The Last Flower of Lazio

Lazio is a region in central Italy where Latin was spoken. Many languages have derived from Latin, such as French, Spanish and Italian. The last one was the Portuguese language, which was named as “The last flower of Lazio“ by the Brazilian poet Olavo Bilac. i.e. the last language derived from Latin.

In Brazil, the Portuguese incorporated words of those who already lived there and spoke the original languages of the country to its vocabulary, such as Tupi-Guarani. From Indigenous languages, Portuguese mainly inherited words associated with flora, fauna, and geographical names: abacaxi (pineapple), (mandioca) cassava, (caju) cashew, (tatu) armadillo, piranha, Iracema, Juçara, Ubirajara, Itabuna, Indaiatuda and Piracicaba.

Nigerian Yoruba and Angolan Quibundo arrived in Brazil with African slaves. Several African words have become part of the Portuguese language, making it richer. These words are mainly related to cooking, religion and daily life and are mostly found in Brazilian Portuguese: vatapá, quitute (delicacy), quiabo (okra), banguela (toothless), cachimbo (pipe), cafuné, miçanga (bead), batuque, marimbondo (wasps), etc…

People’s influences on the Portuguese language can be seen at the Museum of the Portuguese Language in São Paulo. The museum is located at the building of Estação da Luz (photo) and was opened in 2006. It is dedicated to the use and dissemination of Portuguese, using technology and interactivity to present its content. One of its permanent exhibitions is called Palavras Cruzadas (Crosswords) or Lanternas das Influências (Lanterns of Influence). The room displays some of the languages that have formed and influenced Brazilian Portuguese, with totems dedicated to African, Indigenous, Spanish, English, French and other languages brought in by immigrants in the nineteenth century.

From the Spanish language we say: bolero, castanhola (castanet), façanha (achievement), frente (front), neblina (fog), novilho (steer), pastilha (tablet), rebelled (rebel), trecho (stretch).

From Italian: bandolim (mandolin), camarim (dressing room), cenário(scenario), maestro, piano, serenata (serenade), carnaval (carnival), confete (confetti), salame (salami).

From English we say: clube (club), futebol (football), grogue (groggy), panfleto (pamphlet), pudim (pudding), túnel (tunnel).

From German: banco (bank), bandeira (flag), canivete (pen-knife), orgulho(pride), rico(rich), blitz (police raid).
In general, people who migrated to Brazil and those living there influenced not only changes in the language but many aspects of Brazilian culture. The Portuguese language became more interesting and rich with contributions from these people who helped constitute the language spoken in Brazil and the identity of the Brazilian people.


You might also like: