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Useful Notes / Portuguese Language

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"Última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela,
És, a um tempo, esplendor e sepultura."

Portuguese is, at least in terms of native speakers, the seventh most spoken language in the world, the second most spoken Romance language, and the most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an Ibero-Romance language, and closely related to Spanish.

Originally spoken in Portugal, it spread throughout the world with the Portuguese Empire and is now the official language of nine different countries in four different continents, with Brazil being the major Portuguese-speaking country, having more native Portuguese speakers than all the other countries combined. Being no small language, dialectal differences abound, the main variety is Brazilian Portuguese, which in turn has its own set of dialects.

A modern-day debate is whether Galician, native to the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia (just north of Portugal), is a different albeit very closely related language or just another variety of Portuguese (see The Galician-Portuguese debate below).


Portuguese nouns aren’t much more complicated than in English. They only inflect in number and gender, and that’s it. Plural formation is pretty straightforward, even though there are several plural endings (all of them involving the addition of an s) the rules for them are very regular. The only exception are nouns ending in –ão (like, cão, dog), which have three possible plural endings, but even those aren’t really that irregular.

Gender is a bit harder, but not as much as in some other languages, like German. All nouns are either masculine or feminine, and guessing then might be a bit tricky. As rule of thumb, nouns ending in –o (like braço, arm) are masculine, and nouns ending in –a (like cadeira, chair) are feminine. For nouns with other endings, you mostly have to learn by heart. A good trick is to learn the noun with its definite article (o being the masculine article, and a the feminine), since it always agrees in gender with the noun; so a flor (the flower) is feminine, and o amor (love) is masculine. Other words that also agree in grammatical gender with the noun, like adjectives, numerals and adjective pronouns note  can also help to identify a noun's gender; in Esta atividade é muito divertida (this activity is very fun), it is possible to know that atividade (activity) is a feminine noun because the demonstrative pronoun esta (this) and the adjective divertida (fun) are also feminine.

Finally, many nouns denoting humans and some animals agree with the person or animal’s sex, so menino (boy) is masculine and menina (girl) is feminine, for example. Nevertheless some nouns denoting people and most nouns denoting animal species have fixed genders. The word criança (child) is always feminine regardless of the child’s sex, and so is the word girafa (giraffe). Some other nouns have a fixed form regardless of the subject's sex, but show their gender through modifiers in the sentence, like adjectives and articles. So, the word estudante (student), can agree in both genders without changing form, but o estudante is always masculine, and a estudante is always feminine. Also, when a noun denotes a group with masculine and feminine individuals, it takes the masculine gender. So os gatos means either the (male) cats or the (male and female) cats, while as gatas means only the (female) cats.


They kind of behave similarly to English, but there are some notable differences. There’s also a great deal variation between dialects concerning their use. The main personal pronouns are:

  • eu ~ I
  • tu/você ~ you
  • ele/ela ~ he/she/it
  • nós/a gente ~ we
  • vós/vocês ~ you (plural)
  • eles/elas ~ they

As with most other Romance languages, subject pronouns are often omitted. Unlike other Romance languages, so are object pronouns. Brazilian Portuguese tends to omit subject pronouns much less often, while omitting objects more.

Traditionally, tu is the informal pronoun, the pronoun used when talking to friends and relatives, while você is a semi-formal pronoun. That’s still true for most of the Portuguese-speaking world. However, several Brazilian dialects (though certainly not all) have dropped the pronoun tu, and use você (or a variation of it) even in completely informal situations. Typically, the “informal você" dialects are mostly found in the Southeast and Midwest regions of Brazil, in the North, Northeast, and South, the pronoun tu is still used a lot in informal situations.

As for the pronoun vós, nowadays the only places where this pronoun is still used are parts of northern Portugal, although mostly by older people. Everywhere else, it has fallen out use, and the pronoun vocês is used instead. It’s only used in extremely formal situations, for archaism, and in the church.

