Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Linguistics. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 06 December 2023

Spanish and Portuguese Outside Europelocked

Spanish and Portuguese Outside Europelocked

  • J. Clancy ClementsJ. Clancy ClementsIndiana University-Bloomington


With their 625 million native speakers, Spanish and Portuguese are the two most widely spoken and most important Ibero-Romance languages in the world. In their colonial expansion, both languages have come into contact with other languages in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. For Portuguese in Brazil, the strong presence of Africans and their descendants over several centuries seems to have contributed to the changes found in varieties and registers of this dialect that are rarely found or are absent in European Portuguese, features such as the variable use of stressed pronouns instead of object clitic pronouns, variable subject–verb agreement, and phrase-final negation. In East Timor Portuguese, the salient features are those found in second- and subsequent language acquisition, such as the use of present-tense or nonfinite verb forms to refer to past situations. Portuguese in Angola and Mozambique exhibits features expected in naturalistic subsequent language acquisition, such as variation in preposition and determiner use and native-language transfer. For Spanish in the Americas, it spans an enormous area and dialectal variation does not adhere to national boundaries. Three general areas are considered: Mexico, the Caribbean (Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), and Argentina. While overall the grammatical system is relatively homogeneous, there is a pattern of change found in the coastal areas due to the diversity and density of the populations in these areas. The key features that distinguish the three varieties involve the pronunciation of syllable-final /s/ and different pronominal systems. The most significant changes in morphosyntactic structure are found in those areas in which Spanish and Indigenous languages are in contact, two examples of which are Spanish in the Andean region and in Paraguay. In Andean Spanish, the realization of /e, o/ as /i, u/, respectively, and object–verb order are not uncommon, traits present due to Quechua. For its part, Paraguayan Spanish (also called Jopara) is in a diglossic situation with Guarani and exhibits lexical and grammatical features taken from or influenced by Guarani.


  • Language Families/Areas/Contact

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription