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“why does Portuguese sound different from the other Romance languages?”

asked 2018-04-13 16:49:57 -0500

Denise gravatar image

Question asked by the character Amy Adams, a professor of linguistics, at the beginning of film "Arrival". Thank you.

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answered 2018-05-19 14:59:43 -0500

Gerard Cheshire gravatar image

It seems that Portuguese is closer to the ancestral language proto-Romance than the other Romance languages. There is a proto-Romance manuscript that originates from the island of Ischia, near Naples, Italy, which was within the Crown of Aragon at the time of writing, c. 1444. Both languages have similarities, so it seems that Portuguese has remained truer to its origin form, while the other Romance languages have evolved in different ways.

Proto-Romance came into being as the result of intense human activity in the Mediterranean during the Medieval, when it was the hub of the Occidental world. Spoken Latin was the vestige of the Roman Empire, but outsiders frequently visited the Mediterranean for reasons of trade, slavery, political conquest, royal marriage, migration and exchange of ideas. Consequently, spoken Latin became mixed with new words from other languages, so proto-Romance was a 'lingua franca' in order that people from many places were able to communicate in a common tongue.

As Portugal is isolated geographically from the Mediterranean it makes sense that linguistic memetic flow continued more readily among the other proto-Romance speaking countries during the Renaissance, leaving Portuguese to evolve more-or-less on its own. Thus, it sounds different from the other Romance languages.

For those interested, there are draft papers concerning the aforementioned manuscript freely available from the preprint website LingBuzz. &

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Asked: 2018-04-13 16:49:57 -0500

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Last updated: May 19 '18