The Languages of Portugal
Portuguese is the third most spoken language in the world. It is the official language of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, Portugal, S. Tome and Principe and Equatorial Guinea. Moreover, it is one of the official languages of the EU, Mercosul and the African Union. All together, Portuguese is the native language of approximately 250 million people and the second language of 20 million people.
The language variants correspond broadly to the different countries and the studied dialects (in Portugal) are divided according to the geography: South-Central, Northern and Atlantic islands. While the variants and dialects differ on the phonological and lexical level, there is full inter-comprehension among their speakers. Portuguese is a Romance Language. Because of the history of maritime exploration and coastal trade, the vocabulary contains many loanwords from Latin, Germanic, Arabic, Amerindian, African and Asian languages.
Features of Portuguese:
- The weakening of non-stressed vowels in many language variants results in a relatively hard sounding of these variants compared to other Romance Languages.
- Portuguese is a null-subject language, i.e., the subject is not realised, if it is already marked somewhere else, like in the inflected verb form. This is one of the challenges for automatic syntactic analyses.
- The inflectional system contains a relatively big amount of inflectional categories. For example, a verb can be declined for aspect, tense, mood, number, person or polarity. Furthermore, Portuguese has two inflectional paradigms for verbs, which do not exist in other Romance Languages: the inflected infinitive and the future subjunctive.
- Clitic-pronouns vary in their position. They occur before or after the verb and sometimes even within certain verb forms.