Portuguese Spelling Reform Turns 10 Years Old In Brazil

Reform took effect in 2009 in all Brazil. Eight other countries with Portuguese as their official language also signed the agreement

São Paulo

While Portugal an the Portuguese-speaking African countries followed an orthographic agreement set in 1945, Brazil followed another system, dated from 1943.

Discussions to unify spelling across all lusophone countries stated during the mid-1960s, but the new spelling reform would be approved only decades later, in 1990.

On January 1st, 2009, Brazil adopted the new spelling reform, the first country to put it in practice. During that year and the next, Portugal and Cabo Verde started to implement it.

Between 2015 and 2016, the three countries had the reform fully implemented. The others are making slower progress.

The changes included ending the use of umlaut (¨) in all cases; abolishing the circumflex (ˆ) and the acute accent (´) in some instances; and considering K, W, and Y as official letters in the Portuguese alphabet.

The agreement affects 0.8% of words in Brazil and 1.6% in Portugal, which helps explain the higher resistance of the Portuguese to the spelling reform.

Carlos Alberto Faraco, a retired professor of Portuguese language at Universidade Federal do Paraná, who was part of the specialist committee who helped the Brazilian government to put the reform in practice, see no reason to change anything at this point.

José Carlos de Azeredo, the author of the grammar book "Gramática Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa," also considers the new reform to have been successful. However, he thinks some adjustments are necessary, especially in the use of hyphens.

But Azeredo acknowledges that another agreement at this point would require "an extremely complex process." After the decades-long negotiations that culminated in the 1990 consensus, it's unlikely that the Lusophony would reopen the debate.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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