Portuguese, a language of future
Pluricentric and congregational, it makes us both simultaneously diverse and united
Originally written in Portuguese by Francisco Ribeiro Telles, executive secretary of CPLC (Community of Portuguese-speaking countries), Folha de Sao Paulo, 4 May 2021.
This Wednesday (5) is celebrated around the four corners of the world the World Portuguese Language Day. The date was set by the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLC) in 2009 and consecrated by UNESCO in the end of 2019, as the international language day.
I remembered that the CPLC had a decisive impulse in 1989, when at the invitation of the then Brazilian president Jose Sarney, took place in Sao Luis Do Maranhao the first encounter of the head of states and governments from Portuguese-speaking countries — Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Sao Tome and Principe. In this meeting, it was decided to create the International Institute of the Portuguese Language (IILP) and in 1996, in Lisbon, was born the CPLC, an intergovernmental organisation that settles in one common language, that was and continues to be its main identity, remaining until today as a fundamental pillar and congregational element from all countries and people that share it.
Portuguese language is, above all else, a heritage of all those who use it and that have been feeding it and valuing it over centuries, appropriating, recreating and living it today as a main element of their own identity.
Portuguese, with more than 260 million speakers from all over the world, is the fifth language most spoken in the planet and the first in the southern hemisphere, thanks to Brazil. It is also one of the most spoken languages on internet and in the social media. The United Nations estimates that it may reach in the end of this century, 500 million speakers, taking into account the demographic growth of the African countries that integrates the CPLP, namely Angola and Mozambique.
The declaration of the World Portuguese Language Day by UNESCO, celebrated for the first time last year, represents the valuable recognition of the Portuguese as a global language of communication, increasingly present in innovation, research, scientific and technological knowledge, in business, arts, literature and also in diplomacy, being present as official working language on dozens of international organisations, including the Mercosur, European Union and African Union.
For all this to have happened, Brazil had a central role. Not only because of its demographic dimension, but also for its influence that projects in different areas at a global scale, while preserving an unusual linguistic unity. And what a better symbiosis between the past, present and future of our language than the Portuguese Language Museum, erected in Sao Paulo, in what is the largest and most dynamic Portuguese-speaking city in the world!
Our language is pluricentric, it makes us both simultaneously diverse and united and heirs of a common history and lived experience left by our ancestors.
As Guimaraes Rosa said: “My motto is: language and life are one thing only. Who does not make the language a reflection of their personality doesn’t live; and as life is a direct current, the language also should be constantly evolving.”
Translation Iata Saldanha