Archive for the ‘portugal’ Category

The Portuguese empire (1415-1999) was the first and the last of the empires of western Europe. It sold black pepper from the Spice Islands and black men from Africa. It helped to spread the Catholic faith, especially to Africa and Asia, and made Portuguese a language spoken by more people than French. The empire gave birth to Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and other countries.

At one time or other Portugal ruled parts or all of Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Indonesia, East Timor, Bahrain, Barbados, Nagasaki in Japan, Tanzania, Kenya, Yemen, Morocco, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Goa in India and Macao in China, among others.

From 1000 to 1300 the Portuguese Christians took over what is now Portugal from the Moors. But in a sense they never stopped: in the 1400s they kept on going, down the coast of Africa. By 1498 they had reached India, by 1571, Japan. They had ports and outposts all along the coasts of Africa and Asia, from Lisbon to Nagasaki. The empire was at its height – not in land, but in power, trade and wealth.

Treaty of Tordesillas: The groundwork for this was laid in 1494, two years after Columbus discovered the Americas. The pope divided the world outside Europe in half between Portugal and Spain. In effect Portugal got Brazil and all of Africa and Asia except the Philippines.

The agreement held long enough among European powers to shape both empires. Portuguese power in its half of the world was not challenged till the 1600s by the Dutch. In 1500 the Portuguese had the best ships in the world, but by 1600 it was the Dutch.

The Dutch fought the Portuguese everywhere, even in Brazil. Portugal managed to hold onto Brazil, but lost Ceylon and the Spice Islands (Sri Lanka and Indonesia). Worse than mere land, they lost control of trade from the East. The glory days of the empire were over.

In the 1700s Brazil became the jewel of the empire. Brazil had sugar, gold, diamonds, cacao and tobacco. Black slaves worked the land. With the growth of Brazil inland, the empire reached its height in terms of land.

Extensão máxima do Império Português no século XVII.

The early 1800s brought the wars of Napoleon. The king fled to Brazil. Rio, not Lisbon, was the seat of the empire for a while. But after the wars Portugal was no longer strong enough to hold onto Brazil. It became independent in 1825.

This was a huge shock. To make up for its loss, Portugal turned its attention to its possessions in Africa, especially Angola and Mozambique.

In the late 1900s the empire came to an end.

In 1974 Salazar fell from power in Portugal and nearly all of the remaining countries of the empire were freed: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe and East Timor. Some of these sank into wars of succession, particularly Angola and Mozambique. Indonesia took over East Timor, killing a third of its people.

But even then Portugal still had Macao near Hong Kong. That was given back to China in 1999, the last bit of the empire to go.

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The Lord’s Prayer in Portuguese:

Pai nosso, que estais no céu
Santificado seja o Vosso nome,
Venha a nós o Vosso reino,
Seja feita a Vossa vontade,
Assim na terra como no céu.
O pão nosso de cada dia nos dai hoje.
Perdoai as nossas ofensas,
Assim como nós perdoamos a quem nos tem ofendido.
E não nos deixeis cair em tentação,
Mas livrai-nos do mal,

Portuguese (1290- ) is the main language of Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and some other bits of the old Portuguese empire. More people speak Portuguese than French, but not as many as speak Spanish. It is spoken by half of all Latin Americans and by more Africans than Europeans.

Portuguese is like Spanish, but it has sh and zh sounds, more z and oy sounds and, like French, is partly spoken through the nose. The spelling is also different. But if you know one, the other is easy to learn: many of the words are the same in both. Some people who speak Portuguese can understand spoken Spanish, but it does not work the other way round.

They both come from Latin. If history had been a bit different, they might have been one language.

Some see Galician of north-western Spain as a dialect of Portuguese. That is a matter of debate: while those in northern Portugal can understand it, those in the south have trouble.

What is certain is that they both came from the same language in the Middle Ages: Galician-Portuguese. It was the language of choice for poets in the 1200s and 1300s, even in the court of the Spanish king. But later Galicia fell under Spanish rule while Portugal had its own kings who made Portuguese a language of learning.

The main dialects of Portuguese are those of Portugal, Africa and Brazil. African and European Portuguese are closer to each other than either is to Brazilian Portuguese.

Africa: Portuguese has taken root in Angola. It is not merely the language of those at the top with good educations – like, say, English in Pakistan. It has become the native language of a third of Angolans and is understood by most of them. It has also taken root in Sao Tome and Principe. It is also widely understood in Mozambique, though less than one in ten speak it as a native language. Portuguese is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world.

Brazil: While the written language that everyone learns in school is close to that of Portugal, the Portuguese that you hear in the street is almost another language.

The Portuguese in Europe can understand spoken Brazilian Portuguese because they are used to hearing it in television shows and songs from Brazil. But some Brazilians have a hard time understanding Portuguese the way it is spoken in Europe.

Countries with a million or more Portuguese speakers:

186m: Brazil
11m: Portugal
9m: Angola
8m: Mozambique
2m: America
2m: Germany
1m: France
1m: South Africa

Some would add the 4 million Galicians to this list.

– Abagond, 2007.

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