History of the Portuguese Language
Cod: 51151
Department: DH
Scientific area: Linguistics
Total working hours: 156
Total contact time: 15

This course unit traces the history of the Portuguese language with particular emphasis on historical, social and cultural factores that contributed to the emergence of novel Galician-Portuguese in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, as distinct from the other Romance languages, and the emergence of Portuguese as the national language in a specific space. Also, it focuses on the characterization and evolution of some aspects of the Portuguese language system (namely, its vocabulary) from the 12th to the 20th century, always pointing the historical and cultural factors that conditioned it. Students are also offered an overview of the Portuguese language geography, with special emphasis on extra-European Portuguese.

  1. Portuguese language history 
  2. Portuguese vocabulary 
  3. Portuguese language geography

By the end of semester, students are expected to be able to:
•trace the path that led from the Galician-Portuguese novel in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, from the Latin, to the emergence of a national language, Portuguese, giving special emphasis to the role of socio-historical and cultural factors intervening in this process.
•acquire generic knowledge on the composition and structure of Portuguese vocabulary, relating its features with different historical moments.
•know, explain, and place in time the major linguistic changes that ocurred at phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical levels and which affected Portuguese from ancient Portuguese to modern Portuguese.
•know the geography of the Portuguese language in the world.

I. From Indo-European to Galician-Portuguese
1. Romance languages
2. Vulgar Latin
3. Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula
4. Superstrate and substrate in the Iberian Peninsula and the birth of Romance languages
5. Impact of the Reconquista and linguistic affirmation of the Galician-Portuguese
II. Portuguese language diachronically: some aspects
1. From Galician-Portuguese to Portuguese
2. The irradiation area of the Portuguese standard
3. Structure and characterization of the Portuguese vocabulary: brief overview
III. From classic Portuguese to modern Portuguese
1. Completed linguistic changes at the entry of the 16th century
2. Portuguese of the classic era (phonetic, phonological and lexical features)
3. From classic Portuguese to 18th century Portuguese (phonetic, phonological and lexical features)
4. Some recent linguistic innovations (especially at phonetic, phonological and lexical levels)
IV. The extra-European Portuguese
1. Portuguese Language Geography
2. Brazilian Portuguese
3. African Portuguese
4. Portuguese in Asia

CASTRO, Ivo, Curso de História da Língua Portuguesa, Lisboa, Universidade Aberta, 1991.

Complementary readings:
CARDEIRA, Esperança, História do Português, O Essencial sobre Linguística, Lisboa, Caminho, 2006.
CASTRO, Ivo, Introdução à História do Português, Lisboa, Edições Colibri, 2004.
PEREIRA, Dulce, Crioulos de Base Portuguesa, Colecção O essencial sobre Língua Portuguesa, Lisboa, Caminho, 2006.
TEYSSIER, Paul, História da Língua Portuguesa, Lisboa, Livraria Sá da Costa Editora, 2001 (ou outra edição desta obra).

Complementary readings - see course unit webpage at the e-learning platform.


Continuous assessment is privileged: 2 or 3 digital written documents (e-folios) during the semester (40%) and a presence-based final exam (p-folio) in the end of the semester (60%). In due time, students can alternatively choose to perform one final presence-based exam (100%).