Portuguese has new rules in place since Wednesday 13th May, 2015.
The rules are supposed to apply to all the countries where Portuguese is the official language. Added up, that is approximately 261,000 million people, although Brazil has nearly 80% of the world’s Portuguese speakers.
The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement (Portuguese abbreviation: NaO) was signed in 1990 and began being implemented in 2009.
After an initial transition period, official documents from public institutions started to be written exclusively according to the new rules in May 2012. In schools the new rules have been phased in since 2011.
The NaO agreement’s main goal is to standardize the sixth most spoken language in the world. (The most spoken is Mandarin, then come Spanish, English, Hindi and Arabic.)
The Portuguese written word is being brought closer to the spoken word, creating a unified spelling to be used in all Portuguese-speaking countries.
NaO was signed by official representatives of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe. Timor-Leste signed in 2004. Angola and Mozambique have not yet ratified it.
Until NaO, orthographic rules differed between Brazil and the other Portuguese-speaking countries.
Examples? How about ‘penguin’ spelled according to the (lately) Brazilian standard, ‘pingüim’, while the Portugal standard is (was) ‘pinguim’.
Some observers dismiss the perceived ‘ownership’ of language as pedantic, and dismiss NaO as silly.
But the new rules are now law.
‘Hey buddy, what did they jail you for?’ —- ‘Spelled ‘penguin’ wrong.’
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