The Portuguese Language in Asia and the Pacific



Hugo Cardoso

Course Description

Encompassing some of the most linguistically diverse regions of the world, Asia and the Pacific have long produced and continue to produce countless instances of multilingualism and intense language contact. The arrival and spread of the Portuguese language, starting in the 16th century, constituted a mere addition to an already extremely diverse linguistic landscape. However, in these regions, Portuguese had a considerable impact (not least because, as the first European colonial language to gain a foothold in Asia, it impacted on those that followed) which is not always properly understood.

This course focuses on the linguistic consequences of the establishment of Portuguese in continental and insular Asia as well as the Pacific, in terms of mutual transfers with the preceding autochthonous languages and especially with respect to the development of nativized varieties of Portuguese (which, interestingly, remain seriously under-documented) and the formation of pidgin and creole languages. We will also explore the role Portuguese played as a lingua franca there for centuries, as well as the impact which can still be observed in various other contact languages of the region. At the end, participants are expected to understand the multiple dimensions of the entrenchment of Portuguese in Asia and the Pacific, and to be aware of what is already known and what is still left to discover.


Hugo Cardoso who holds a BA from the University of Coimbra and an MPhil and PhD in Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam. He is Assistant Professor at the University of Lisbon (Faculdade de Letras), having previously worked and taught at Macau and Hong Kong. His research focuses on language contact involving Portuguese; he has done research on Saramaccan, a creole language of Suriname, but especially on the Portuguese-based creoles of South Asia – those of India (in particular, Diu and the Malabar Coast) and Sri Lanka –, endangered languages which he has documented and described extensively. His work combines a synchronic descriptive perspective with an interest in the history of these languages and their communities of origin, as well as in comparative approaches.