Reintegrationism (Galician and Portuguese: reintegracionismo; Galician: [rejnteɣɾaθjoˈnizmʊ, -asjo-], European Portuguese: [ʁɛĩtɨɣɾɐsjuˈniʒmu]) is the linguistic and cultural movement in Galicia which advocates for the unity of Galician and Portuguese as a single language. In other words, the movement postulates that Galician and Portuguese languages did not only share a common origin and literary tradition, but that they are in fact variants of the same language even today. According to this, Galicia should re-integrate into the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

The opposite view holds that Portuguese and Galician should be viewed as distinct languages, which is called Isolationism.


There are two main views in Galicia about the Galician language:

  • The isolationist considers Galician and Portuguese to be two distinct languages, although they are closely related. Isolationists favour differentiated rules of writing and spelling between Galician and Portuguese. In this fashion, Galician spelling follows the model of Spanish orthography and its own traditional conventions, which converge with it in some aspects. This view is held by the majority of public and Government organizations. Its standard norm, the "NOMIGa", is elaborated by the Real Academia Galega (Royal Galician Academy) and the Instituto da Língua Galega (Institute for Galician Language).
Among other criteria, isolationism argues that since the majority of the Galician population was educated in Spanish only (as official use of Galician was forbidden for centuries,[1][page needed] [2][page needed][clarification needed : In which sense was it "forbidden"?] especially in Francoist Spain[3]), it is easier to create a Galician written norm which is closer to Spanish, therefore more "familiar", regardless of other considerations. It is also alleged that since the Spanish language had such a vast influence in modern Galician its contribution should not be simply disregarded. This influence is noticeable in some aspects of Galician phonetics and colloquial speech.
In this fashion, it is argued that Galician would be faithful to its history and etymology and subsequently its written norm would be more scientific and precise. Thus, it would allow Galician speakers to have direct access to a world culture and it would also clarify some spelling problems of the isolationist norm (for example in terms of accentuation).[4][5]
Reintegrationism is a cultural stand as much as a linguistic position. Its supporters believe that Galicia rightfully belongs to Lusophony since, in fact, modern Portuguese originated in what is today Galicia and northern Portugal (see History of Portuguese, Galician-Portuguese period). They aim for stronger cultural and economic ties with the Portuguese-speaking countries using the common language as a tool for direct communication.
From the Portuguese side, a number of relevant linguists and authors such as Luís Lindley Cintra, Manuel Rodrigues Lapa, Fernando Venâncio, Carlos Reis or Malaca Casteleiro have expressed their agreement with the reintegrationist views.[6]

Genesis of the debateEdit

The divergences between isolationism and reintegrationism can be traced back to the time of the Galician Rexurdimento (Revival), in the nineteenth century, when Galician began to be systematically written again in Galicia for the first time since the Middle Ages. Up to that time, written Galician was either forbidden or simply dismissed by the Spanish authorities, and certainly not used officially. Hence, Rexurdimento Galician writers realized they did not "know" how Galician should be spelled properly. There were three possible options: to infer it from the Medieval forms; to use a Spanish-based spelling, which was already known to all; or to use the Portuguese spelling, feeling that written Portuguese was "what Galician would have been if it had not been forbidden". Authors such as Castelao, among others, stated that Galician should gradually merge with Portuguese, namely in its written form.[7][8] The reality was that until the 1980s Galician was often written using a mix of the three options.

The Lusitanian and Galician languages are the same.

— Padre Feijóo, Theatro Critico Universal, 1726

There are two opinions on the orthographic norms of our native language: the phonetic ... influenced by the domination of Spanish, and another one ... where etymology is its main and most logical attribute ... because (Portuguese orthography) is the natural orthography of the Galician language, and I cannot understand how there still are not only doubts about this, but even opinions against it ... with no scientific basis.

— Roberto Blanco Torres, La unificación ortográfica del idioma gallego, 1930

There is a reason why our language is the same as in Portugal ... Our languages must become the same one again.

