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Thread: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

  1. #21
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    Yes, of course. In this context "Italian dialects" obviously means "dialects of Latin spoken in Italy".
    Thanks, I thought you meant the dialects formed after Latin was dead.

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    It depends how you look at the question. From a purely Spanish point of view, Portuguese seems older and more conservative, so probably closer to Latin. In fact Portuguese helps me understand old Spanish literature. Just a few thoughts: 1) phonetics- the pronunciation of consonants like f, s,z, g, j, x used to be pronounced like in Portuguese but have shifted into very different sounds in Spanish. 2) orthography in old Spanish resembles Portuguese (ç, ss, x). 3) Portuguese keeps alive some verb tenses lost in Spanish (future subjunctive, pluperfect indicative), also the preterite is used more like in older versions of Spanish. 4) In morphology, dipthonging occurred intensively in Spanish, but hasn't occurred in portuguese yet (sorte, porto, terra not suerte, puerto, tierra) 4) Lots of words that have long since died out in Spanish are still used in Portuguese (coitado...)

    All these make me believe Portuguese to be the more conservative of the languages.

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    It depends how you look at the question. From a purely Spanish point of view, Portuguese seems older and more conservative, so probably closer to Latin. In fact Portuguese helps me understand old Spanish literature. Just a few thoughts: 1) phonetics- the pronunciation of consonants like f, s,z, g, j, x used to be pronounced like in Portuguese but have shifted into very different sounds in Spanish. 2) orthography in old Spanish resembles Portuguese (ç, ss, x). 3) Portuguese keeps alive some verb tenses lost in Spanish (future subjunctive, pluperfect indicative), also the preterite is used more like in older versions of Spanish. 4) In morphology, dipthonging occurred intensively in Spanish, but hasn't occurred in portuguese yet (sorte, porto, terra not suerte, puerto, tierra) 4) Lots of words that have long since died out in Spanish are still used in Portuguese (coitado...)

    All these make me believe Portuguese to be the more conservative of the languages.
    I also have this impression when I read something in Portuguese, but perhaps it is purely subjective. It would be interesting to know what is the impression of Portuguese speakers when reading in Spanish.
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    When asking if one language is more conservative than another it assumes that there is some yardstick for measuring change and that you have decided what you are measuring. What weight should be given to phonological, morphological and lexical changes?

    Many of the things I buy here in Spain have instructions on them in both Spanish and Portuguese. Comparing the two it is obvious that you are looking at two closely related languages. However, listen to someone read them out loud and it is a different story. The other day I was listening to a concert from Lisbon and could understand nothing of what the announcer said. (That contrasts with listening to a concert from Italy where I can at least usually follow the drift.) It is a well-observed phenomenon that intelligibility between spoken Portuguese and Spanish is essentially only one way. Whilst phonological changes only need to be minimal to prevent intelligibility (cf this thread) this suggests that at least on the phonological front it is Spanish and not Portuguese that is the more conservative.

    Someone said that all Romance languages are similar to each other apart from French; I would be inclined to add to that Romanian and Portuguese. If one disregards geography and politics, then the Romance languages can be seen to comprise an inner circle of languages (e.g. Spanish, Catalan, Occitan and Italian) that have more in common with each other than with those in the outer circle of languages (e.g. French, Portuguese and Romanian) exhibiting distinct wayward tendencies. Such a classification is though perhaps no guide to degrees of conservativeness since Romanian has preserved three genders and some of the cases of Latin.

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    When asking if one language is more conservative than another it assumes that there is some yardstick for measuring change and that you have decided what you are measuring. What weight should be given to phonological, morphological and lexical changes?

    Many of the things I buy here in Spain have instructions on them in both Spanish and Portuguese. Comparing the two it is obvious that you are looking at two closely related languages. However, listen to someone read them out loud and it is a different story. The other day I was listening to a concert from Lisbon and could understand nothing of what the announcer said. (That contrasts with listening to a concert from Italy where I can at least usually follow the drift.) It is a well-observed phenomenon that intelligibility between spoken Portuguese and Spanish is essentially only one way. Whilst phonological changes only need to be minimal to prevent intelligibility (cf this thread) this suggests that at least on the phonological front it is Spanish and not Portuguese that is the more conservative.