Portuguese also has a second set of treatment pronouns: o senhor, for males, a senhora for females, and their plural counterparts, os senhores and as senhoras. Those are more formal than você and vocês, and are generally used when talking to older people, superiors, and teachers. These pronouns are rather tricky to use though, and some people might even be offended by them, so, in any case, sticking to você might be the best choice whenever you feel uncertain. (In Portugal, however, the elderly and purists will actually consider você to be rude, and indeed it can be sometimes used in a contemptuous way.)

Another interesting trend is using the noun phrase a gente (literally, the people) with the meaning of we. (The more purist however consider this use incorrect and will immediately throw at you the dictum agente é da polícia - "[an] agent is of the police" - making a pun between the noun agente and the noun phrase a gente, pronounced in exactly the same way.) This is very similar to the way the pronoun on is often used in French (to the point that a gente is also inflected in the third person singular).


This class is by far the hardest to master for anyone studying Portuguese. A typical Portuguese verb can take the insane amount of about 50 different forms to indicate person, tense, mood, and aspect. Some verbs like deixar even carry multiple meanings so you have to very careful to understand the differences to avoid misspeaking with someone.

There are three conjugation classes, each one having quite a number of irregular verbs. The first verb conjugation is composed of verbs that have their infinitives ending in –ar, the second is composed of verbs with –er endings, and the third is composed of infinitives ending in –ir. To give you a glimpse of how conjugation works in Portuguese, here are three regular verbs corresponding to each conjugating class: cantar (to sing), beber (to drink), and partir (to part), conjugated in the present tense of the indicative mood:

  • eu: canto, bebo, parto
  • tu: cantas, bebes, partes
  • ele/ela/vocênote : canta, bebe, parte
  • nós: cantamos, bebemos, partimos
  • vós: cantais, bebeis, partis
  • eles/elas/vocêsnote : cantam, bebem, partem

There are five true verb tenses, and if you were to count compound tenses too the list would probably go up to twenty. There are also up to four moods the Indicative (o Indicativo), the Subjunctive (o Subjuntivo/Conjuntivo), the Imperative (o Imperativo), and Condicional (o Condicional/Futuro do Pretérito). All of that means that Portuguese verbs can carry a lot of information through conjugation alone. Let’s take a look at some of those pesky tenses and moods, shall we?

