Interesting Facts about Guaraní Language and people

(Last Updated On: January 5, 2021)

Guaraní; The Paraguayan American Language

Words are the strongest communication tool. Without them, we are literally at a loss for words. But not all languages evolved as lucidly and smoothly as others. Indigenous people and indigenous languages have always been discriminated against by the more modern socio-linguistic communities. Some of these languages were even worn down with time and there isn’t one single speaker of them. Facts about Guaraní Language is interesting.

Introduced by the Spanish Colonists in the early 16th century, Guaraní, Guaraní Spanish, or Paraguayan Guaraní is the official language of Paraguay along with the Spanish language. During the time of Alfredo Stroessner, he even changed the language policies to win people’s hearts. He even used policy makers to make new policies regarding Guaraní speaking people.

But this is not a native language which is popularly known around the world. In fact, outside Latin America, not many people even recognize the word Guaraní. But that doesn’t mean that it has little to no speakers or it’s a remote language of forgotten descent. 4 to 5 million speakers speak Guaraní worldwide among whom 3 million live in Paraguay.

Guaraní; The Origin

Guaraní is a Guaranian word which translates into war or warrior. The name has the hint that it is telling the story of a past filled with battle and blood. The Guarani tribe surely had a tough time in the South American region. However, unlike the past, the speakers of today are more interested in preserving their indigenous language and the rise in numbers is pretty promising. So much so that it is now an official language in Paraguay, standing parallel to Spanish.

The Guaraní language belongs to the Tupian family. It was first discovered by Jesuit missionaries and Spanish traders in today’s Latin America. Interestingly, the language has no definite article or gender which is why it has loan words and terms from Spanish. The number of people who speak Guaraní is massive in Paraguay and keeping in view that the children are more which is why policy makers at the Ministry of Education had to introduce a bilingual education program known as the Guaraní Spanish Bilingual Education in the country. However, the policy makers cleared it that Guaraní was only included as a partially bilingual medium of education whereas Spanish will remain the dominant language of instruction. However, later introduced language policies emphasized the importance of Guaraní in learning and institutional structures.


Interesting Facts About Guaraní Language

Spanish words are surely fantastic but did you know that the word for language is the same word for soul in Guarani? Well, that’s not the only exciting fact we are going to share about this indigenous South American language.

It’s OLD:

Yes, it dates back to the early 16th century, thanks to the Spanish colonists. It was one of the first indigenous languages of the region and stemmed from the Tupian language which has around 70 more languages under its umbrella, still spoken in small areas. It is, however, hard to say when the primary language submerged other languages or maybe it is still the same. Nothing can be said with a 100% guarantee about the mother tongue and there is no hard evidence to support any claims.

It’s Getting Popular:

Not just in the language policies’ circle or the Guaraní-Spanish bilingual education initiative but it is gaining more speakers. In fact, it is a language choice of informal, ordinary, and rural people, more of a national symbol for them. But don’t consider it a class language. The Paraguayan Guaraní is the native language of millions of people and it didn’t just get the official status of native language overnight. It is the only indigenous language in Latin America which has achieved the status of an official language.

A vast majority of native Spanish speakers are learning the official version of the Guaraní language rapidly. Perhaps they understand that this is the best way for inclusion as many consider the native tongue a national identity while being culturally appropriate at the same time. People from other post-colonial areas migrated to the region and when they saw the linguistic situation of the area, they learned the lingua franca like a shared heritage, they understood that it was going to be the best communication tool for them. Moreover, it is also speculated that the Paraguayan Guaraní came into existence because the missionaries chose Guaraní to spread the message and thus the church community promoted its spread into the common people as well.

It Has a Unique Grammar:

Just like we mentioned earlier, the Guaraní language has no definite article, neither does any gender. So instead of worrying over it, the people adapted to a different yet easy solution. They started using the Spanish word lo and lo in their Guaraní Spanish.

The Guarani grammar system is very interesting as it uses two suffixes to describe past and future.  For the past, they use (-kue) and for the future they use (-rã). And when both of these are combined, they can mean almost.

It Emerged From Homes:

Perhaps this is what they mean when they say that words can shape nations. Despite Spanish being the native language of not just Paraguay but also most of Latin America, the Guarani Spanish spread because of the Paraguayan population that was residing in homes. In essence, we can say that the official status of the Spanish language and language policies to use it in offices, schools and other institutions couldn’t hinder the magic of Guarani from reaching the hearts and lips of the Paraguayan population. It’s been given the title of “a symbol of the nation’s cultural identity

The true proof is the Ministry of education’s initiative of the bilingual model, the Guaraní Spanish Bilingual Education which helped thousands of children to learn better, it was even stated that all schools must be bilingual. Moreover, the iconic moment in 1992 after which Guaraní was given the official status of official language Paraguay.

People Love Guaraní:

Irrespective of the political and socioeconomic changes in the region, Guaraní is considered a national symbol of mutual respect, patriotism, and unity. Further promotion of the language was done when policy makers emphasized the importance of the Guaraní Spanish bilingual education. Officials even said that this is the only way of proving the integrative value of Guaraní in the region.

South America’s Indigenous Population Languages: Where Are They Now?

Just like Guarani and Guaraní Spanish, there are tons of other Foreign languages and colonial languages which are not just spoken by indigenous people but non-indigenous people as well. Latin America has a rich cultural heritage which includes a number of languages still prevalent in different countries including

  • The Quechua Languages: Spoken in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia
  • Guarani: Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia
  • Aymara: Bolivia, Peru, Chile

In Brazil alone, there are 135 confirmed languages that have speakers in both Northern and Southern Brazil.

Should You Learn Guaraní?

If you have a thing for learning new languages and fancy speaking like indigenous speakers, then there is no better way to do this. A language whose spread is even supported by the Government Departments and Ministry of education is definitely worth learning. It is also a chance to learn about the residents and their ways. The best part, you can even learn it through language learning apps, Guaraní Spanish is popular and you can easily find it. Or maybe you can go with another Latin American language, Language choice is all yours. Just keep learning.

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