Marcelo reopens debate on reviled “Acordo Ortográfico”

It may mean nothing to expats who only need to speak Portuguese in limited circumstances but President Marcelo’s determination to reopen debate on the much-reviled “Acordo Ortográfico” (spelling agreement) is music to the ears of all those who hold the value of the Portuguese language in their hearts.

Since it was adopted by Portugal in 2008, the ‘acordo’ as it is known by abbreviation has driven citizens round the bend.

The reason is not simply that it has changed the spelling of so many words – leading to a kind of Brazilianisation of Portugal’s spelling – but it has seen newspapers and publishing houses digging in their heels, so that children will learn one kind of spelling at school, and read another kind in newspapers and books.

“Absurd” is how the director of Público described it to the UK’s Telegraph when the agreement was first officially adopted.

The idea was that spelling would at last be standardised across all Portuguese-speaking countries.

Brazil was the first to adopt it, followed by Portugal, but since that time no other country has bitten the bullet – very possibly because of the vast requirement to change public notices, schoolbooks and goodness knows what else.

Visiting Mozambique this week, Marcelo is taking the opportunity to turn on the thumb-screws, explains Expresso.

If Mozambique and Angola continue to shun the changes, a referendum “is one of the possibilities to resolve the impasse”, says the paper.

It is something the last centre-right government refused outright (click here). But as Marcelo was one of 400 who signed a petition against the agreement in the early days, things have finally changed.

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