LANGUAGE POLICY IN BRAZIL
5variations. This fact gives the false impression that the language is totallyhomogeneous.Again, the image that Brazilians have of their own language is not incomplete correspondence to reality. Historically, Brazilian Portuguese isa relatively recent variety of Portuguese. Because of this, there has notbeen enough time for the emergence of distinct dialects due to geographicor social isolation. In addition to this historical linguistic fact, the socio-linguistic effect of TV Globo (the most important national TV network),beaming its signal all over the national territory and making the countrya perfect ‘global village’, has enormous importance into setting a presti-gious variety of the language as a standard for everyone in the country.
Even with that powerful inﬂuence upon the life of the population, itwould surprise a linguist if a huge country like Brazil did not show anysigniﬁcant linguistic variation, considering the evidently striking socialand economical differences.Although there is no clear deﬁnition of what would be the standardBrazilian Portuguese, individuals tend to identify it with the varietyadopted by important TV news programmes, especially Jornal Nacional,the most important TV news programme on TV Globo. In this programme,the hosts speak a pasteurised linguistic variety, made up of ‘neutral’features from the two most important urban varieties: from Rio de Janeiroand São Paulo. The ﬁnal result is a mixture of features that make a goodimpression upon educated people, with a clear effort to suppress anycharacteristic that would identify with only one of those varieties. In otherwords, the standard Brazilian Portuguese promoted by the TV news is nota natural variety of the language. On the contrary, it is an artiﬁcial variety
Fischer (2001: 174) notes that, after the Second World War, the intrusion of televisionincreased dialect levelling; because of that, “contamination and superimposition have sincebeen documented among large populations of viewers”. In his opinion, “at this moment,television is perhaps the single greatest cause of universal dialect levelling” – referring tothe use of standard American English, that is increasing at a rapid rate in those English-speaking countries that broadcast American programmes without ‘dubbing’. But Fischer(2001: 182) also notes that “in a contrasting process, the recent ‘modernization’ of theBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has essentially eliminated what had come tobe called ‘BBC English’, an easily recognizable received pronunciation of the Englishlanguage that had long been held in high regard. Now, older listeners, be they in Britainor New Zealand, register alarm at hearing in BBC broadcasts what they register as ‘lower-class pronunciation’; they feel this not only ‘lower standards’ but also demonstrates ‘abeastly lack of good taste’. However, such protestations are meaningless in the larger sagaof living languages. ‘Superior’ dialects are only a chimera, as special dialects themselvesvery soon mutate and/or lose what made them special.”