What did the new Orthographic Agreement change in the Portuguese language

Time changes us and so does change our languages. 

In 2008, it was implemented in Portugal the new Orthography Agreement foreseen since 1990. The goal was to unify the Portuguese speaking countries when it comes to the orthography of their mutual language. 

This agreement signed in 1990, involved all the countries of the CPLP (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa): Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and Saint Tomé and Principe; except for East Timor as it was occupied by Indonesia at the time. 

Click here to read more about the “Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement”

But what has changed? How was it before and how is it now?

Well, let’s find out!

We can divide those changes into five topics:

  • The alphabet
  • Capital / small letters
  • Mute consonants
  • Accents
  • Hyphen

Alphabet:

In the pure Portuguese language, so to speak, no words are using the letters: K, Y, and W. So before the Orthographic Agreement, the Portuguese alphabet only included 23 letters. However, due to the need for usage of units of measure, technological acronyms, and foreignisms, it was quite common to use those letters. To make those letters, let’s say, “legal” to use, they were now included in the Portuguese alphabet, making it reach 26 letters. 

This doesn’t change virtually anything as Portuguese speakers will continue to write “quilo” while using the diminutive for it: “Kg”. 

Capital / small letters:

Before the agreement, the days of the week, months, seasons and cardinal directions were written with a capital letter on the beginning of the word. Now they are not anymore.

Mute consonants:

There was a whole bunch of words with mute consonants which were removed by the Orthographic Agreement. Some examples of this change are:

Accents:

The conjugations of the verbs in the third person of the plural ending in -êem, lose the circumflex and start being written as -eem.

Apart from this change, also names ending in -óia lose the accent on which the ending becomes simply -oia.

Other cases when words lose their accents are:

Hyphen:

The case of the hyphens it’s the most complex one. The usage of hyphens in Portuguese is quite common and the changes in the new Orthographic Agreement affect a lot of words, however not all of them. I could write a few posts just to explain the changes on this topic, but I’ll just give you a small example of words which have lost the usage of hyphens:

This is a sum-up of all the changes that Portuguese from Portugal faced since the implementation of the new Orthographic Agreement. I want to mention that those examples are given from the point of view of Portuguese from Portugal and not include specific changes that occurred in the Portuguese from Brazil such as the extermination of the ü.

I really hope that this post was useful for you to understand the changes that the sexy Portuguese language has been suffering recently. Stay tuned for more!

Source of information: https://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Curriculo/Acordo_Ortografico/documentos/o_novo_ao_0.pdf

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