Portuñol: Portuguese-Spanish Contact in Uruguay

Student Author(s)

Elizabeth Perkins

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Daniel Woolsey

Document Type


Event Date



In the same way that our daily encounters with one another influence us over time, languages in contact contribute to the ever-changing languages that reflect us as people. The border between southern Brazil and northern Uruguay demonstrates this idea through widespread bilingualism and the combination of Portuguese and Spanish, commonly referred to as Portuñol. History, geography, economic motives, and social and national identity affect the use and perception of Portuñol in both countries. Linguistically, despite the fact that Portuguese and Spanish share many lexical and syntactic similarities, the phonological differences are notable. It is debated as to whether these two languages in contact create a new language, or merely a Hispanicized dialect of Portuguese. The history, shared border, and linguistic similarities have contributed to a present and controversial Portuñol in southern Brazil and northern Uruguay.

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