Guinean Portuguese

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Guinean Portuguese
português guineense, português da Guiné
Native speakers
170,000 (2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
The National Assembly with signs in Portuguese

Guinean Portuguese (Portuguese: Português Guineense) is the variety of Portuguese spoken in Guinea-Bissau, where it is the official language.


Guinea-Bissau is unique among the African member states of the CPLP in that it is both highly diverse linguistically, like Angola and Mozambique, and it is also a creole society, like Cape Verde and São Tomé e Príncipe.

Rather than Portuguese, it is Guinea-Bissau Creole which serves as the lingua franca and the vehicle of national identity spoken as both a first and second language. Thus Portuguese, for those who speak it, is often a third language. The native Portuguese speakers in Guinea-Bissau are mostly white Guineans. The reduction of native Portuguese speakers is caused by leave of most white Guineans to Portugal or Brazil and by civil war that affected education. The majority of the approximately 15% of Guineans who speak Portuguese are concentrated in an area of the capital city, Bissau, known as 'a Praça'. The variety of Guinea Bissau Creole spoken in the capital, Kriol di Bissau, is known for being more Lusitanized, borrowing words more freely from Portuguese.

The standard phonology is European Portuguese. But for second- and third-language speakers, it is affected by phonologies of native languages and resembles Brazilian Portuguese.


Portuguese was used as a communication between Portuguese settlers and different black tribes (most are Fulas, Mandingos, Manjacos, and Balante) before the nation became a permanent Portuguese overseas territory. The number of Portuguese speakers was large during Portuguese rule, although mestiços and most blacks speak a Portuguese Creole called Guinea-Bissau Creole, which is a more widely spoken lingua franca of the nation. After independence, when most Portuguese left, Portuguese speakers were reduced to less than 10% because of civil war that affected education, although it remained the official language of the country.

Language Planning[edit]

When the CPLP was founded in 1996, it helped Guinea-Bissau in education aside from peace talks there. Many Portuguese, Brazilian, and PALOP (mostly Angolan) teachers entered to increase Portuguese fluency among blacks. In 2005, in order to increase Portuguese fluency, there was an agreement between Guinean officials and Instituto Camões, which already had a center in Bissau, to open centers in other towns of the country: Canchungo, Ongoré, Mansôa, Bafatá, Gabú, Buba, Catió, Bolama, Bubaque, and Quinhamel. The percentage of Portuguese speakers increased to 14%.


  1. ^ Portuguese (Guinea-Bissau) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Bibliography on Guinean Portuguese