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Review of The Routledge Portuguese Bilingual Dictionary
AUTHOR: Maria Allen TITLE: The Routledge Portuguese Bilingual Dictionary SUBTITLE: Portuguese-English and English-Portuguese PUBLISHER: Routledge YEAR: 2011
Rolf Kemmler, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro / Centro de Estudos em Letras, Portugal
This is the first edition of a relatively small bilingual dictionary of Portuguese and English. It is divided into three sections; an introduction section (pp. i-xxiii), an English-Portuguese dictionary (pp. 1-349); and a Portuguese-English dictionary (pp. 351-753).
The introductory section offers a quite concise ''Preface'' that offers some key information on the work and its author. One of the most essential details is the statement that ''it contains approximately 65.000 entries and over 50.000 definitions in a current lexicographic structure with examples and many idiomatic expressions in both languages, including the Brazilian variant, where it differs from the European-African Portuguese and, to a smaller extent, American English'' (p. vi). The preface's final paragraphs inform the reader about the author, Mary F. Allen, who used to be a Portuguese lecturer at the University of Westminster for several decades.
Following the author's ''Acknowledgements'' (p. vi) are four pages with practical information on ''How to use this dictionary'', both in English (pp. viii-ix), and in Portuguese (pp. x-xi). The text on these pages is, however, no simple translation, but rather serves as an explanation for the English-Portuguese and the Portuguese-English dictionary.
The next chapter is dedicated to ''Orthographic Changes'' in the Portuguese language (written in English; pp. xiv-xviii), which include:
- the formal introduction of the graphemes in words of foreign origin; - the suppression of non-voiced consonants in the sequences pt> (e.g. ‘ação’, ‘diretor’, ‘ótimo’; formerly ‘acção’, ‘director’, ‘óptimo’) and (e.g., in Brazil, ‘súbdito’ vs. ‘súdito’ and ‘aritmética’ vs. ‘arimética’); - the use of small letters for days, months, and seasons (e.g. ‘quinta-feira’, ‘janeiro’, ‘primavera’) and facultative use of small or capital letters in several other cases (e.g. titles of books, honorific titles, disciplines, etc.); - the suppression of dieresis (e.g. Portuguese ‘trema’, only used in Brazil) as formerly in 'lingüística' and 'agüentar', now 'linguística' and 'aguentar'; - the suppression of the use of accents in some specific contexts and the introduction of the facultative use of accents in some norms; - changes in the use of hyphens (as Allen states, ''this is still a grey area, which is under discussion'' (p. xvii)).
The dictionary is completed by a chapter on ''Abbreviations/Abreviaturas'' (pp. xix-xxi) and Weights and Measures (pp. xxii-xxiii).
Given the 65.000 entries with 50.000 definitions, the dictionary may be considered a bilingual pocket dictionary, being only slightly larger than a standard paperback book. The dictionary, as such, certainly isn't pioneering work, but it seems quite obvious that the author wished to elaborate a slender modern dictionary meant for the use of British students, translators and bilingual speakers of the Portuguese language. Thus, she opted to offer mostly one or two equivalences for most entries which, all in all, seem to be quite adequate -- even when referring to more colloquial terms. Occasionally, the author adds cultural information in small grey text areas. Due to the dictionary's size, it would have been most desirable if more of such extralinguistic comments had been introduced in order to further enrich the dictionary. It's quite obvious that the lexicographic part is the author's forte. It might, however, be argued whether or not the dictionary really might be of use to full-fledged translators and bilingual speakers, as its brevity (which might be positive for beginners) could be viewed as a disadvantage by more advanced and professional users of both languages. Also, if we consider that the dictionary is made for all kinds of users of lexicographic works (but mostly non-native-speakers of the Portuguese language), one might ask why there is a total absence of phonetic information?
Concerning the ''Notes on Portuguese grammar'' and ''Algumas observações gramaticais'', we cannot fail to note that together, they occupy a little more than one page. The English notes are reduced to observations on the singular and plural endings of most Portuguese nouns (p. xii). The Portuguese notes are slightly more elaborate and contain short considerations on the definite article (e.g. ‘o Senhor Silva’ (‘Mr. Silva’); ‘os alunos’ (‘students’)) and the possessive adjective (e.g. ‘vou lavar as mãos’ (‘I am going to wash my hands’)), as well as the use of the past tense ('tenho comido' as 'I have been eating' but not 'I have eaten') and passives in Portuguese (‘Aqui fala-se chinês’ (‘Chinese is spoken here’)). Also, these notes contain some considerations on the use of comparatives and superlatives in English as well as some English verbs. All in all, the linguistic observations seem to fall somewhat short of what readers may hope for. In this sense, a short overview on both Portuguese and English grammar, with stress on the more difficult areas for the respective non-native speakers, would have been more satisfying.
