Updated Words Translations

AO90 and the total linguistic anarchy

For all Portuguese speaking countries, the Orthographic Agreement of the Portuguese Language 1990 (AO90) is no news. A lot has been said and written about it and it is a fact that no one is happy about it and some haven’t even applied it. What indeed has happened was we were thrown into complete linguistic anarchy, where words are made up every day, no one is sure how to write correctly anymore, and for those who work with the language daily, it’s heartbreaking to see what this document has done to it.

The Portuguese Language has a Greco-Latin influence, like so many others in Europe, therefore there is linguistic and cultural proximity with other European countries. But the Portuguese language goes way beyond Europe, it is spoken in Africa, Brazil, East-Timor, etc. It is quite natural that in all these countries it suffered their cultural influences and naturally evolved accordingly, so did the European Portuguese. That is what happens with every language, that’s what it makes them so rich and interesting. The diversity and cultural traits they acquire in different countries.

The AO90, however, was an imposed change that had nothing to do with the natural evolution of the language and did not fit the purpose of unifying it either. In fact, the idea of unifying the language is a very sad one, as it would kill that cultural diversity it has and would basically impose something totally unnatural into the people of all Portuguese speaking countries. Moreover, what was actually intended to unify the language is actually separating both variants of the language and the language from its European roots. So is fair to say it failed miserably and spread misery on those who use it.

As a linguist, I need to deal with this issue every day. For my clients who don’t speak the language is hard to understand the problem and why we are so against this change. I try to simplify things telling them that is as if we suddenly imposed a variant of English into all English-speaking countries, it would go against their culture and natural evolution the language might have had. But even this explanation is too simplistic and not totally correct. It would be fairer to say that it was an imposed change that did not favour any of the countries involved and as matter of fact, only created confusion among them.

At Updated Words, we strongly oppose the AO90, and we do not comply with it. We believe, as linguists, we should defend the languages we work with and the cultures of the countries where they are spoken. We are not politicians, and we don’t believe it should be politicians making this type of a decision, but linguists, people who really understand and respect the intricacies of languages, the fact their diversity is what makes them so interesting and most of all, is what makes them a part of each country’s identity. “Unifying” a language is killing that diversity, those cultural traits and part of that identity.

At the moment, there is a petition with the Portuguese Government for a Referendum on the AO90. Portuguese citizens can sign this petition by registering at the Portuguese Parliament’s website and then signing this petition. You must provide your ID number and other identification details for your signature to be valid.  If you want to sign, please click here.