Luso what? Lusophones/Lusófonos: a brief explanation

If you are studying Portuguese, know that you are learning about the Lusophone world and its cultures as well.  The Lusophone world are countries that speak Portuguese as their official language and were colonized by the Portuguese. With 270 million speakers, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language on the planet.

The Lusophone world is comprised of ten countries/regions:

Brazil Brazil

Angola Angola

Mozambique Mozambique

Portugal Portugal

Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau

East Timor East Timor

Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea

Macau Macau

Cape Verde Cape Verde

São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe

(Portuguese: lusófonos) are people who speak the Portuguese language, either as native speakers or as learners. Similarly, the Lusosphere or Lusophony (Portuguese : Lusofonia) is a community of people who are culturally and linguistically linked to Portugal, either historically or by choice. The idea of a Lusosphere is free of ethnic connotations, in that a Lusophone may not have any Portuguese ancestry at all.

The Lusophone world is mainly a legacy of the Portuguese Empire, although Portuguese diaspora and Brazilian diaspora  communities have also played a role in spreading the Portuguese language. Even after the collapse of the empire, the corresponding countries continue to exhibit both cultural and political affinities, expressed in the existence of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), created in 1996.

The term Lusophone is a combination of the form “Luso-” (from the Latin term for an area roughly corresponding to modern Portugal, called Lusitania). and the suffix “-phone” ( from the Ancient Greek  word φωνή (phōnē), meaning “voice”).

The use of the term Lusophone mirrors similar terms, such as Anglophone for English-speakers, Francophone for French-speakers, Hispanophone for Spanish-speakers, and Sinophone for Chinese-speakers. The term is sometimes used in reference to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, similar to the Francophonie.

Map Portugal's colonies
“And if there is more world, we will get there”. Map – Portugal dos Pequenitos – Coimbra, Portugal – Photo by Daderot (licensed under CC0 1.0.)


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