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The rise of East Timor Portuguese variety and its Creoles roots

Abstract/Résumé: The Portuguese first arrived on Timor Island in the early XVI century and soon began to settle the eastern part of this island which would become a Portuguese colony. Before East Timor could be an independent nation, the territory was militarily occupied by Indonesian forces, from 1975 to 1999. The newly independent República Democrática de Timor-Leste would formally emerge in 2002 with two official languages – Tetum and Portuguese. Nowadays, Portuguese language carries different variations which can be classified in a continuum that, at one edge, has linguistic forms near Standard Portuguese and, at the opposite edge, creole-like structures. These different variations have their origin through the way the Portuguese language was spread in Timor. It was by the activities of the Church, the Administration and the Military. According to historical research on Portuguese and Dutch documents, it is possible to state that there was a complex situation of languages in contact and language acquisition that affected Portuguese language, contributing to the formation of creoles and restructured varieties. In Timor, the main features that contributed to the formation of a creole variety, called Bidau Creole Portuguese (BCP), and a vernacular variety of Portuguese, called here East Timor Portuguese (ETP) were: creole universals, the presence of local languages, the pre-existing non-Portuguese based lingue franche - Bazar Malay, and Tetum Praça - and the transmission of Creole Portuguese features through population shifts. This presentation intends to show some ETP features and their origins, and also to trace through linguistic and historical analysis the formation of this Portuguese variety. Thus, the main contribution of this work is to offer a linguistic study on this understudied Portuguese variety.