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Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia

Print version ISSN 0365-0596On-line version ISSN 1806-4841

An. Bras. Dermatol. vol.86 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Jan./Feb. 2011 



Dermatology and the brazilian portuguese language orthographic reform



Hélio Amante MiotI; Paulo Müller RamosII

IPhD, Assistant Professor of the Dermatology and Radiotherapy Departement from the Medical School of Botucatu - São Paulo State University (FMB-Unesp) - São Paulo (SP), Brazil
IIResident of the Departement of Dermatology and Radiotheraphy from the Medical School of Botucatu - São Paulo State University (FMB-Unesp) - São Paulo (SP), Brazil

Mailing address




The Brazilian Portuguese language orthographic reform has promoted changes in writing in less than 2% of its lexis. However, these changes have affected medical practice. The authors present in this article the main changes in the orthographic rules and gather a group of words that have had their spelling altered by this new language reform emphasizing the dermatological terms.

Keywords: Dermatology; Language; Vocabulary



Language is one of the most characteristic cultural manifestation of a group of people being itself an element of national integration. Its dynamic character is unquestionable which makes periodic reforms necessary.1

The 2009 spelling reform of the Portuguese language or ortographic reform is in force in Brazil since January, 2010 and its final implementation is expected to be achieved up to 2012. Although controvertial, it had the aim of bringing together the cultures of the eight countries that have the Portuguese language as their idiom.2

Although less than 2% of its lexicon has changed these changes have affected the routine of medical practice and, for now, they generate disagreements even among distinguished lexicographers.

There are not yet publications to guide doctors on the changes arising from the reform in relation to medical writing. Dermatology is a specialty with a huge amount of vocabulary, full of adjectives and jargon that have also changed.

The most significant changes were in the accents of the words.

Homographic words had the differential accents abolished as in: pelo, polo, pela, pera, para. However, when the accent distinguishes verbal tenses they were kept as in: intervém/intervêm, tem/têm, vem/vêm, detém/detêm, pode/pôde, convém/convêm, mantém/mantêm. They were also kept in pôr and por.

Words spelled or written with umlaut had it abolished. Words such as unguento, arguição, frequente, subsequente, sequela, consequente, cinquenta, consanguíneo, sequência and tranquilo; have a different spelling now. Umlauts arising from names and its derivatives such as: Köbner, Schönlein, Schüller, Löfgren, Löwestein, Sjögren, Björnstad, Gökerman, Könen, Vörner, Münchausen, Müller and mülleriano, were not altered.

Carets were excluded from words ending in hiatu oo, such as: enjoo, voo, magoo, perdoo and povoo. Third person plural (they) had carets excluded in the present indicative and subjunctive. Their new spelling is: creem, leem, veem and deem.

The acute accent disappears in the group of verbs ending in gue, gui, que, qui,such as : enxague, averigue, apazigue, argui. Similarly, it also disappears in verbs ending in guar, guer and guir when pronounced with tonic u in the present indicative, subjunctive and imperative like: enxaguo, enxaguas, enxagua, enxaguam; enxague, enxagues, enxágüem. However, if pronounced with tonic a and i they keep the accent.

Paroxytones with the open diphthongs ói and éi had the accent abolished (Chart1). However, oxytones ending with the open diphthongs éu, éus, éi, éis, ói, óis keep it like in: herói, chapéu, troféu, papéis.

Paroxytone words with tonic i and u, when preceeded by diphthong, cease to be marked like in: feiura, baiuca e Bocaiuva. However, oxytones ending in i or u followed or not by s, remain marked like in Piauí and tuiuiú.

The verbs argüir and redargüir have the acute accent abolished for the second and third person singular and third person plural in the present indicative such as in: arguis, argui, arguem.



Hyphenation has never been an easy issue and it became the most controversial topic of the reform. The hyphen is used before words beginning in h with the prefixes anti, macro, mini, proto, auto, sobre, super, ultra (Chart 2 - line a).

On the other hand, when the prefix ends with a vowel different from the vowel that begins the second word, the hyphen is not used (Chart 2 - line b). Likewise, do not take hyphen words which have the prefix ending in vowel and the first letter of the second element begining with consonant different from r and s (Chart 2 - line c).

Do not take hyphen, and double the letters, words which have the prefix ending in vowel and the second element begins with r and s ( Chart 2 - line d) except when the prefixes end with r, like in: hiperrequintado, inter-resistente e super-revista.

Words which have the prefix ending with the same vowel that begins the second element are hyphenated (Chart 2 - line e).

Do not take hyphen words with the prefix re followed by element begining with letter e (Chart 2f). Lose the hyphen words which have the prefix póstero, as well as words that follow the prefix co are not hyphenated and the letter h from the second element should be suppressed (Chart 2- line g).

Take the hyphen words with the prefix sub preceding word begining with r : sub-região, sub-raça. The same applies to words begining with m, n and vowel preceded by the prefixes circum and pan (Chart 2 - line h).

Get hyphen the words: beri-béri, tique-taque, tim-tim, Mega-hertz and chá-da-índia. On the other hand, the words xiquexique and tão só begin to be written without hyphen

Compound nouns of Tupi-Guarani origin recquire hyphen such as : Mogi-mirim and jacaré-açu; as well as words preceded by the prefixes vice, ex, sem, além, aquém, recém, pós, pré, pró (Chart 2 - line i).

Compound words that do not have an element of liaison and constitute semantic unity, besides words related to taxonomy, keep the hyphen (Chart 2 - line j) except for the words that have lost the idea of compound and therefore have the hyphen abolished such as : mandachuva, paravento, paraquedas, paraquedista, pontapé.

Still, the hyphen has to be repeated at the begining of a new line if, at its end, the division of a word or the combination of words coincide with the hyphen.

The alphabet reincorporated the letters K, W and Y, totalizing 26 elements and therefore allowing the use of symbols of units and measures (kg, km and W), loanwords and its derivatives (bowenoide, show).


Table 2


Cases of ambiguous phonetic such as clitóris and clítoris, keep both forms of stress.

More than mere erudition, or to minimize the work of reviewers of journals and publishers, the ortographic changes are final and should be incorporated to the daily writing practice as they are relevant to the appropriate professional communication for the next generations.3,4



1. Kirby S, Dowman M, Griffiths TL. Innateness and culture in the evolution of language. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104:5241-5.         [ Links ]

2. Tufano D. Michaelis. Guia prático da nova ortografia. São Paulo: Melhoramentos; 2008.         [ Links ]

3. Dirckx JH. The doctor's dyslexicon: 101 pitfalls in medical language. Am J Dermatopathol. 2005;27:86-8.         [ Links ]

4. Ferguson WJ, Candib LM. Culture, language, and the doctor-patient relationship. Fam Med. 2002;34:353-61.         [ Links ]



Mailing address:
Hélio Amante Miot
Departamento de Dermatologia e Radioterapia da Faculdade de Medicina da Unesp
Campus Universitário de Rubião Jr
18618-000 Botucatu - SP, Brazil
Phone./fax: +55 14 3882 4922

Received on 13.08.2009.
Approved by the Advisory Board and accepted for publication on 27.11.09.
Conflict of interest: None
Financial funding: None



* Work carried out at the Department of Dermatology and Pathology from the Medical School of Botucatu - São Paulo State University (FMB-Unesp) - São Paulo (SP), Brazil.

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