    Someone said that all Romance languages are similar to each other apart from French; I would be inclined to add to that Romanian and Portuguese. If one disregards geography and politics, then the Romance languages can be seen to comprise an inner circle of languages (e.g. Spanish, Catalan, Occitan and Italian) that have more in common with each other than with those in the outer circle of languages (e.g. French, Portuguese and Romanian) exhibiting distinct wayward tendencies. Such a classification is though perhaps no guide to degrees of conservativeness since Romanian has preserved three genders and some of the cases of Latin.
    Probably what throws you off in Portuguese are all the reduced vowel sounds in unstressed syllables. Everything becomes a kind of schwa sound and whole syllables drop off complete. Maybe also the nasal combinations they have. All vowel sounds in Spanish are pure, just like in Italian. So I'd agree that regarding vowel sounds Portuguese is highly innovative. But as for consonants it's the opposite. Spanish has changed weakened or modified probably most consonants in some way or another.
    Put two languages together, even if linguistically they are basically the same, with one of them modifying consonants, the other vowel sounds, I suppose intelligibility will obviously occur.

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by miguel89 View Post
    I also have this impression when I read something in Portuguese, but perhaps it is purely subjective. It would be interesting to know what is the impression of Portuguese speakers when reading in Spanish.
    I might say something similar about Spanish. For example, regarding phonology: yes, overall Portuguese is more conservative as far as f, g, j are concerned. But as far as the sibilants are concerned, it's more complicated. Portuguese did retain the voiceless-voiced contrasts that were lost in Spanish: ss vs. -s-, ç/c vs. z, x vs. j/g. But then Portuguese is (overwhelmingly) seseante, while at least standard Spanish still distinguishes s from c/z in speech. Of course, most Spanish dialects are actually seseantes, too. On the other hand, unstressed vowels are definitely more conservative (closer to Latin and Italian) in Spanish than in Portuguese, as others have remarked...

    We also often notice words in Spanish that are now old-fashioned or have changed meaning in Portuguese.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    I would be inclined to add to that Romanian and Portuguese. If one disregards geography and politics, then the Romance languages can be seen to comprise an inner circle of languages (e.g. Spanish, Catalan, Occitan and Italian) that have more in common with each other than with those in the outer circle of languages (e.g. French, Portuguese and Romanian) exhibiting distinct wayward tendencies.
    Catalan vowels, at least in some of its dialects, are not that far apart from (European) Portuguese vowels. The acoustic impression which the two make is remarkably similar, although I would add that at a deeper level, when one adds other linguistic dimensions, Spanish and Portuguese are overall clearly closer to each other than either of them is to Catalan.
    Last edited by Outsider; 31st March 2012 at 1:15 PM. Reason: just moving a few sentences around for consistency
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  7. #27
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    I don't believe Portuguese is more conservative than Spanish (or the other way around). That's because all are living languages, so perhaps Portuguese changed in some aspects of the language and Spanish could be changed in other aspects, as it could be grammar, syntax or others, differents from Portuguese. Perhaps your overall appreciation outside the iberian area could be that, but, in fact, all living languages has got that. Dead languages don't success this.
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider View Post
    We also often notice words in Spanish that are now old-fashioned or have changed meaning in Portuguese.
    Yes, I have some native Spanish speaker friends living here in Brazil who use words like todavia or interceptar in the spoken language, which are almost only found in written portuguese.

    Actually, I doubt that most of these words that are common use in Spanish but old fashioned in Portuguese can trace their origin all the way down to spoken Latin, but I have the feeling that the opposite (common use in Portuguese with old fashioned cognate in Spanish) is much less common.

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by miguel89 View Post
    I also have this impression when I read something in Portuguese, but perhaps it is purely subjective. It would be interesting to know what is the impression of Portuguese speakers when reading in Spanish.
    I'm not a native speaker, but in the case of Brazil the same is true. Some forms and usages common in Spanish are considered formal or old fashioned in Brazilian Portuguese. I sometimes use Creio que instead acho que and I am always corrected by people. And most notable in most of Brazil people don’t use tu. Thought it should be noted that European Portuguese is conservative in its grammar while Brazilian Portuguese is more conservative in phonics. So I think some things that are formal in Brazil are in common use in Portugal. Overall I get the feeling that Old Portuguese and Old Castilian were close enough to be considered dialects of each other, but the political separation of Portugal and Spain caused them to drift apart.

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Before the emergence of the different Iberian kingdoms, in the VI century the common day speech may not have been that different throughout the entire peninsula, and maybe the dialectal continuum was not as marked and still didn’t hinder intelligibility. I wonder how other languages such as Old Gallego and Leones-Arturiano used at their respective courts before the successful emergence of the dialects of nascent Condados of Castille or Portugal, influence the latter? Maybe the latter are less conservative in all aspects.
    Saludos
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUMBERT0 View Post
    I wonder how other languages such as Old Gallego and Leones-Arturiano used at their respective courts before the successful emergence of the dialects of nascent Condados of Castille or Portugal, influence the latter? Maybe the latter are less conservative in all aspects.
    Saludos
    Well at the time Gallego was and debatably still is a dialect of Portuguese.

