If the color of their skin, their tribalistic customs and their faith were the points of greatest rejection by Europeans towards Africans, when they involuntarily came to the new world, it is undeniable that black resistance occurred, to a large extent, in the persistence of a linguistic corpus passed down through the religious and cultural teachings of these people. The influence of African languages ​​on the constitution of our own language is undeniable, even without any official status. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the possible starting point and analyze the linguistic variations suffered by the Portuguese language in the scenario of popular expressions. To do so, we will make use of historical studies about colonial Brazil in ANDRADE (2000), by the author HEYWOOD (2008.), as well as linguistic and ethnoliguistic texts in the works of PETER E FIORIN (2008), Margarida Petter (Org.) and PETTER (2015). We will see, therefore, that these marks are as strong as those left by the whips on black flesh.

Keywords: Linguistics, Ethnolinguistics, African Language, Portuguese Language, Diaspora.


African Diaspora, also known as Black Diaspora, is the name given to the sociocultural and historical event that occurred on the African continent due to forced immigration for slavery purposes and which lasted from the colonial period to the end of the 19th century, where those who survived slave ships, arriving in the New World, they were deprived, above all, of their own dignity. And this is known to everyone.

What many are unaware of, and which we will address in this work, is that an important link to our native language is born from the misery of the human condition. According to the work Andrade (2000), we see an important contribution in what we can call the Brazilian language today, we understand Brazil as a country mixed with the slave trade, responsible for the arrival of four to five million African speakers, most of them from Africa. Sub-Saharan or, inappropriately, also known as Black Africa (part of the African continent located south of the Sahara Desert).

According to Heywood (2008), two of this population stood out: the Bantus, in the central region, which comprises around 300 similar languages, and the Sudanese, in West Africa, with Yoruba and Ewe-Fon being the most influential languages, spoken mainly in Gulf of Benin. Together, these languages ​​exceed 400 languages ​​and although the number is large, they all belong to the Niger-Congo family, therefore, they are related.

Thus, the general objective of the work is to analyze the influence of the African diaspora on the formation of the Portuguese language in Brazil. As specific objectives we will contextualize, according to the slave regions explored, the diversity of African languages ​​brought to Brazil; identify a possible starting point for this linguistic influence in the country; analyze the means used to incorporate this language; estimate the impact that the incorporation of this new language had on our speakers (popular sayings) and evaluate the current linguistic scenario after almost 500 years of history.

This research is descriptive in nature and aims to study, record, analyze and interpret the linguistic phenomenon that occurred in the Brazilian Portuguese language as a result of the black diaspora. In this way, its objective is to identify characteristics and variables that are related to the ethnolinguistic phenomenon, seeking to establish the relationships between these factors. Considering that Brazilian Portuguese is not a whole, a uniform block, but a collective concept that can be divided into levels, according to occasions, regions and social classes, African contributions are more or less completely integrated into the system linguistic analysis of Brazilian Portuguese according to sociocultural language levels, therefore, we will use data collection, partly with surveys of common sense expressions and partly with documentary analysis. So that at the end of this article, we can analyze these interferences.


The first excursions to the African continent date back to the 10th century, when Arab writers traveled to Sudan and highlighted the existence of the powerful and ancient black state, the Ghana empire. As time passed and the new territory was discovered in the 15th century, the exploration of the African coast and nearby regions continued until the mid-19th century.

Bonvini (2008) clarifies that human trafficking was a long-distance trade, where first there were exchanges with distant regions and it was possible to notice that the slave traded always belonged to other ethnicities. The figure in charge of these transactions was called pombeiro, who took fabrics, objects or ivory and returned with slaves. The ports used were north of the Congo River, Port Loango, or the ports of Malemba and Cabinda, as well as the port of Pinda, Luanda or Benguela.

As a result of this trade, fixed and increasingly organized warehouses were created in these places, since most of the time a slave ship could not be filled with a single visit from the pombeiro. Therefore, the captives were left in fixed deposits or barracks on dry land and those weakened by the journey from the interior to the coast could recover before leaving their homeland. If their stay was longer, they were allowed to work the land so that they could earn a living from there. The Portuguese chose to maintain these human deposits on large ships anchored in a port in order to avoid external attacks on those confined.