  • Indicativo (Indicative):
    • Presente (Present): Likely the most common tense, it’s pretty much the same as in English. Portuguese also has a continuous construction, which behaves similarly to the one found in English, but is not used as often. Ex: Eu compro um livro (I buy a book).
    • Pretérito Perfeito (Simple Past): A past tense, it’s generally used when the action happened once in the past, or, as grammar books usually say, “an action that began in the past, and ended in the past”. It corresponds to both the Simple Past and the Perfect. Ex: Eu comprei um livro (I bought a book/I have bought a book).
    • Pretérito Imperfeito (Imperfect Past): Another past tense, but with a different aspect. This tense is used for something that happened repeated times or continuously in the past. It’s sometimes translated into English as “used to X”. It may also, sometimes, correspond to the Past Continuous. Ex: Eu comprava um livro (I used to buy a book/I was buying a book); Eu estava comprando um livro (I was buying a book).
    • Futuro (Future): Nothing new, it refers to actions taking place in the future. Like in English, there are several ways of doing so, with slightly different meanings. About four of them, to be precise. One simple and two compound constructions. The simple future tense is rarely used in the spoken language, where the construction ir + infinitive is preferred. Ex: Eu comprarei um livro; eu hei de comprar um livro; eu irei comprar um livro; eu vou comprar um livro (I will buy a book; I shall buy a book; I am going to buy a book).
    • Condicional/Futuro do Pretérito (Conditional): An interesting tense, it expresses an action that would or could happen if a certain condition were fulfilled. Sometimes it's considered a tense of the indicative, and sometimes a mood on its own. In some cases the Past Imperfect might, optionally, take its place. The equivalent in English would be the would + verb construction. Ex: Eu compraria um livro (I would buy a book).
    • Mais-que-perfeito (Pluperfect): Identical to English, it expresses something that had already happened before another already mentioned action did. Like with the future tense, there are several ways of using the pluperfect in Portuguese, the simple form being virtually nonexistent in the spoken language, but very common in the literary language. The compound forms using “ter” and “haver” in the imperfect are much more common in everyday speech. Ex: Eu comprara um livro; eu tinha comprado um livro; eu havia comprado um livro (I had bought a book).
    • Pretérito Perfeito Composto (Perfect... sort of): It looks structurally similar to the Perfect in English and Spanish, but it actually carries a very different meaning. It means an action that began and happened continuously the past, and continues to do so in the present, with the possibility of happening again in the future. Ex: Tem chovido muito (It's been raining a lot). note 
  • Subjuntivo/Conjuntivo (Subjunctive): English has only remains of a subjunctive mood, so it might be a bit hard to explain it. The subjunctive is used with things that aren’t exactly real, at least yet. That includes wishes, possibilities, etc. It’s much more complicated than that, actually. Subjunctive clauses are mostly introduced by que, se, or quando.
    • Presente do Subjuntivo (Present Subjunctive): Used for subjunctive clauses in the present, and usually preceded by que. Ex: Ele quer que eu para a festa (He wants me to go to the party).
    • Imperfeito do Subjuntivo (Imperfect Subjunctive): Like the above, but used for clauses completing sentences in the conditional, past, and imperfect. It’s introduced by se and que Ex: Ele queria que eu fosse à festa (He wanted me to go to the party).
    • Futuro do Subjuntivo (Future Subjunctive): This tense was created by the Ibero-Romance languages, it never existed in Latin, or in any other known European language, for that matter. Nowadays it’s pretty much dead in Spanish, but in Portuguese it’s very much alive and in use. It’s introduced by se and quando, and is used for subjunctive clauses in the future. Ex: Só irei para a festa se ele também for (I'm only going to the party if he goes too).
  • Imperativo (Imperative): Like in English, it's used for orders or commands. The main difference here is that the imperative agrees in number and it may also indicate formality. Ex:Compra o livro! (informal)/Compre o livro! (formal) (Buy the book!)
  • Infinitivo Pessoal (Personal Infinitive): This one is pretty much unique to Portuguese and one of its closest relatives, Galician; it's not found in any other Indo-European language. It's an infinitive that agrees in person with the subject. It has several uses, and it's possibly one of the trickiest elements of the Portuguese grammar. Ex: Ele pediu para ires para a festa (He asked you to go to the party).

This list is not at all exhaustive and mostly focuses on simple tenses. There’s still the Future Perfect, the Subjunctive Perfect, progressive constructions, etc. But the ones listed are some of the most common, so that’s it for now.

Last, but not least, agreement varies depending on the dialects. Most Brazilian dialects make no, or almost no, distinction between the second and third person verb forms, either because the pronoun tu is simply not used, or because the second and the third-person singular verb forms have collapsed and now are either completely identical or mostly identical. So, while a Portuguese would say tu cantas, most Brazilians would say either note  canta, or tu canta, which explains why Brazilians use subject pronouns much more often, as it’s not always possible to guess the subject through the conjugation alone.

Spelling and Pronunciation

Spelling in Portuguese is much more logical than in English, thankfully, but not as simple as in Spanish. It’s quite easy to guess how a word should be pronounced just by reading it,if you know the rules. But it’s not necessarily as easy to guess how a word you heard should be written.

Portuguese has a pretty rich vowel inventory, at least for Romance languages. Not only that, but vowels differ greatly from dialect to dialect. So this list only provides a very broad overview.

  • A: mostly like the a in father, but also like the a in amber, and the the u in duck in unstressed positions.
  • E: also represents three sounds, the e in empty, the e in bed, and either the ee in sleep (Brazil) or (nearly) unpronounced like the e in made (Portugal) in unstressed positions.
  • I: like the ee in sleep, and the y in you.
  • O: also three sounds, the o in open, the oo in door, and the oo in ooze in unstressed positions.
  • U: two sounds, the oo in ooze, and the w in we.

Looks hard? It actually isn’t really that hard, the thing is that Portuguese relies heavily on vowel quality, which means vowels are pronounced differently depending on how stressed or accented they are. Vowels can be open, closed, or weak semi-vowels depending on their quality. Accent marks indicate the quality of the vowel, so a vowel with an acute accent, like ó, is open, while the circumflex, ô, indicates that the vowel is closed.

