The Language Sciences in Brazil

 The history of language sciences in Brazil comprehends the elaboration of grammatics and dictionaries, technological instruments that are the pillars of the knowledge of a language, even before the installation of Linguistics as a modern discipline, beginning in the XIX century, with the works of historic and compared linguistics and, already in the XX century, with the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, who delimited the existing contours of the discipline.

Since the beginning of colonization in the XVI century, indigenous languages were the object of grammatical production in Brazil for a long period, the Jesuit missionaries at the service of the Portuguese crown being the authors of the first books of grammar and dictionaries of the Tupi language. Only when the indigenous languages were prohibited in the colonial territories by decree of the Marquis of Pombal, prime minister of King Joseph I, published in 1757, would the focus of linguistic reflection be directed to Portuguese, which became the object of teaching and discussions in the various Academies founded during that period. The first grammatical works would only appear in the XIX century and become intensified in a decisive manner during the second half of the century, with the publication of a large number of grammar books, dictionaries and other works that dealt with the question of the national language, already in the political context of the independent State. For their descriptions, the Brazilian grammar books were, on the one hand, based on the tradition of Portuguese grammar and, on the other, on the colonial grammar of the indigenous languages, given the fact that the contacts with these languages, as well as African languages, were considered responsible for the specificities of the language spoken in Brazil.

The period in reference, which corresponds to the Brazilian grammatization of the Portuguese language, constitutes a mark in the history of language sciences in Brazil, since it set the bases for the eventual institutionalization of Linguistics in the second half of the XX century, with the determinant contribution of the work of the linguist Joaquim Mattoso Câmara Jr, although a direct passage between the approaches to the language cannot be established in these different historic periods.




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