeit similar, were not identical. In some cases, there was different spelling between the two language variants due to differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese pronunciation.

In 1990 (sic!), after a series of failed negotiations, The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement was reached. Ratified in 2004 in Brazil and in 2008 in Portugal, the Agreement has been mandatory since January 1st, 2015 in all Portuguese-speaking nations in the world.

Stark reality, however, suggests the two countries have not managed to meet the goal of merging their languages. The peoples of Brazil and Portugal still use different words and expressions for the same ideas, concepts and things. Especially in technical translation, where idioma is very active, the expressions differ. Despite the good intent of the language reform mediators, it is indeed difficult to make two countries merge into a common language and apply it 100%. Brazil and Portugal are still not there, and all the other other Portuguese enclaves are probably even further afar, many of them, like Moçambique, taking in loanwords from neighboring countries.

Alphabet

Portuguese uses 23 letters of the Latin alphabet with five types of diacritics, as Portuguese also recognizes Á, Â, Ã, À, Ç, É, Ê, Í, Ó, Ô, Õ, Ú. These are not regarded as independent letters and do not have separate entries in dictionaries. 

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V X ZAdobeStock 118004314

a b c d e f g h i j l m n o p q r s t u v x z

idioma earns ISO 9001:2016 Certification by TÜV SÜD

On May 17th, 2017, our Prague office and production center, together with its office in Tokyo, was certified for its quality management system as being compliant with the extensive requirements in the ISO 9001:2016 standard. The certificate was awarded by the local Czech subsidiary of the TÜV SÜD accreditation body. This award affirms idioma’s high quality standing against this most recent ISO 9001 version of the standard with even stricter requirements. 

The approval process to obtain this certification has been ongoing since the beginning of the year. “While we have covered a wide range of topics related to our processes as an international language service provider, surprisingly we already had many measures in place that met and even went beyond the requirements on quality management,” says General Manager Jan Valenta. “Our offices are connected by an in-house developed intranet system that also manages job flows, receives orders placed online by clients and makes sure nothing fails in the translation processes. The auditors were actually surprised at some of the implemented quality measures in this system,” he adds. 

idioma has long been emphasizing quality as a key feature of its translation services. In its sales and development efforts, kaizen is an important principle whereby there is a continuous quest for improvement. “It is such a fundamental attitude that if something goes wrong once, you fix it, and even when you know something works well, you should still consider whether it can be done better and more efficiently. This is our general approach in everything we do and the reason why the translation and QA tools we have developed work so well. Becoming ISO 9001 certified affirms this policy.” says company spokesman John O'Connor. 

The company, however, has no plans to rest on its laurels. On the contrary it plans to step up its sales efforts, especially to potential clients where ISO 9001 certification is a mandatory requirement. In the past two years, the company was ranked among Asia’s Top 30 Language Service Providers by CSA Research. Marketing Manager Romana Olexova has new plans for growth: “The language industry is undergoing rapid change, but with ISO 9001 certification in our hands and backed up by our official registration for the DIN EN ISO 17100 translation standard, we stand much stronger with proven quality management. The certifications reaffirm our strong position on quality to our clients, who will appreciate our drive to only deliver the best in terms of professional translation by humans.”

Language facts: Serbian

Serbian is a member of the South Slavic group of languages and is the official language of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are about 6.5 million speakers of the language in Serbia, and also 500,000 speakers in Montenegro plus 1.6 million speakers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian is also recognized as a minority language in Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czechia (partly due to immigration during the Balkan war in the 1990s).

War of languages

Serbian language actually shares it's base with Serbo-Croatian, the official language of former Yugoslavia, from which also Standard Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin were derived. During the existence of the socialist Yugoslavian federation, there was a fierce emphasis on the "One Language" policy pursued by the federal government. This language policy was in line with the general "Unification" policy of Yugoslavia, aiming for suppression of the historical division lines between the regions, as well as nationalistic tendencies in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. In fact, the now-accepted stand-alone languages in the separate national states of the former Yugoslavian federation were considered merely regional variants of the same Serbo-Croatian language that simply served to "enrich" the constitutional version. 

After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 90s and the ensuing war, the language differences became one of the subjects of the conflict between the former federal nations and one of the biggest symbols for individual national identities.

Alphabet

Serbian is the only European language that practically uses two different writing systems, and can be written in both the Serbian Cyrillic script and Serbian Latin. Both writing systems were promoted in Yugoslavia. The Cyrillic script has official status under the 2006 Constitution of Serbia, but the Latin script continues to gain ground as a result of its popularity among the business community and urban population. The basic principle of Serbian is “Write as you speak and read as it is written”. 

Cyrillic

А Б В Г Д Ђ Е Ж З И Ј К Л Љ М Н Њ О П Р С Т Ћ У Ф Х Ц Ч Џ Ш

а б в г д ђ е ж з и ј к л љ м н њ о п р с т ћ у ф х ц ч џ ш

Latin

A B C Č Ć D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž

a b c č ć d dž đ e f g h i j k l lj m n nj o p r s š t u v z ž

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