— Otero Pedrayo, Discursos Parlamentarios, 1933

Galician is a wide-spread and useful language which—with small variations—is spoken in Brazil, Portugal and in the Portuguese colonies.

— Castelao, Sempre en Galiza, 1944

Yet, with the end of Francoist Spain in 1975, and with the Spanish transition to democracy shortly afterwards, Galicia became an autonomous community with the Statute of Autonomy of 1981, with Galician as its official language (alongside Spanish). Establishing a fixed standard form then became urgent. Claims for Galician-Portuguese linguistic unity had already been produced, as evidenced with the Manifesto para a supervivência da cultura galega (Manifesto for the Survival of Galician Culture), first published in 1974.[9] Still, the first draft of the language norms was produced in 1979 under the guidance of linguist Professor Ricardo Carballo Calero. These norms recommended a gradual approach to Portuguese, often allowing for a number of different solutions in the case of uncertainty.

However, political issues forced the resignation of Carvalho Calero and, consequently, the 1979 pro-reintegrationist norms were revoked. The new official norms and reforms passed from 1982 onwards would be strongly pro-isolationist.[10][11]


Reintegrationism accepts two possibilities for writing Galician: either adopting the standard Portuguese written norm or using a slightly modified norm following the recommendations of AGAL. In any case, reintegrationism considers that spoken Galician and all of its characteristic words, expressions, and pronunciation should not be radically substituted by standard Portuguese. The main recommendations of reintegrationism when referring to spoken Galician revolve around the avoidance of unnecessary Spanish loanwords, namely colloquialisms. In writing, the most obvious differences from the official norm (NOMIGa) are (according to AGAL):[12]

  • Use of ⟨nh⟩ instead of the letter ⟨ñ⟩ to represent the palatal nasal sound. For example: caminho instead of camiño (way).
  • Use of ⟨mh⟩ instead of ⟨nh⟩ to represent the velar nasal sound. For example: algumha instead of algunha.
  • Use of the digraph ⟨lh⟩ instead of ⟨ll⟩ to represent the palatal lateral sound. For example: coelho instead of coello (rabbit)
  • Use of ⟨çom⟩/⟨ção⟩ and ⟨çons⟩/⟨ções⟩ instead of the suffix ⟨ción⟩ and ⟨cións⟩. For example: associaçom/associação instead of asociación and associaçons/associações instead of asociacións (association, associations)
  • Preference for the use of suffixes ⟨aria⟩ and ⟨vel⟩ over ⟨ería⟩ and ⟨ble⟩ or even ⟨bel⟩. For example: livraria instead of librería (bookshop); incrível instead of incrible or incríbel (incredible)
  • Use of ⟨ss⟩ between vowels, when appropriate, instead of the simplified ⟨s⟩ for all cases. For example: associação instead of asociación
  • Use of either ⟨x⟩, ⟨j⟩ or ⟨g⟩ preceding ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩, according to the etymology of the word, instead of ⟨x⟩ for all cases. For example: hoje instead of hoxe (today), geral instead of xeral (general), but exército as in exército (army)
  • Use of ⟨m⟩ instead of ⟨n⟩ at the end of a word. For example: som instead of son (sound)
  • Use of a wider range of accentuation signs instead of the simplified single stroke. For example: português instead of portugués (Portuguese), comentário instead of comentario (commentary). Note that the official orthography, being a calque of the Spanish one in that respect, does not cater for any difference between open and closed vowels, since Spanish does not have them.
  • Avoidance of specific lexical choices introduced by Spanish

Even though the reintegrationist norm does not have official status, it has been recognized in courts of law.[citation needed] Furthermore, Galician members of the European Parliament (such as José Posada, Camilo Nogueira and Xosé Manuel Beiras) have used spoken Galician when addressing the chamber and have used standard Portuguese orthography to encode their Galician speech. In all cases, these interventions and encodings have been accepted by the Parliament as a valid form of Portuguese, that is, an official language of the European Union.[13][14][15]

Furthermore, members of Galician reintegrationist associations have been regularly present at meetings of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. In 2008, Galician delegates were invited as speakers to the Portuguese Parliament when discussing the new spelling norms for Portuguese language.[16]

Common positionsEdit

Theoretically, the positions of the standards of NOMIGa (official norm) and AGAL are not so different. Although usually accused of having pro-Spanish tendencies, it is stated at the introduction of the NOMIGa that "standard choices must be in harmony with those of other languages, especially to those of Romance languages and especially to those of Portuguese". Furthermore, they value "the contribution of Peninsular and Brazilian Portuguese" in the creation of the Galician norm.

