Portuguese Materials for Study Purposes – versus -- Reforms of Portuguese Orthography

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Portuguese Materials for Study Purposes – versus -- Reforms of Portuguese Orthography

Postby Speakeasy » Mon May 27, 2019 11:15 pm

I am opening this discussion thread on behalf of Elsa Maria, and anyone else who might be considering the study of Portuguese. More particularly, there exists a large number of older courses for this language which were published before the reforms to Portuguese orthography many of which are still in use. As these courses predate the reforms, a number of questions arise. Here is the brief exchange that Elsa Maria and I had under the “General Linguaphone Discussion” thread:
Elsa Maria wrote:I'm looking at getting Linguaphone for Dutch and/or European Portuguese … Is the Portuguese course new enough that I don't have to worry about orthography reforms? I haven't yet sorted out when Portuguese orthography changed enough to matter for beginner courses.
Speakeasy wrote:… As to the Linguaphone Portuguese course, which was completely rewritten in 1987, and the influence of the subsequent orthography reforms, I would not discount these materials over such a minor issue. Both of these courses differ greatly in their approach to teaching from those of the previous generation (1970’s). They are far more demanding of the student and, as such, more effective, in my opinion.
Elsa Maria wrote:… I do not know enough about Portuguese spelling reforms to know that they are a minor issue. Looking around on Linguaphone's website, I found out that the Portuguese course is available in a download version but the Dutch one is not. I was torn over which one to try first, but I think that Portuguese wins.
Although I was not overly-concerned by the presence of pre-reform text in the Assimil, Cortina, DLI, FSI, Linguaphone, Living Language, Routledge, and and other Portuguese courses that I used, Elsa Maria’s questions are quite valid are definitely worth discussing.

So then, the questions to the members are: given the reforms, (a) to what extent are these pre-reform courses still valid, (b) what are their deficiencies, and (c) what additional measures should the independent-learner take to compensate for the latter?

I have appended a couple of links for quick reference.

Reforms of Portuguese orthography - Wikipedia

Portuguese orthography - Wikipedia
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Re: Portuguese Materials for Study Purposes – versus -- Reforms of Portuguese Orthography

Postby iguanamon » Tue May 28, 2019 12:33 am

As usual, it depends. I did the DLI Portuguese Basic Course which dates from September of 1968 some 22 years before the 1990 orthographic reform and it's latter installation across the Lusophone world. Some lessons are even older than that and talk about traveling by ship to Rio from New York. The orthography wasn't that much different from today. There's a reason for that. The spelling reform adopted many of the Brazilian spellings.

I am currently reading "Cartas de Inglaterra" by José Maria Eça de Queirós. The book was published in 1905 and the letters date from his time when he was stationed as a diplomat in Newcastle in and then at Bristol -n the 1870's at the Portuguese consulates there. (Being a diplomat apparently is a good day job for a great writer to have. The Nobel prize winning Pablo Neruda was also a diplomat for Chile.) Eça was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain and his observations of the English are just as cutting and still quite relevant today.

There are several quite different spellings like "anno" for "ano" (year); "fataes" for "fatais" (the plural of "fatal") and "d'ahi" for "daí"; "facto/fato" (fact) and "os inglezes" for "os ingleses" (the English). DLI has spellings like "fôsse" for "fosse" and "êle/êles" for "ele/eles" and "consêrto" for "conserto" (repair).

Neither of these orthographic issues present any problems in comprehension. Of course, the DLI course concentrates on Brazilian Portuguese. My speaking Brazilian Portuguese has never been a problem for me in Portugal in being understood or in understanding. I have interacted with Iberian/African speakers without any problems in comprehension orally and in writing. The good thing about the orthographic reform is that it does away with the "color/colour"; "theater/theatre"; "program/programme" and "traveling/travelling" issues that still exist between American and British English. Of course such vocabulary differences as "zucchini/courgette" in English and "a bonde (br)/o elétrico (pt- "eléctrico"- pre-reform)" [for "tram (am)/streetcar (br)"] in Portuguese still exist, but they are minor and for the most part, well known in both places. There are a lot of Brazilians in Portugal and there are "tugas" (Portuguese citizens) in Brazil too.

The solution is simple. Don't depend on a course to do all the heavy lifting in learning the language. Get exposure to the language in modern contexts with comprehensible native input outside of course world. It's easy to do. I did it. I wouldn't let the age of a resource or an intervening orthographic reform stop me from using a great learning resource. The DLI Portuguese Basic Course is one of the most thorough, most comprehensive and best courses I have ever done in any language... despite it's age and despite it's talk about "sea voyages to Brazil" and the "new" planned capital city of Brasilia (Ooooh... can't wait til they build it! :lol: ). The Linguaphone courses have a great reputation for quality and thoroughness as well. Boa sorte!
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