Portuguese also has nasal vowels, five of them. Those are pronounced by letting most of the air flow through your nose. It’s like humming, but with your mouth open. The nasal vowels are:

  • Ã, AN, AM: the nasal counterpart to the u in duck.
  • EN, EM: the nasal counterpart to the e in empty.
  • IN, IM: a nasal ee.
  • Õ, ON, OM: the o in open, but nasalized.
  • UM, UN: a nasal oo.

Ok, now let’s go to the consonants and digraphs. Some of them are pronounced the same as English, while others… Here we'll talk about the consonants that behave noticeably differently in Portuguese:

  • B: It's pronounced exactly like in English in all positions in most of the Portuguese-speaking world. In Portugal, however, between vowels it is reduced to a sound closer to v.
  • C: sort of the same as in English. Before A, O, and U, it’s always pronounced like a K; before E and I, it’s always pronounced like an S.
  • Ç: always sounds like the s in soup.
  • CH: sounds like the digraph sh in English.
  • D: the same as English. Many Brazilian dialects palatalize this consonant before I or a weak E, the result being a sound like the English J. So, in these dialects the word dia (day) sounds like jeeah, instead of deeah. In Portugal between vowels it is pronounced similar to th in "this".
  • G: just like C, it has a hard and a soft pronunciation. Before A, O, and U, it’s pronounced like the g in great; before E and I, it sounds like the s in treasure. In Portugal between vowels it is generally reduced to a soft fricative as in Spanish.
  • GU: It’s either pronounced as the g in gum, or as the gw in Gwen.
  • H: it doesn’t represent any sound at all by itself, it’s a mute consonant, but it’s used to form many digraphs.
  • J: it always sounds like the s in treasure.
  • L: mostly like in English. However,in many Brazilian dialects, word-final L is rendered like a w, so the word sol (sun) is pronounced sohw. Also, many Brazilian dialects palatalize this sound before I and a weak E, much like how it happens with D. The resulting sound is identical to…
  • LH: a palatized L, it doesn’t really seem to exist in English. It’s pronounced by making an L sound while flatting the tip of the tongue against the palate. This is basically the same sound as "ll" in Catalan and "gl" in Italian. It also exists in "official" Castilian Spanish, represented again by "ll", but most Spanish dialects have dropped it in favor of merging it with "y" ("yeismo").
  • M: Just like in English... sort of. In syllable-final and word-final positions (ex: campo, bebem), it merely indicates that the preceding vowel is a nasal vowel, or nasal diphthong, and is not pronounced at all.
  • N: Like in English. As with M, in the end of syllables (ex: dente) it only nasalizes the preceding vowel without being actually pronounced. Also, native Portuguese words, in general, never end with the letter N. Similarly to D and L, it’s palatized before I and weak E in many Brazilian dialects, resulting in a sound that is just like the Spanish Ñ, which in Portuguese is written...
  • NH: this sound is the same as the ñ in Spanish, and doesn’t really seem to exist in English. In many Brazilian and African dialects it’s often pronounced like a nasalized form of the y in you.
  • R: OK, this one will be a little lengthy. There are two “r sounds”, a “hard r” and a “soft r”. The “soft r” is pronounced like the way some English speakers pronounce the t in city, an alveolar tap, and it remains the same everywhere. The “hard r”, on the other hand, varies a lot from place to place, but originally it was pronounced like the trilled r in Spanish. That pronunciation can still be found in parts of Portugal and Brazil, but the most common “hard r’s” nowadays are pronounced in the back of the mouth or the throat. In Portugal this guttural r is usually very much like the French r, while in Brazil it tends to sound more like a stronger form of the English h. The letter R is pronounced as a soft r when it’s found between two vowels, as in hora (hour). The same pronunciation happens when the R is part of a consonant cluster, like the one found in the word pedra (stone). However, when the letter R is found in the beginning of a word (ex: rato, rat) and after the consonants N and L (ex: enredo, melro, plot, blackbird), it’s realized as a “hard r”. Word and syllable final R might be pronounced as either a “soft r” or as “a hard r”, depending on the dialect. Oddly enough, in a few Brazilian dialects, word and syllable-final R sounds just like the English r. Finally, Brazilian Portuguese in general tends to drop the R in the end of words.
  • RR: always a “hard r”.
  • S: Yet another complex consonant. Like with R, it’s pronounced differently depending on its position. In the beginning of words and after the consonant N it always sounds like the s in sea. When between vowels it’s realized as a z. In word and syllable-final positions, it varies depending on the dialect. Most Portuguese-speaking countries (except Brazil) pronounce it like sh in "ash", however, most of Brazil (with the notable exception of the Rio de Janeiro dialect) pronounces it as an s.
  • SS: always like the s in sea.
  • T: It’s mostly the same as in English. However, several Brazilian dialects pronounce it as the ch in change when it precedes I and a weak E, so tia (aunt) sounds like cheeah, instead of teeah.
  • X: has several possible pronunciations. It can sound like the English x (axioma, axiom), like a z (e.g. exato, exact), like an s (máximo, maximum), and like "sh" (caixa, box). The best part? There’s no way of guessing how to pronounce it, you have to learn every individual case by heart.
  • Z: it mostly behaves identically to the z in English. Only one thing, in syllable and word-final positions, it behaves just like S.

