More than 230 million people speak Portuguese.
It is the sixth
most spoken language worldwide (Lingua Portuguesa, 1998).
It ranks second after Spanish as the most widely spoken romance
language in the world (Castanho, Serpa, Serpa, 2000). It is
spoken on every continent.
Portuguese Heritage Speakers
in the United States
The economic and political ties between
the U. S. and Brazil have historically been very close, but
the language barrier has made it impossible to develop cultural
ties as fully as would be desirable. The importance of Brazilian
- U. S. relations will inevitably increase in the years ahead,
and many more Americans with a knowledge of Portuguese will
be required by our government, by our business firms, and
our educational institutions.
-J. W. Fulbright
2000 U .S. Census results show that, of the total school
population, 5 years and over, 564,630
speak Portuguese at home. The National Clearing House of English
Language Acquisition (NCELA)
ranks Portuguese as the
third tenth most widely spoken language in the United
States among students learning English as a new language,
and the third
in Massachusetts, after English and Spanish (NECLA, 2004).
Portuguese-speaking peoples in the USA are concentrated primarily
in California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York (US Census, 2000).
The majority of Portuguese speaking students in the USA come
from Brazil, Azores & Madeira archipelagos (Portugal)
and Cape Verde (Cape
Note: The total U. S. school population,
five years of age and over as reported on the 2000 U. S. Census
is 262,375,152 (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003).
of Portuguese Language
language (Portuguese language, 2005) evolved mostly from
Latin brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans. It developed
its distinctive characteristics after the original country
of Portu Cale (Portugal) separated from the Kingdom of Leon
and Castille (Spain) in the 12 th century (1143). In time,
as the Portuguese people developed their own sense of identity,
Portuguese emerged as the national language distinct from
Spanish. Later, in the 15 th and 16 th centuries, when Portugal
took a leading role in the European expansion in the New World
(Pap, 1981, p. 3), Portuguese spread throughout the continents.
The following countries
(CPLP, 2004) have designated Portuguese as their official
Additionally, there are large communities of Portuguese-speakers
in Bermuda, Canada, France, the United States, and Venezuela.
e Comunidades de LÍNGUA PORTUGUESA (Mendes dos