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.
Más vale sentir en la nuca el hálito glacial del invierno que el caluroso aliento de un elefante enfurecido.
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.
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.
We also often notice words in Spanish that are now old-fashioned or have changed meaning in Portuguese.
Last edited by Outsider; 31st March 2012 at 1:15 PM. Reason: just moving a few sentences around for consistency
Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.
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.
Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
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.
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.
Melius est reprehendant grammatici quam non intellegant populi.
* Or Galician-Portuguese, if you will.
easternwestern 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.
Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.
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
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.
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".
Last edited by XiaoRoel; 11th May 2012 at 2:55 PM.
καὶ Αιὲν ο κόσμος ο μικρὀς, ο Μέγας! - e sempre o mundo o pequeno, o Grande!