This being the philosophy behind the "official standard", NOMIGa and AGAL share an initial starting point, but it is often argued that the NOMIGa are far removed from the usual speech of day-to-day and older Galician speakers, in addition to "isolating" Galician (hence the term isolationist) from the rest of Portuguese-speaking areas by using a different writing system. In any case, European and Brazilian Portuguese are usually analyzed by both isolationists and reintegrationists as a primary source from which to extract scientific and technical terminology and neologisms.

Political implicationsEdit

As with many other aspects of Galician society and culture, language is deeply politicized in Galicia. Traditionally, the defence and promotion of Galician language has been linked to Galician independence, yet this is often considered a simplification. Likewise, different political groups and parties have adopted different approaches to the "isolationism vs reintegrationism" polemic.[17] Broadly speaking, pro-independence groups have traditionally expressed a greater support for the reintegrationist norm, while others have adopted the isolationist. In any case, all the linguistic organizations behind both reintegrationism and isolationism have attempted to dissociate themselves from the political debate. For example, AGAL members have often expressed that this is merely a linguistic, hence scientific, discussion, and that it should not become the arena for political fights among the community of Galician speakers.[18][19][20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Freitas, M.P. (2008). A represión linguística en Galiza no S.XX. Ed. Xerais.
  2. ^ Callón, Carlos (2022). O libro negro da língua galega. Ed. Xerais.
  3. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, many nations: a historical dictionary of European national groups. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 279. ISBN 0-313-04866-5. Following Franco's 1939 victory, the Galicians suffered severe punishment – their culture was suppressed, and edicts were issued forbidding the speaking, teaching, or publishing of books or newspapers in the Galician language.
  4. ^ Accentuation section on the 'Critical Study' to the ILG-RAG norm, by AGAL Archived 15 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Access date 1 September 2011
  5. ^ Article about the 'Continuum' of the norms in Galicia. Access date 1 September 2011
  6. ^ On the opening of the Galician Academy for Portuguese Language. Access date 8 October 2008
  7. ^ Selected quotes of Castelao and other Galician classics Archived 5 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine, commenting on Galician language and politics
  8. ^ Selected quotes Galician classics on Reintegrationism and the Galician-Portuguese issue, commenting on Galician language and politics
  9. ^ Manifesto para a supervivência da cultura galega, published in 1974, probably written originally circa 1971–72
  10. ^ Biography of Carvalho Calero Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, explaining the development of the language norm and his implication in it
  11. ^ Ao Lonxe: Ou o comezo da guerra normativa, blog entry explaining the "story" behind the "standards war"
  12. ^ "Associaçom Galega da Língua".
  13. ^ O galego já é oficial na Uniom Europeia[permanent dead link], by José Manuel Barbosa, 2004
  14. ^ O galego na União Europea, sound file, by Camilo Nogueira, Celso Álvarez Cáccamo et al., 2004
  15. ^ Interview to Manuel Garcia: "I spoke Galician in the European Parliament" Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2005
  16. ^ Presença galega no parlamento português na comunicaçom social Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2008
  17. ^ Reintegracioniso e nacionalismo hoje Archived 24 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, by José Manuel Outeiro
  18. ^ O reintegracionismo deve rachar com a imagem de marginalidade e seitarismo Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Forum da Língua, 2004
  19. ^ Interview to Maurício Castro: O conhecimento e interesse polo reintegracionismo está hoje mais estendido socialmente Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2006
  20. ^ Outeiro Archived 24 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, op. cit.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit