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Article

History of the Portuguese Lexicon  

Bernhard Pöll

The basic vocabulary of Portuguese—the second largest Romance language in terms of speakers (about 210 million as of 2017)—comes from (vulgar) Latin, which itself incorporated a certain amount of so-called substratum and superstratum words. Whereas the former were adopted in a situation of language contact between Latin and the languages of the conquered peoples inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula, the latter are Germanic loans brought mainly by the Visigoths. From 711 onward, until the end of the Middle Ages, Arabic played a major role in the Peninsula, contributing about 1,000 words that are common in Modern Portuguese. (Classical) Latin and Greek were other sources for lexical enrichment especially in the 15th and 16th centuries as well as in the 18th and 19th centuries. Contact with other European languages—Romance and Germanic (especially English, and to a lower extent German)—led to borrowings in several thematic fields reflecting the economic, cultural, and scientific radiance that emanated from the respective language communities. In the course of colonial expansion, Portuguese came into contact with several African, Asian, and Amerindian languages from which it borrowed words for concepts and realia unknown to the Western world.

Article

Portuguese-Lexified Creoles  

J. Clancy Clements

The Portuguese colonial enterprise has had myriad and long-lasting consequences, not the least of which involves language. The many Portuguese-lexified creole languages in Africa and Asia are the product of Portugal’s colonial past. The creoles to be discussed that developed in Africa belong to two subgroups: the Upper Guinea Creoles (Cape Verdean, Guiné Bissau Creole, Casamance Creole) and the Gulf of Guinea Creoles (Santome, Angolar, Principense, Fa d’Ambô). Among the Asian Portuguese creoles, three subgroups are distinguishable, based on shared linguistic traits: the northern Indian group (Diu, Daman, Korlai), which retains some verbal morphology from Portuguese and distinguishes the subject/object case and informal-formal forms in the pronominal systems; Sri Lanka Creole, which retains less Portuguese verbal morphology but distinguishes the subject/object case and informal-formal forms in the pronominal system; and the East Asian group (Papiá Kristang, Makista), which retains very little, if any, Portuguese verbal morphology and has no informal-formal or subject/object case distinctions in the pronominal systems. Despite these differences, all creoles share a common lexicon, to a large extent, and, to varying degrees, aspects of Portuguese culture.

Article

The Language of Chemistry in the Romance Languages  

Cecilio Garriga Escribano

The language of chemistry has seldom been the object of study by linguists, who tend to prioritize literary works. Nevertheless, in recent years its study has developed at a different pace for each of the Romance languages. It is therefore important to describe the current state of research separately for French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Catalan. The work of historians of science, who have always dedicated particular attention to the language of chemistry, is particularly pertinent to this purpose. Toward the end of the 18th century, French chemists spearheaded a terminological revolution: traditional terms used in alchemy were replaced by a well-structured, systematic nomenclature that was quickly adopted by the scientific community, mainly through the translation of French chemical texts, many of which were pedagogical in nature. It is important to trace the dissemination process of new chemical nomenclature in each country and in each language, since it was not uniform. This new nomenclature is firmly based on the classical languages, particularly Greek, and it adopts a broad range of suffixes and prefixes for systematization. During the 19th century, this system steadily consolidated as the field of chemistry developed until a standardized international nomenclature was established. From a lexicographical standpoint, the treatment of chemical terms in both general and specialized dictionaries deserves attention. Traditional lexicography has mistakenly classified many chemical terms as Hellenisms, while from the early 21st century onward they have been recognized as Gallicisms thanks to research carried out by historians of scientific language. Finally, the procedures the Romance languages follow to coin chemical terms—both to name elements and chemicals and to express chemical combinations by means of word formation processes—must be taken into account.