Pronunciation tips: diacritics and those nasal vowels.

Diacritic marks are those little things placed on top of some vowels. Portuguese has four diacritics, two accent marks, the tilde, and the grave. Let’s start with the accents. Just like in Spanish, Portuguese accents indicate the stressed vowel; they are the circumflex ô, and the acute ó. Those accent marks do more than just that, though. They also serve to tell you the quality of the marked vowel, particularly in the case of the letters E and O. The circumflex indicates a closed vowel, while he acute indicates an open vowel. This distinction in vowel quality may be the only difference between two words, like the case with avó (grandmother) and avô (grandfather). The open E is pronounced like the e in bed, while the closed E sounds a little like the ay in say. As for the open O, it sounds like the o in soft, while the closed O sounds like the o in open.

Nasal vowels are one of the biggest issues foreigners have with speaking Portuguese. And they are very common. There are several ways of noticing a nasal vowel. An N or M in word and syllable-final positions indicates that the preceding vowel is nasal (ex: antes, amplo, onça; before, wide, jaguar). Nasal diphthongs are also widespread, and they are indicated by an M in word-final position (ex: andam, homem; they walk, man). Those diphthongs are pronounced like nasalized forms of the English diphthongs aw and ay. But M and N are not the only forms of marking a nasal vowel. That’s were the tilde comes in. This little thing here “~”. The tilde was originally a small N written above a letter, but it has since then evolved into a diacritic on itself. In Portuguese, it’s only found above the vowels A, and O. It’s pretty straight forward, a tilde indicates that the vowel is nasal, and that's it. Also, the tilde is usually placed on the stressed syllable, so if there’s no accent mark, but there’s a tilde, you can bet the stressed syllable is with the tilde.

Last but not least, there’s the grave, or “`” . It’s only placed above the letter A, and it indicates a contraction with the preposition a. Like in English, Portuguese relies heavily on prepositions, since there’s no case marking on the nouns themselves, but unlike English, Portuguese contracts prepositions with articles and some pronouns extensively. The grave accent is used to indicate a contraction between the preposition a and an article or pronoun that begins with A. So the word àquela, is a + aquela, (to + that one). In Brazilian Portuguese there’s no difference in pronunciation between à and a; both sound like the a in father. European Portuguese, however, does distinguish them; à sounds like the a in father, while a sounds a little like the u in duck.

In Brazilian Portuguese alone there’s actually another diacritic, the diaresis, the two little dots above ü. It was used in the digraphs qu and gu, to mark that the u was to be pronounced. The diaresis has fallen out of use though, so, on the good side it’s one less diacritic. On the bad side, you have to learn every case independently if you want to know when the u is pronounced and when it’s not.

European and Brazilian Portuguese

Portuguese is one of those multinational languages, so a significant amount of regional variation is to be expected. The same happens with Spanish and English, each with a myriad of dialects. In Portuguese, the main varieties are Brazilian Portuguese, and European Portuguese.

