The Portuguese Language Orthographic (Dis)agreement

It has been one of the most controversial topics over the last decade in Portugal: The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement. 

Why? Well, imagine that you went to school and you were taught how to write in a way and then, when you are already a grown-up, you are told that from now on you’ll have to write in another. 

Back in 1990, it was signed the Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement between all the Portuguese speaking countries, except for East Timor which was occupied by Indonesia by then. The goal was to make the Portuguese language unified and look the same among all these countries (basically between Brazil and the others). But it took around 18 years for this agreement to have a practical effect in Portugal when in 2008, orthographic changes were signed into law. 

However, the changes implemented didn’t unify European and Brazilian Portuguese the way it has been idealized. Most people in Portugal, kept writing the “old fashioned way” and consciously refused to change their orthography, claiming that this agreement was mostly favoring the Brazilian Portuguese to the detriment of European Portuguese.

Of course, this agreement does not simply affect the European Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese also suffered some transformations to achieve this common orthography agreement, but both were still kept different in many aspects. So, not only the result of this agreement was quite unsatisfactory from the mutual orthography point of view, as people didn’t receive it well.

Currently, the parliament, language specialists and petitioners are facing an existential crisis regarding this topic and we can’t tell yet if the orthographic agreement is going to be revised, changed or even annulled – what is certain though is that the kids will keep learning post-agreement Portuguese at schools while most of their parents will keep denying those changes by saying: “I will keep writing the way I was taught”. 

I, for instance, will keep using and teaching pre-agreement Portuguese, however, there might be a couple of words that I already unconsciously use from the post-agreement. It might just get out of control.

And you? What do you think of the idea of unifying the Portuguese language? Leave your comments and if you are interested in getting to know what has changed on this Orthographic Agreement, click on the link below:

Click here to check what the “Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement” has changed.

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