Tuesday, June 09, 2009
There's a fairly long article here that Page F30 readers will definitely be interested in taking a look at, which explains the linguistic situation in East Timor better than I could. Though Portuguese as an official language in East Timor is often derided as a colonial remnant or a poor choice (considering that the only areas nearby where Portuguese is spoken are Macau, Goa and parts of Japan), it's also worth remembering that the Tetum language has been so influenced by Portuguese that it's actually not as hard to learn as one might expect. If you know Portuguese then take a look at the Tetum Wikipedia to see how much you can understand.
Apparently the late Brazilian governor Sérgio Vieira de Mello gained a great deal of respect in the country by learning Tetum. Perhaps those interested in promoting Portuguese in East Timor (and thus Brazil/Portugal/East Timor relations) would be able to help by learning enough Tetum to contribute to their Wikipedia. Or perhaps by adding Tetum words to the Portuguese Wiktionary (just a bit under 1000 Tetum words exist there now).
The article also berates Portuguese speakers and Brazil itself for being too tame in promoting Portuguese.