However, the distance between BR and EU Portuguese can't really be compared to that between English and Spanish dialects. While their standard grammars are indeed very similar, their spoken varieties can, and do, differ quite a lot. This has made some linguists conclude that Br-Pt and Eu-Pt may have even become different languages already, even if closely related ones. While that view isn't held by everyone, it's become increasingly more common over time. It's also a very, very heated topic for some, and a common source for Flame Wars, so it's better not to dwell in it for too long.

In any case, the fact remains that both varieties are quite distinct. Eu-Pt tends to be more conservative in its grammar, while Br-Pt tends to be more conservative in its phonology. Those differences are somewhat disguised by the standard grammars of both countries, which are still very similar, since they're both based on European Portuguese. The problem arises when people start speaking. Despite Standard Brazilian Portuguese being based on Eu-Pt, its spoken form, known by some as Vernacular Brazilian, is a direct descendent of the Portuguese introduced in South America hundreds of years ago. The result? Well, it's simply impossible to say the sentence "I love her", in a way that fits both the standard, and the spoken language. A Brazilian would say "Eu amo ela" which is wrong according to the standard, where a more correct choice would be "Eu a amo" or "Eu amo-a"(the latter is the preferred choice in European Portuguese). Nevertheless, the "wrong" sentence is well accepted in the spoken language because, from a linguistic standpoint, it still conveys the same meaning as the "right" one. It would only be considered incorrect in a much more formal context, or in the written language. As a general rule, European Portuguese is more adherent to formal grammar than the Brazilian one, thanks to the multicultural influence resulting of the latter's colonization.

Both varieties also differ greatly in phonetics, which is probably one of the reasons why most Brazilians have trouble understanding Portuguese people, but it certainly also helps that Brazilians have almost zero contact with Eu-Pt. The Portuguese, however, are very much used to Br-Pt, since Brazilian soap operas and musicians are quite popular in Portugal. Consequently, Portuguese people don't have much difficulty in understanding Brazilians.

Lastly, they also at the very least used to have different orthographies. In 1990, a treaty was signed by the Portuguese Speaking countries in order to create an unified orthography. Until then, there were two different orthographies. One used by Brazil, and one used by everyone else. The new, unified, orthography was indeed created, but it's still not widely accepted. Many people still oppose it, claiming that such a goal is not even possible, while others think it's brilliant. Whether the Orthographic Agreement will be successful or not, it remains to be seen. For now, it's yet another heated topic.

The Galician-Portuguese debate

This is a divisive issue in Portuguese-language linguistics and in Spanish politics (especially those of Galicia).

Common understanding has it that Galician and Portuguese are different languages, albeit very closely related and to some degree mutually intelligible, forming part of "Galaico-Portuguese" subfamily of the Ibero-Romance family of languages, which split from a common language (also called "Galaico-Portuguese") during the Middle Ages. This position is known as isolacionismo ("isolationism") or, more derisively, castelhanismo ("castillianism", after "Castillian" which is another name for the Spanish Language) and is officially accepted by the Spanish goverment, the Galician regional government and the Real Academia Galega ("Royal Galician Academy", RAG, which is considered the official regulator of the Galician language by the Spanish and Galician governments).

An opposing view is that Galician and Portuguese are, indeed, the same language, with Galician forming a third variety of Portuguese, alongside Europeannote  and Brazilian Portuguese. This is known as reintegracionismo ("reintegrationism") or, less commonly, Lusismo ("Lusism", after the ancient Roman province and pre-Roman people of Lusitania, often stated to be the ancestors of the Portuguese), supported by the Associaçom Galega da Língua ("Galician Association of the Language", AGAL, which regulates its own standard of Galician), the Academia Galega da Língua Portuguesa ("Galician Academy of the Portuguese Language", AGLP, which defends a standard very close to Portuguese) and Galician nationalist politicians, parties and movements.

