The Portuguese language belongs to the neo-Latin language family; it is therefore an evolution of the common Latin brought by the Romans to Lusitania.
Portuguese is spoken in Portugal, somewhere in Spain near the Portuguese border, in the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira (politically belonging to the Portuguese republic), in Brazil, and finally, more or less modified, in numerous Creole varieties, in several points of Africa and Asia.
We distinguish two periods in the history of the Portuguese language: 1. the archaic period, from the XII century (according to some authors from the IX century) up to the middle of the century. XVI; 2. the modern period, from the middle of the century. XVI to date.
Archaic Portuguese, apart from some dialectal peculiarities, is intimately connected with Galician, that is with the Galician language (cf. XVI, p. 279), which by Italian authors is often called “Galician”, a term that produces some confusion. This period, which includes the first phases of the two Neolotan varieties intimately connected to each other: Portuguese and Galician, is generally called the Galician – Portuguese period.. This Galician-Portuguese was formed in northern Lusitania. The southern part of Lusitania was occupied by the Arabs, from the century. VIII to the century. XIII, but in it, according to J. Leite de Vasconcellos, a neo-Latin variety had formed, or at least was forming, which we do not know how similar it was to the Portuguese; and which was certainly maintained during the Arab rule. After the conquests of Alfonso Henriques (from the mid-twelfth century onwards), the archaic Portuguese who formed in the north also spread to the south and merged with the neo-Latin idiom of the south, of which, however, traces remain both in the onomastics of Extremadura, Alemtejo and Algarve, both in the dialects of these regions. Traces of this neo-Latin from southern Lusitania, which the Leite de Vasconcellos called “romanço moçarábico”, would be, Defesa (in the north only Devesa, see. Spagn. Dehesa, gal. Debesa), Cacela, Castro – Verde, Fontanas (due to the maintenance of – n – intervocalic, see. Instead wool> lã), etc. See Leite de Vasconcellos, Revista Lusitana, XI, p. 354 (= Opuscolos, IV, Coimbra 1929, pp. 799-800); Arch. Glott. Italian, XXI, section neol., pp. 114, 118 (for Fontanas).
Thus, leaving aside this supposed “romanço moçarábico”, we must consider as the basis of today’s literary Portuguese the neo-Latin formed in northern Lusitania and which linguists call Galician-Portuguese, while contemporaries called, even here as in other Romance-speaking countries, simply romanço, that is, novel.
For the most ancient documents of the Portuguese language (the songbooks from Ajuda, from the Vaticana, Colocci-Brancuti, etc.), see below: Literature.
Let’s briefly see some of the most characteristic phonetic peculiarities of the Portuguese language.
According to Cachedhealth, characteristic in the tonic vocalism are the modifications of the vowels due to the influence of a nasal, for example, manu> mão, and the modifications due to the semivowels i, u (generally resolving in anticipations), for example, area> eira ; rabia> raiva ; matter> madeira ; ecclesia> eigreija (arch.), igreja ; habui> houve ; sapui> souve. Noteworthy is the metaphonesis of e, o tonics in paroxitone voices: and and o are closed (and in conjugation also transformed into i, u), if a dark vowel is found in the final syllable, open if a clear vowel is found. These metaphonetic shifts do not appear in general from the handwriting, but have great theoretical and practical importance. For example, cevo (= s é ??? vu) “pasture”, but ceva (= s évÎ) “nourishment”; dobro (= d î ??? bru) “double”, but dobra (= d ó ??? brÎ) “fold”; dead (m ó ??? & mis5; y tu), but dead (m ó ??? & mis5; y tÎ) “dead”, -a “, like (k ó ??? mÄ) “I ate”, etc. More ancient cases are those due to the metaphonesis of e and o by the influence of any subsequent iod, such as vindima ” vendemia ” (cf. sp. Vendimia), etc. See AA Cavacas, A lingua portuguesa and its Metaphony (Coimbra 1921), which however is only valid as a collection of facts.
Also remarkable are the changes due to apophony, which in Portuguese is not only quantitative as in Italian, but also and primarily qualitative.
For the purposes of apophony, Portuguese vowels can be divided into two large groups: 1. strong or full; 2. weak.
In general the strong or full vowels are in the tonic syllable, the weak ones in the unstressed; α, u, i are part of both groups, therefore they can be both in the tonics and in the unstressed ones. Now, when the accent that falls on a syllable having a full vowel moves, the corresponding weak vowel must be found instead of said full vowel (since the full vowel, if it is not α, u, i, cannot, as a rule, be found in unstressed syllable); conversely when a weak vowel of unstressed syllable due to a change of accent (due to conjugation, derivation, etc.) comes to be in the tonic syllable, it is replaced by the corresponding full vowel.
We cite some examples to illustrate the main correspondences between the vowels in the tonic syllable and the vowels in the unstressed syllable: porta (pronunciation: p ó ??? & mis5; ztÎ), ma portão (pronunciation pu & mis5; ztãu̯); viola (vi̯ ó ???lÎ), but violêta (vi̯ul é ??? tÎ); belo (bs̄lu), but belêza (bəl é ??? zÎ); feast (fs̄štÎ) but festinha (f & mis5; * štiñÎ), etc. In the Lisbon pronunciation there is also the alternation & mis5; w ~ i e.g., lenha (lÎñÎ), lenheiro (l & mis5; * NII & mis5; zu), but the pronunciation with in items such as lenha, igreja, etc. (that is, in front of nh, lh, x, ch, j) it is specific only to Lisbon and to a small territory between Lisbon and Coimbra.
Characteristic of Portuguese is the passage of the Latin diphthong au into ou which, in the modern language, alternates with oi: eg, tauru> touro, toiro ; auru> ouro, oiro.
In consonantism we will notice the presence of the lenition (in Portuguese abrandion) of the deaf intervocalic ones, for example, lacu> lago ; eagle> águia ; acutu> agudo ; know> saber, etc.