May 5 — World Day of the Portuguese Language

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May 5 — World Day of the Portuguese Language — was the date chosen on the 40thThe UNESCO General Conference for celebrate the language and culture of countries that have Portuguese as their official language. Therefore, on that day, cinema, literature and music from these countries are also honored, as they are responsible for preserving the language, in addition to making it cross linguistic borders and cultural.

On that day, all countries are invited to perform activities that celebrate this language, which can range from showing films to holding debates about the language, which has been honored by writers such as Olavo Bilac and Clarice Lispector.

Read too: May 1st - Day of Brazilian Literature

Origin of the World Day of the Portuguese Language

In day November 25, 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in its 40thThe General Conference, proclaimed the 5th of May as the World Day of the Portuguese Language. According to the "Conference Minutes"

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|1|, the choice of a day to celebrate the Portuguese language is justified by the “contribution of the Portuguese language in the preservation and dissemination of human civilization and culture”.

Nine countries are members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
Nine countries are members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

For this decision, the fact that:

  • “Portuguese is the language of nine UNESCO Member States”,
  • “it is the official language of three continental organizations and of the General Conference of UNESCO”,
  • "is spoken by more than 265 million people", Besides being
  • “the most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere”.

Still, the choice of a day to honor, every year, the Portuguese language was also due to the “need to establish a broader cooperation between peoples through multilingualism, cultural approximation and dialogue between civilizations”.

And also to the “2009 resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), which instituted the 5th of May as the Day of Portuguese Language and Culture in the CPLP", and the "guarantees offered by the States that have Portuguese as their official language, in relation to safeguarding, conservation and celebration of this language, as well as its active commitment to promoting a worldwide day of the Portuguese language and participation in him".

Thus, it is the role of the UNESCO Directorate-General to promote “the celebration of the World Day of the Portuguese Language” and to encourage “the Member States, especially those of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), and other interested parties to participate in this celebration in the way that each one considers most appropriate”.

What does the World Day of the Portuguese Language celebrate?

Portuguese colonizers conquered lands and imposed their language.
Portuguese colonizers conquered lands and imposed their language.

THE Iberian Peninsula, from the Roman domination started in 219 a. C., went through a miscegenation process and acculturation. Thus, for centuries, Latin predominated in most of this region, and it was from the vulgar Latin, spoken by the people, that the Portuguese language emerged. However, in the eighth century, the Muslim invasion took place, which maintained Arab rule in the south of the peninsula until the Christians regained that territory.

During the regain, the peninsula was divided between the kingdoms of Leon, Castile and Aragon, ruled, in the 11th century, by King Alfonso VI (1047-1109), who celebrated the marriage of his daughter Urraca with the knight Raimundo and gave her Galicia as a dowry. Knight Henrique, on the other hand, married the king's other daughter, Teresa, and won the Portucale County. D. Henrique de Burgundy (1066-1112), then, increased his territory in the fight against the Moors, and so Portugal emerged.

THE Mixing Vulgar Latin with the languages ​​of the regions dominated by the Romans gave rise to several dialects, called romance, what led to the so-called neo-Latin languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, among others). Thus, in the Iberian Peninsula, the following languages ​​predominated: Catalan, Castilian and Galician-Portuguese.

This last one was spoken in the Galicia is on Portugal, between the 12th and 14th centuries. From the 14th century onwards, the way of speaking in the Lisbon region began to predominate. Then, the Portuguese language emerged, but it was only in the 16th century that this language took on the characteristics consistent with current Portuguese.

At the end of the 15th century, Portugal began its process of expansion, which resulted in cultural influence in the dominated countries, including the imposition of the Portuguese language. Thus, the countries that today have the Portuguese language as official e principal, in addition to Portugal, are: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor.

Therefore, the World Day of the Portuguese Language celebrates the history of these countries and honors the 265 million people who speak Portuguese today. As it is a worldwide date, countries that do not speak Portuguese also pay homage to this language, which allows them to have, on that day, greater contact with the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries. By celebrating this language, it is also possible to encourage its preservation, as the death of any language also implies the death of the culture related to it.

Each country is free to celebrate this day in whatever way it sees fit. Therefore, schools and public agencies can promote events about the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries, to encourage the learning of Portuguese as a second language (in countries where it is not official), as well as to debate the importance of preservation of the Portuguese language (in countries where it is official) as a vehicle for the transmission of culture, based on books, films and songs.

Read too: March 21 — World Poetry Day

Activities on the World Day of the Portuguese Language

Watching films recorded in Portuguese is also a way to celebrate the language.
Watching films recorded in Portuguese is also a way to celebrate the language.

For the 5th of May, World Day of the Portuguese Language, we suggest the following state activities, whether in countries whose official language is Portuguese, or in other countries:

  • movie show: the production of films in Portuguese is extensive and little known even in countries that share that language; thus, there are many Brazilians who have never seen a Portuguese or Angolan film, for example.
  • International Literature Competition in Portuguese Language: encouraging the production of poetry and prose, in Portuguese and whose theme is the Portuguese language, can generate reflections on the language and stimulate writing in that language.
  • Music Festival: the presentation of singers and singers, bands and musical groups, in order to disseminate written lyrics in Portuguese, it can be a way to value not only the language, but also the compositions in the language. Portuguese.

Already in the scope school and academic:

  • debates (colloquia, symposiums, congresses), whose theme is the Portuguese language, which can cover linguistics, literature, music, cinema, history and sociology.
  • Presentation of the result of researches, coordinated by professors or academics, whose theme is the Portuguese language.
  • Workshops literary writing in Portuguese, reciting poetry and reading other texts.
  • Presentations of singers, singers and amateur bands, with their own compositions, in Portuguese.
  • Realization of short films focusing on regional differences or language curiosities.

Also access: April 18 - National Children's Book Day


Writing is a declaration of love for the Portuguese language.
Writing is a declaration of love for the Portuguese language.

Below, two texts that pay homage to the Portuguese language. The first one is the sonnet of olavo bilac (1865-1918): Portuguese language. In this poem, the lyrical self calls the Portuguese language the “last flower of Lazio”. Lazio is a region of Italy. Therefore, he refers to Vulgar Latin, the origin of Portuguese. Therefore, the flower (the language) is uncultivated but beautiful. It's splendid, but it's also a grave, since Latin is a dead language.

In this way, the lyrical self praises the Portuguese language: beautiful, splendid, gold, and, at the same time, shows the rusticity of its origin: uncultivated, impure gangue, rough mine, gravel. Then, he declares his love for the portuguese language, which, despite being rude and painful, is her cultural and emotional heritage:

Lazio's last flower, uncultivated and beautiful,
You are, at the same time, splendor and grave:
Native gold, which in impure denim
The crude mine among the gravel sails...

I love you like this, unknown and obscure,
Loud tuba, simple lyre,
That you have the trumpet and the hiss of the storm
And the list of nostalgia and tenderness!

I love your wild freshness and your aroma
Of virgin jungles and the wide ocean!
I love thee, O rude and painful language,

In which from the maternal voice I heard: "my son!"
And when Camões wept, in bitter exile,
The blissless genius and the lackluster love!

The raw material of writers is language. It is only natural that they are the ones who have the most to say about her. If Olavo Bilac used poetry, Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) resorted to prose. Thus, the second text is a chronicle by this writer, with the suggestive title of declaration of love. A statement that ends with the desire for fidelity to language:

“This is a confession of love: I love the Portuguese language. She is not easy. It is not malleable. And, as she has not been deeply worked by thought, her tendency is not to have subtleties and to react to times with a real kick against those who recklessly dare to transform it into a language of feeling and alertness. And love. The Portuguese language is a real challenge for anyone who writes. Especially for those who write taking away from things and people the first layer of superficiality.

Sometimes she reacts to a more complicated thought. Sometimes you are startled by the unpredictability of a sentence. I like handling it—how I liked being on a horse and leading it by the reins, sometimes slowly, sometimes at a gallop.
I wanted the Portuguese language to reach the maximum in my hands. And this desire everyone who writes has. A Camões and others like it were not enough to give us a legacy of an already made language forever. All of us who write are making the grave of thought something that gives it life.
These difficulties, we have them. But I did not speak of the enchantment of dealing with a language that has not been deepened. What I received as an inheritance is not enough for me.
If I were dumb, and couldn't write either, and they asked me what language I wanted to belong to, I would say: English, which is precise and beautiful. But since I wasn't born dumb and could write, it became absolutely clear to me that what I really wanted was to write in Portuguese. I even wish I hadn't learned other languages: just so that my approach to Portuguese was virgin and clear.”


|1|Translation of the quoted excerpts from the “Ata”, from Spanish to Portuguese, by Warley Souza.

by Warley Souza
Literature teacher

Source: Brazil School -
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