Today, May 5, marks the 3rd time the World Day of the Portuguese Language, also called Lusophone Day.
This date was officially established by UNESCO in 2019, thus making the Portuguese language the first language in the world with an official date recognized by the UN. The celebration of this day has the main purpose of promoting the sense of community but also the diversity of all Portuguese speakers, promoting the discussion of idiomatic and cultural issues of Lusophony.
It is estimated that, currently, the Portuguese language is spoken by more than 265 million people, placing it as the 5th most spoken language in the world. In addition, Portuguese is recognized as the most widely used language in the southern hemisphere, largely at the expense of Brazilian speakers. It is the official language of nine countries – Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Equatorial, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, and Portugal. We can thus say that one of the main assets of the Portuguese language is its diversity, having long been present in the various continents of the world.
The Portuguese language continues to evolve and expand, continuing to reach various latitudes. There is a growing interest of people to learn the Portuguese language, with special emphasis on the Asian continent. The United Nations estimates that by the end of this century, the Portuguese language will be spoken by more than 500 million people. Thus, in the 21st century, the Portuguese language can no longer be seen only as the language of nostalgia and of sad and melancholic fado, but also as the language of science, innovation and progress, of inclusion and the joy of knowing how to live well.
In 1536, Fernão de Oliveira wrote the first grammar of the Portuguese language. This important work had as its main goal the structuring and organization of a linguistic system of its own, which could be affirmed and perpetuated in time, and was also seen as a way to empower the national autonomy of Portugal. In this work, Fernão de Oliveira calls attention to the fact that “Let us not distrust our language, because men make the language and not language the men”, emphasizing the high civilizational value of the (Portuguese) language. Thus, the best way we can continue to honor and dignify our language is to speak and write it well, combining in a careful and creative way the different components that make up the language: from lexicon to spelling, from syntax to pragmatics, not neglecting the various stylistic resources that we have at our disposal and that mark the Portuguese language in such a special way.
To conclude, it is time to highlight one of the most important Portuguese poets of the 20th century, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen, who, in the 1960s discovered the then town of Lagos, having fallen in love with the raw beauty of this land and allowed Lagos to remain forever embedded in the beauty of her poems.
Days before the 25th of April 1974, he wrote the following poem, which I leave you by way of farewell:
“Facing the sea like the other Lagos
I often think of Leopoldo Sedar Senghor:
The precise cleanliness of Lagos where cleanliness
Is a poetic art and a form of honesty
Awakens in me the nostalgia of a project
Rational clean and poetic
Dictators – it is known – do not look at maps
Their disproportionate excursions are founded on confusion
Their dictatorship leaves young dead bodies along the paths
Young dead bodies along the stretches
In the precise clarity of Lagos it is harder for me
To accept the confused the shapeless the hidden
In the clarity of Lagos where the visible
Has the simple and clear cut of a project
My love of geometry and concrete
Rejects the hollow hollow of degradation
In the light of Lagos morning and open
In the square square so concise and Greek
In the whiteness of the lime so vehement and direct
My country is invoked and projected
Lagos, April 20th 1974″.
In O nome das coisas (1977) by Sophia de Mello Breynner
Ana Catarina Baptista
Professor at the University of Algarve, PhD in Voice, Language and Communication by the University of Lisbon. Passionate about the transformative potential of childhood and education. She believes that it is necessary to give children their turn and their voice, placing them truly at the center of policies, because…. if we change the beginning of the story, we can change the whole story!