May5

The language in which the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner José Saramago wrote, the Cape Verdean Cesária Évora sang, the Brazilian Chico Barque used to sing and the Mozambican Mia Couto continues to write.

In 2019, UNESCO officially proclaimed May 5th as ‘World Portuguese Language Day. With more than 260 million speakers over five continents (200 million in Brazil only), Portuguese ranks fifth – after Chinese, English, Spanish, and Hindustani – among world languages in number of native speakers.


It is also the fifth most used language on the Internet and the fourth most used on Facebook.
Portuguese can still be heard on the streets in Goa (India), Malacca (Malaysia), and Macau (China) as a reminder of the Portuguese Discoveries in the 15th century.
Someone who speaks Portuguese is called a Lusophone.


Spoken by 3,7% of the world population, Portuguese is the official language of the nine member countries of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) – comprising Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, São Tomé Príncipe and Timor East – an intergovernmental organization created in 1996.

Mainly due to the expected population growth in Africa, the United Nations estimates that in less than 30 years, the Portuguese language is to be spoken by some 400 million speakers worldwide. 


Originating from Latin – from which it involved into Galician-Portuguese – the language that would become Portuguese, began to be spoken in the Northwest Iberian Peninsula around the 6th century. From the 11th century onwards it expanded with the Christian reconquest to the South, at the same time influenced by Arabic from which many words derive. Especially the ones beginning with ‘al’ – like aldeia (village), alfândega (customs), or almofada (pillow).

The testament of the country’s third king Dom Afonso II – dated June 17, 1214 – is considered to be the oldest written text in Portuguese.
It marks the beginning of the period of ancient Portuguese that would last until the publication in 1572 of the first book in modern Portuguese, The Lusiads, Portugal’s national epic by Luis Camões.


Unlike English, Portuguese is binary, meaning that it only contains masculine and feminine gender in its words. Adjectives vary in gender, as do the articles that precede them.
The verb conjugation in Portuguese is usually classified as irregular, and for each person, a different verb conjugation is used.


The Portuguese of Brazil differs from that of Portugal. At the initiative of Brazil the last orthographic reform – aiming to unify the way of writing in all CPLP countries – was made mandatory in 2010, as the simplified spelling was still far from being applied everywhere, especially in Portugal.  



Enjoy your week                             Aproveite a semana               (pic Lusa)









 







Poor


‘Portugal is becoming a country of minimum wages’

Joana Gonçalves is 47 years old and works for 20 years as an operating assistant at the same hospital. Last year she earned 665 euros per month, just as much as the minimum wage. Deducting € 103,08 for Social Security and adding a food allowance of € 81.09, her net salary was 643,01 euros. Fifteen years ago Ana earned € 580, while the minimum wage was 430 euros. In the meantime, salaries have been frozen as a result of austerity measures while minimum wages increased. Her daughter Maria had to drop out of university because Joana had no longer money to support her. Maria is now cleaning in a supermarket.


Minimum wages in the EU member states range from € 332 per month in Bulgaria to  € 2257 euros in Luxembourg. Since the Socialist Government of António Costa seized power in 2015, the minimum wage has increased by 40% to € 705 this year. Average salaries, however, have only increased 10% during the same period.




‘This neglect to update the salaries of more qualified workers has caused strong distortions in the country. Nowadays more and more workers receive a salary very close to the minimum wage’, says economist Eugénio Rosa, advisor to the Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP). ‘Portugal is transforming into a country of minimum wages’.


The IEFP (Institute of Employment and Professional Training) proves the point. Of the 150 job vacancies on its site – aimed at civil engineers, electro technicians, mechanics, etc – the majority of salaries offered vary between €750 and €1000.


‘But it’s anything but easy to get out of this trap’, explains Fernando Alexandre, professor at the School of Economics from the University of Minho in Braga.


‘Not only is our minimum wage one of the lowest in Europe, our country was last year one of the EU countries with the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the country’s wealth-producing capacity per worker. Only Bulgaria was doing worse’.  


To make matters worse, the pandemic has condemned hundreds of thousands of Portuguese into poverty. These ‘new poor’ are almost all people who already earned a minimum wage – or even less – before the pandemic. Workers in the tourism sector, restaurants, and hospitality were most hit by the restrictions to contain the pandemic. Women – especially the elderly – are among the most affected.


The bottom line is that today one in five Portuguese is at risk of poverty. In children, the risk is even greater (22%). Food banks have become indispensable. There are more than 2000 institutions – parishes and councils identifying the populations’ needs – which have partnerships with the 21 food banks that are feeding approximately 450.000 persons (4% of the population).



Enjoy your week                   Aproveite a semana               (pic Público/Sapo)