Both isolacionistas and reintegracionistas defend different ortographic norms. Isolacionistas defend the RAG norms, which tend to, well, "isolate" Galician from Portuguese - and make it closer to Spanish. Reintegracionistas defend a standard closer to Portuguese, and especially to the European variety - i.e., to "reintegrate" Galician into Portuguese. The latter is divided into two factions, which differ on how hard they want to include Galician in Portuguese: AGAL defenders make concessions to regional ideosincracies (seen right in their name, for instance: associaçom instead of the standard Portuguese associação), while AGLP defenders wish for a pure and simple integration of Galician to Portuguese. Binormativismo ("binormativism"), defended by AGAL, defends that both norms of Galician can co-exist side by side, with both norms being made equally official; binormativistas take Norwegian as an example, where bokmål and nynorsk are both equally official and used and taught simultaneously in official contexts, while each one chooses the norm that fits them most.

Note that the official norm question dovetails with the spoken varieties of Galician, of which it has two: "Galician-Portuguese",note  which is the spoken form closest to Portuguese (especially that spoken in the Minho region of Northwestern Portugal) and is most spoken in the rural areas of Galicia, and "Galician-Spanish", a more modern form spoken in the cities which has a great infusion of Spanish words and sounds and gramatical forms.

Fala and Eonavian

Another, lesser known but related to the latter, controversy is that of the Falanote , spoken in Valverde del Fresno (Valverdi du Fresnu), Eljas (As Ellas) and San Martín de Trevejo (Sa Martín de Trebellu)note , all three towns part of the traditional Leonese region but isolated from the remainder of it and very close to the Portuguese border, and Eonaviannote  spoken in the westernmost part of the Spanish region of Asturias, contiguous with Galicia.

Fala is very close to Galician (and Portuguese) and probably has its origins with Galician settlers sent in during the Middle Ages to defend the region from the Portuguese to the west and the Moors to the south. It was disputed between the Leonese and the Portuguese during the Middle Ages, it was isolated from the rest of Leon and there were frequent contacts between the region and Portugal. It has some traits from Leonese, but remarkably very little for its region due to its isolation. Some philologists state the language has a strong relationship with the Portuguese-language dialects of the Portuguese municipality of Sabugal. Since 2001, it is protected as a "Cultural Interest Good" by the government of Extremadura. It is vigorously spoken by the local population.

Eonavian has influences from both Galician and Asturiannote , the languages which surround the region where it is spoken. It is officially recognised as a separate languagenote  and protected by the Asturias regional government.

The controversy lies on whether both are dialects of Galician (and, thus, Portuguese) or two separate languages inside the Galaico-Portuguese group, alongside Galician and Portuguese. Regarding Fala, its speakers affirm a separate linguistic identity and resist implementing a standard ortography based on Galician. Regarding Eonavian, the dispute is whether it is the northeastern varieties of Galician (with some influence from Astur-Leonese), a language on its own, or a transitional dialect between Galician and Asturian. People in Galicia (along with some linguists in Portugal) believe in the first hypothesis, while people in Asturias believe in either the second or the third (along with a mixed identity for where it is spoken). However, everyone is in agreement both languages/dialects are in some form a part of the Galaico-Portuguese family.


Judaeo-Portuguese (Portuguese: judeu-português) was the language of Portuguese Jews. It was very close to Portuguese, and was influenced by Judaeo-Spanish (which Judaeo-Portuguese also influenced), Hebrew and Greek. It was written in both the Hebrew and Latin alphabets.

In Portugal, it is currently extinct because of the Inquisition and because it was so similar to Portuguese, so it was absorbed by it. The language survived throughout the world, spoken by the various communities of exiled Portuguese Jews, but is now virtually extinct, only spoken by about 2,000 people in limited liturgical contexts; it was either absorbed into or replaced by Judaeo-Spanish, rather like Judaeo-Aragonese and Judaeo-Catalan.

It influenced Papiamento (a creole language spoken in the Dutch Caribbean languages of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint-Eustatius and Saba with great similarities to Cape Verdean and Guinea-Bissau creoles) and Saramaccan (spoken by the Saramaka tribe - about 90,000 people, 58,000 of which in Suriname -, and has a closely related language in Matawai, a tribe which splintered from the Saramakans after they signed a separate peace deal with the Dutch colonists).