Concerning the orthographic changes, the Portuguese language was subjected to (due to the reform of 1990) some important issues that need to be outlined. The subchapter ''The principal changes'', which offers insight into the linguistic changes made to what formerly was known as the Luso-Brazilian orthography, is mostly correct. The following introductory paragraphs, however, require some revision, as they contain some incorrect information concerning this vital area:
''Portuguese is the official language in eight countries across the world, and during the compilation of this dictionary, the talks about orthographic changes have been going on between Brazil and Portugal. Four countries agreed and ratified these changes in 2008. There are still some aspects to be discussed and, consequently, the dubious areas which are still unresolved, shall not be included in the current dictionary. Portugal has proposed a six-year moratorium, so that all eight countries have time to adjust to the new orthography. The ''old'' spelling is still in use in all the eight countries.''
The ''Acordo ortográfico da língua portuguesa'' (‘The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement’) the author is talking about, without any explicit reference, was signed by the representatives of the then-existing seven countries where Portuguese is an official language (i.e. Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe) on December 16, 1990. In the document, it was agreed that the new orthographic regime would come into effect on January 1, 1994, but it seems logical that the African signatories would be awaiting the application of the new orthographic rules by Portugal and Brazil, who had been arguing about a solution for a common base of a simplified Portuguese orthography since 1911 (cf. Kemmler 2009).
In Portugal, the reformed orthography was ratified in 1991, and in Brazil, only in 1995. As this obviously meant that a new date, or even better, a new mode for the implementation of the plurilateral orthographic reform needed to be found, the ''Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa'' (CPLP), founded as a ‘Community of Portuguese Language Countries’ in 1996, served as a platform for the negotiation of further terms. In 2004, East Timor, a CPLP member since 2002, became the eighth member of the agreement's signatories.
As the First Modifying Protocol (signed July 17, 1998) didn't produce the desired effect, on July 25, 2004, the CPLP members agreed on another modus that established for the coming into effect of the new orthographic regime after the deposition of the third ratification title with the Portuguese Foreign Ministry in Lisbon. Given that by December 2006, three of these documents had been deposited, the Brazilian President decreed that the new regime would take effect in Brazil beginning on January 1, 2009 (Kemmler 2010). With the corresponding Portuguese document having been deposited on May 13, 2009, the formal application of the new regime beginning January 1, 2012 was only a formality (Kemmler 2011). While there is still some opposition amongst a small number of private citizens, the application of the new orthography in the whole public sector in Brazil and in Portugal has been swift and rather pacific.
By facilitating unity in the diversity of the linguistic reality of the Lusophone countries, the key element of the orthographic agreement is the 'norma culta', that is, the spelling in accordance to the 'educated norm' that can be observed as linguistic reality in the country in question. Thus, Brazilians get to write 'Antônio' and 'fato' [‘for fact’], whereas the Portuguese write 'António' and 'facto'.
Obviously, private citizens that aren't obliged to partake in public communication may still go on writing as they wish. Teachers, professors, and public servants, however, are obligated to write according to the new, somewhat simplified rules no later than five years after the agreement's coming into effect in the aforementioned countries. For students living in Lusophone countries, this means, naturally, that they cannot really count on any grace period, but rather that they have to write according to the new rules no matter what. Also, most of the important Brazilian and Portuguese newspapers have applied the necessary changes; some did so even before the new regime was mandatory in the public sector.
In this sense, the author's ambivalence concerning the new orthographic rules (even those she might have reason for disagreeing with, as other scholars do) doesn't really make sense in what was meant to be a popular dictionary for practical use. Even if we consider that the orthographic agreement only changed a tiny proportion of Portuguese words, the utility of a dictionary that doesn't adhere to the current orthographic system seems questionable; even if we consider the dictionary to serve for the use of beginners. This, as well as any other of the mentioned slight shortcomings can (and should) be remedied in possible future editions.
Kemmler, Rolf. 2009. Para a história da ortografia simplificada. Silva, Maurício. Org. 2009. Ortografia da língua portuguesa: história, discurso e representações. São Paulo: Editora Contexto. 53-94.
Kemmler, Rolf. 2010. O Papel do Segundo Protocolo ao Acordo Ortográfico de 1990 na História da Ortografia Simplificada. Chrystello, José Chris. ed. 2010. Atas / Anais do 14.º Colóquio da Lusofonia, Bragança, Portugal: 27 setembro -- 2 outubro 2010. CD-ROM (ISBN 978-989-95891-5-5). file CDlusofonia2010\atas finais.pdf. 261-282.
Kemmler, Rolf. 2011. Uma querela lusófona com final feliz: a entrada em vigor do Acordo Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa de 1990. Associação Internacional dos Colóquios da Lusofonia. 2011. 15.º Coloquio da Lusofonia, Macau: quatro séculos de Lusofonia - Passado, Presente e Futuro (11-15 abril 2011). CD-ROM (ISBN 978-989-95891-7-9). file CD AtasEncontros 2011 Macau/ATAS2011.pdf. 287-298.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Rolf Kemmler is an auxiliary researcher in the field of Portuguese
linguistic historiography with the Centro de Estudos em Letras (CEL),
University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal). He
received his doctorate in Romance Philology from Bremen University
(Germany) in 2005, with a thesis entitled 'A Academia Orthográfica
Portugueza na Lisboa do Século das Luzes: Vida, obras e atividades de João
Pinheiro Freire da Cunha (1738-1811)', published in 2007. His research
interests focus on the history of Portuguese orthography as well as the
history of Portuguese and Latin-Portuguese grammar.