  12. #32
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by killerbee256 View Post
    Well at the time Gallego was and debatably still is a dialect of Portuguese.
    And/or vice versa…

  13. #33
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by killerbee256 View Post
    Well at the time Gallego was and debatably still is a dialect of Portuguese.
    Old Galego was the parent language of both modern Galego and Portuguese. Divergence between the two occurred after the border was set up and political separation became permanent.

  14. #34
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    And/or vice versa…
    Indeed. It's purely a matter of labels. Academics call the medieval language Galician-Portuguese to emphasize that the two simply weren't distinguished.
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUMBERT0 View Post
    I wonder how other languages such as Old Gallego and Leones-Arturiano used at their respective courts before the successful emergence of the dialects of nascent Condados of Castille or Portugal, influence the latter? Maybe the latter are less conservative in all aspects.
    King Alfonso X of Castile chose to compile a series of songs to Our Lady in Galician*. Why? I wouldn't know, I wasn't born yet...

    Quote Originally Posted by killerbee256 View Post
    Well at the time Gallego was and debatably still is a dialect of Portuguese.
    Quite frankly, I fail to comprehend why so many people insist on underrating Galician language (of old and of today) by making such kind of comments. Would you be so kind as to state your case?

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    And/or vice versa…
    Personally, I'm for 'or' but not 'and'. The 'politically correct' answer is rather:

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider View Post
    Academics call the medieval language Galician-Portuguese to emphasize that the two simply weren't distinguished.
    Which I agree to.


    * Or Galician-Portuguese, if you will.

  16. #36
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by Miguel Antonio View Post
    King Alfonso X of Castile chose to compile a series of songs to Our Lady in Galician*. Why? I wouldn't know, I wasn't born yet...
    It was the language traditionally used by peninsular troubadors, as I understand. (I wonder, though, if this was extensive to the whole of Iberia, or just the central and eastern western regions; surely in the east Catalan/Valencian/Occitan would have been the preferred choice...)
    Last edited by Outsider; 10th May 2012 at 1:17 PM.
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider View Post
    [...] surely in the east Catalan/Valencian/Occitan would have been the preferred choice...)
    Here Provençal (Occitan) was regarded as "the most beautiful language", and was widely used in poetry. I've never heard about any Valencian/Catalan author from that time using anything other than Provençal, Catalan, Latin or (rarely) Arabic.
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    Portuguese has made also important innovations that are far from conservative. Specially the extensive use of infinitives, for example in conditional sentences.
    Even has created the “personal infinitive” that is typical of Portuguese
    I copy and paste from wikipedia
    Infinitivo pessoal

    Formação

    O infinitivo pessoal é formado a partir do infinitivo impessoal, adicionando-se as desinências iguais às do futuro do subjuntivo: -, -es, -, -mos, -des, -em. Por isso, nos verbos regulares esses dois tempos se confundem.
    Exemplo: cantar, cantares, cantar, cantarmos, cantardes, cantarem. Uso

    Costuma-se usar o infinitivo pessoal quando:

    • refere-se a um sujeito próprio, diferente do da oração principal;

    Para conseguirmos sair, alguém precisa destrancar a porta.
    • o sujeito a que se refere é expresso antes do infinitivo;

    Para nós conseguirmos sair, precisamos abrir a porta.
    • o sujeito é indeterminado na terceira pessoa do plural.

  19. #39
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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    I don't know much about Latin, but as for all I know the extensive usage of infinitive constructions is one of the most distinctive features of Latin syntax, rather than object clauses common to most of Romance (and other modern Indoeuropean) languages. Of course, the usage is not exactly the same, but I imagine that Portuguese personal infinitve has inherited many functions of the Latin infinitive clauses.
    The fact that future subjunctive and personal infinitve are morphologically identical for almost all verbs may be confusing, but they are distinct forms: "no caso de ires à praia irei contigo" is not exactly the same as "se fordes à praia irei contigo".

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    Re: Spanish, Portuguese which is more conservative?

    This link is classic academic information on the subject of the origins of Portuguese. More information. More. A modern bibliography.
    Last edited by XiaoRoel; 11th May 2012 at 2:55 PM.
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