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European Portuguese (português europeu in Portuguese) refers to the variety of Portuguese spoken in continental Portugalmarker, as well in the Azores and Madeiramarker islands. The word “European” was chosen to avoid the clash of “Portuguese Portuguese”.

Geographic variation

The two main divisions of European Portuguese differentiate between the Portuguese Islands (Madeira, the Azores etc.) and mainland Portugal (Continental Portuguese) . Continental Portuguese is in turn divided roughly into Northern and Southern varieties. The Prestige norms are based around two varieties: that of Coimbra and that of Lisbon.

Phonetically, differences emerge within Continental Portuguese. For example, in northern Portugal, the phonemes and are less differentiated than in the rest of the Portuguese speaking world, and the grapheme 'ch' is pronounced instead of giving this particular regional variety of Portuguese greater proximity to Galician. Another regionalism can be found in the south with the use of the gerund in the present progressive tense rather than the infinitive.

Portuguese is spoken by a significant minority in Andorra and Luxembourg. The Principality of Andorramarker has shown interest in membership in the CPLPmarker. There are also wealthy immigrant communities in France and Germany.


The Galician language spoken in the Autonomous Community of Galiciamarker in Spain, is very closely related to Portuguese. There is, as yet, no consensus among writers and linguists on whether Galician is a variety of Portuguese or a distinct yet closely related language.

Galicia has expressed interest in joining the CPLP as an associate observer pending permission from the Spanish government.

The prominence of European Portuguese

Portugal maintained its colonial rule over its old world empire much longer than it did over Brazil. Thus European Portuguese is used as a norm of reference for African and Asian Lusophone spaces, given the lack of existing official norms in those countries. Portugal remains a destination for postsecondary education for the elites of these places. In Europe, European Portuguese remains the learning standard for p.l.e. (Portuguese as a second language).

The Instituto Camões is an organization which promotes not only the Portuguese language but also Portuguese culture. Thus, it promotes Continental Portuguese as a norm for learners.

RTPi is the Portuguese counterpart of the BBC and also serves as a vehicle for European Portuguese providing media content throughout the world. There is a branch of RTPi named RTP África, which serves Lusophone Africa.

In estimating the size of the speech community for European Portuguese, one must take into account the consequences of the Portuguese Diaspora: Immigrant communities located throughout the world in the Americas, Australia, Europe and Africa.

See also


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