Angola, Brazil, Portuguese and words as ‘she’

August 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

I caught the end of a radio item – it went something like this. You can’t just change our words – each word has a life and you can see that life across different stories and texts – you can see where she came from and what she means and how she fits with us. In Angola we have our own way of  being with our language – they can’t just standardise us like this. The item was about the move to standardise Portuguese around the world – not just spellings but usage, meanings….and the reaction to this absurd suggestion was very strong. Another contributor, this time from Brazil said ….Portuguese words now have quite different meanings around the world, and this is how we choose to use them – the desire to standardise represents commercial interests – dictionary makers, commercial materials and the like. So far only two of the eight targeted countries have signed and participants felt that this move was doomed to failure. But they were outraged….And I loved the way they talked about words…words as ‘she’, words having a life which we can trace…. Hmmm, I must find that as a podcast…. In New Zealand we have arguments over spelling, and the lines of those arguments run along rather different tracks….


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