Monday, October 23, 2006

The Museum of the Portuguese Language.

I don't want to get into the habit of constantly posting articles from the New York Times, but here's an item that I couldn't resist:
More people speak Portuguese as their native language than French, German, Italian or Japanese. So it can rankle the 230 million Portuguese speakers that the rest of the world often views their mother tongue as a minor language and that their novelists, poets and songwriters tend to be overlooked.

An effort is being made here in the world's largest Portuguese-speaking country [Brazil] to remedy that situation. The Museum of the Portuguese Language, with multimedia displays and interactive technology, recently opened here [in São Paulo], dedicated to the proposition that Portuguese speakers and their language can benefit from a bit of self-affirmation and self-advertisement.

"We hope this museum is the first step to showing ourselves, our culture and its importance to the world," said Antônio Carlos Sartini, the museum director. "A strategy to promote the Portuguese language has always been lacking, but from now on, maybe things can take another path."

The museum, which opened in March, has already become the most widely-visited in Brazil, drawing schoolchildren and scholars as well as tourists from Brazil and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.
In addition to discussing the new museum, the NYT article also touches upon the extensive differences between continental Portuguese and "the slangy, colorfully casual version of the language" spoken in Brazil as well as the foundation of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, an organization somewhat like La Francophonie in scope and intent. As a person of Portuguese heritage, I'm pleased that efforts are being made to promote and protect the language of my ancestors on a global level. I've often regretted the fact that I can't speak Portuguese, and someday I'd like to learn it - preferably first in the continental variety, though I'm not adverse to studying Brazilian Portuguese as well. When (God willing) I've picked up enough Portuguese to appreciate the exhibits at the Museu da Língua Portuguesa, hopefully I'll have the opportunity to go to São Paulo and check it out. AMDG.


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