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Guinea-Bissau: Portuguese speakers cry foul as French, English make gains

Portuguese is Guinea-Bissau's official langauge   -  
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CARMEN ABD ALI/AFP or licensors


The Portuguese language is facing yet another challenge in one of its most important bastions - Guinea-Bissau. 

Some people say they are being discriminated against as employers in the country are publishing job adverts in French or English to the detriment of Portuguese speakers.

Over the years, the popularity of the French language has grown in this former Portuguese colony.

"I worked in a bank for nine years and I came across that situation. It was all in French. The bank statement is in French. I cannot be Lusophone to then interpret the statement of my bank account, of my money, in French," said Amiel Carvalho, a resident of the capital. 

Portuguese is Guinea-Bissau's official language. But the country is bordered by English-speaking Gambia to the north and French-speaking Guinea and Senegal. 

Bissau also hosts a large community of immigrant workers.

"We are being discriminated against in the labour market in Guinea-Bissau, we are Guineans, and we are having difficulties getting jobs because of this French and English language situation," said Carvalho. 

Spoken on five continents, Portuguese is the fourth most spoken language in the world, with 261 million speakers, according to data from the Camões Institute. 

Guinea-Bissau is the only Portuguese-speaking enclave in west Africa where French and English dominate.

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