It is estimated that around 15% of captured Africans died at sea, with a higher mortality rate in Africa itself due to the capture and transport of native peoples to ships. The total number of African deaths directly attributable to trafficking between 1500 and 1900 could be as high as four million. For centuries, Portuguese slave traders had a near monopoly on the export of slaves from Africa and as we said previously, Brazil was the main character in this sad episode in the history of humanity, which some call Maafa or «great disaster» in Swahili.

In 1535, the first ship with enslaved black people arrived in Salvador (BA) and it was only after 353 years, with the arrival of the industrial production method, that on May 13, 1888, freedom was sanctioned through the Golden Law.

The emergence of communication between the kidnapped and the compulsory confinement created the linguistic environment, which, although transitory, could influence, due to its duration and its regular renewal, the language that will emerge in Brazil. BONVINI (p.32) explains to us that this scenario was characterized by the forced and prolonged concentration of different African languages ​​that were typologically close, which culminated in the adoption of Kimbundu as a vehicular language and, no less closely, the Portuguese language was also present. Having their first contact through the pombeiro, later by the Portuguese and Brazilian slavers, who would later become their masters. Plurilingualism caused a pidgin resulting from speaking Kimbundu, Portuguese, Brazilian

Pidgin is a language created as a result of contact between languages, used as a language of communication, not being the mother tongue of any speaker, they normally have rudimentary grammars and a restricted vocabulary, and may or may not develop into creole languages. A pidgin differs from a creole language, which has fully developed vocabulary and grammar, making it the first language of a speech community. Most linguists believe that a creole language develops through a process of nativization of a pidgin, that is, when children who speak pidgin start to use it as their first language, acquiring complexity and stability typical of a language. So, the Creole language replaces pidgin as a form of communication. Creating a pidgin typically requires regular and prolonged contact with different language communities; need for communication and lack of a widespread and/or accessible lingua franca.

Whatever the circumstances of the captures, what was mostly common among the groups is that they were exposed to Afro-Lusitanian culture, especially those who came from Central Africa, that is, the enslaved would bring not only the culture of their respective ethnic groups as well as elements of an Afro-Lusitanian culture. Like the case of the woman Luiza, a slave of Manuel Lopes de Barros who survived until she was 13 years old in a Portuguese-African environment in Luanda, before being sold in Sabará, Brazil. She brought with her her gift of healing people by combining Catholic rituals and African roots. She was arrested by the Inquisition in Brazil in 1739, accused of witchcraft.


The borrowing of words became a normal and frequent sociolinguistic phenomenon, with a constant bilateral exchange between African and Portuguese speakers already in Brazilian lands in the second half of the 16th century until the end of the 19th century, due to the demands of farming and in the big house. Slavery forced everyone into a constant relationship of interdependence led by countless everyday issues. We can also remember that at a time slightly before this, Brazil was at least undergoing a process with indigenous peoples, highlighting the Tupi-Guarani language BONVINI (p. 103)

It is worth explaining that at no time do we talk about one language taking over another, or appropriating, on the contrary, there is a collaboration between the speeches, a lexical and semantic support so that the resistance is not muzzled and silenced. As BONVINI (2009, p. 103) explains:

In no way does it address the “impact” of a “source” language (here, African languages) on a “target” language (Brazilian Portuguese) or vice versa. It is rather the current and normal capacity of every language to appropriate the terms necessary for its own expressiveness, whatever its origin, when the new discursive context requires it. The term “borrowing” serves precisely to designate such a phenomenon

Due to the isolation in which the colony of Portugal was subjugated, largely due to the interest of maintaining the monopoly of Brazilian foreign trade, the environment became conditioned to life with a conservative aspect, with leveling tendencies, more susceptible to the acceptance of mutual cultural contributions and common interests. Being able to highlight the role of black women as a socializing agent within the white family and the process of linguistic symbiosis carried out by black ladinos alongside slaves, clarifying that the “ladinos” were black people who quickly learned to speak Portuguese rudely, thus creating two sociolinguistic communities. differentiated: the big house and the slave quarters.

The figure of the black woman, in the role of “black mother”, had the opportunity to interact and exert her influence in that domestic and conservative environment, incorporating herself into the daily life of…