Brazilian Portuguese as a Transatlantic Language: Agencies of Linguistic Contact

Esmeralda Vailati Negrão, Evani Viotti


This paper aims at presenting a picture of the situation of language contact in which Brazilian Portuguese emerged. This variety of Portuguese exhibits many characteristics that set it apart from European Portuguese, and that may be the outcome of the intense and extensive contact between 16th-century Portuguese and many African languages in Africa and in Brazil, and with an immense variety of Native Brazilian languages in the colonial territory. Although Brazilian Portuguese emerged in a multilingual colonial setting, it cannot be considered a creole language. This is due to the fact that the somewhat close contact between Portuguese and Africans which started in Africa, albeit not egalitarian, was maintained in the new American colony. The model of language evolution and change proposed by Mufwene (2001, 2008) is used to suggest how Brazilian Portuguese can be considered as the outcome of language contact.


Brazilian Portuguese; language contact; multilingualism; African languages; colonization of West and Central Africa.

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