Guaraní language

Guaraní language

Infobox Language
name = Guaraní
nativename = avañe'ẽ
pronunciation = /aʋaɲẽˈʔẽ/
states = Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay
speakers = 7 million
fam1 = Tupian
fam2 = Tupí-Guaraní
fam3 = Guaraní (I)
script = Latin alphabet (Guaraní variant)
nation = flagicon|Paraguay Paraguay
flagicon|Mercosur Mercosur
Corrientes [] (Argentina)
iso1=gn |iso2=grn
lc1=grn |ld1=Guaraní (generic) |ll1=none
lc2=nhd |ld2=Chiripá
lc3=gui |ld3=Eastern Bolivian Guaraní
lc4=gun |ld4=Mbyá Guaraní
lc5=gug |ld5=Paraguayan Guaraní |ll5=Paraguayan Guaraní (language)
lc6=gnw |ld6=Western Bolivian Guaraní

Guaraní IPA|/gwaraˈni/ (local name: "avañe'ẽ" IPA| [aʋaɲẽˈʔẽ] ) is an indigenous language of South America that belongs to the Tupí-Guaraní subfamily of the Tupian languages. It is one of the official languages of Paraguay (along with Spanish), where it is spoken by 94% of the population. It is also spoken by indigenous communities in neighbouring countries, including parts of northern Argentina, eastern Bolivia and southwestern Brazil. It is also treated as a second official language of the Argentine provinces of Corrientes [ [ Website of Indigenous Peoples' Affairs which contains this information es icon] ] and Misiones. [ [ News Story es icon] ]

It is the only indigenous language of the Americas whose overwhelming majority of speakers are non-indigenous people. This is an anomaly in the Americas where language shift towards more prestigious official languages (in this case, Spanish) has otherwise been a nearly universal cultural and identity marker of mestizos (people of mixed Spanish and Amerindian ancestry), and also of culturally assimilated, upwardly-mobile Amerindian people.

Jesuit priest Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, who wrote a book called "Tesoro de la lengua guaraní" ("The Treasure of the Guaraní Language"), described Guaraní as a language "so copious and elegant that it can compete with the most famous [of languages] ."

It has been said that the Paraguay football (soccer) team speaks Guaraní on the pitch to confuse the opposing team. [ [ Football team Guarani usagees icon] ]

Predominance of Guaraní


Guaraní is, alongside Spanish, one of the official languages of Paraguay. Paraguay's constitution is bilingual, and its state-produced textbooks are typically half in Spanish and half in Guaraní.

Nonetheless, the two languages have a very complicated relationship. In practice, almost nobody in Paraguay speaks "pure Spanish" or "pure Guarani", but rather a combination of both which varies according to the social class, lifestyle and racial origin of the speaker. Thus, the more well-educated, more urban, and more European-descended population tends to speak Argentine-influenced Spanish with short phrases of Guaraní thrown inFact|date=May 2008, while the less educated, more rural, and more Amerindian-descended population tends to speak a Guaraní with significant vocabulary-borrowing from Spanish. This latter mix is known as Jopará IPA| [dʒopaˈɾa] .

Speakers of Guaraní who are not fluent in any other language have markedly limited opportunities for education and employment.Fact|date=May 2008 There are very few speakers of Guaraní outside of South America. Those few that exist include emigrants, scholars, missionaries, and former volunteers of the Peace Corps.


Guaraní is an official language in the provinces of Corrientes and Misiones, alongside Spanish.


Guaraní is widely spoken in the southeastern provinces of the country.


The Guaraní language, together with its near-identical sisters, the "língua geral paulista" (presently extinct) and the "língua geral amazônica" (whose modern descendant is Nheengatu), was once as prevalent in Brazil as it is in Paraguay. The language began a long period of decline in Brazil when the Jesuits, who had done much to spread and standardize it, were expelled from the country by order of Portuguese prime minister Marquis of Pombal in 1759. Guaraní survives in scattered pockets throughout Brazil, one of which can be found in a rural district within the municipality of São Paulo. Olívio Jekupé, a resident of Krukutu village, located in this area, has published a book of folk tales written in Guaraní and Portuguese. Because of its proximity with Paraguay, in Mato Grosso do Sul (Ponta Porã), the Guaraní language is a second language locally.


Guaraní persisted with enough vigor to be made official because the Jesuits elected it as the language to preach Roman Catholicism to the Indians (Guaraní was the language of the autonomous Jesuit "Reducciones") and because Paraguay's dictators for a time shut the country's borders and thereby protected the local culture and language.

Writing system

Guaraní became a written language relatively recently. The modern Guaraní alphabet is basically a subset of the Latin alphabet (with "J", "K" and "Y" but not "W"), complemented with two diacritics and six digraphs. Its orthography is largely phonemic, with letter values mostly similar to those of Spanish. All six vowels (note letter "Y" represents a vowel sound in Guarani) can take an acute accent (´) to mark stress (Á/á, É/é, Í/í, Ó/ó, Ú/ú, Ý/ý), but the resulting graphemes are not letters of the alphabet. The tilde is used with many letters that are considered part of the alphabet. In the case of Ñ/ñ, it differentiates the palatal nasal from the alveolar nasal (as in Spanish), whereas it marks nasalisation when used over a vowel (as in Portuguese): Ã/ã, Ẽ/ẽ, Ĩ/ĩ, Õ/õ, Ũ/ũ, Ỹ/ỹ. It also marks nasality in the case of G̃/g̃, used to represent the velar nasal by combining the velar consonant "G" with the nasalising tilde (note that the letter G/g with tilde, which is unique to this language, was introduced into the orthography relatively recently during the mid-20th century and there is disagreement over its use, and it has not been made available as a precomposed character in Unicode, which may cause typographic inconveniences or imperfect rendering when using computers and fonts that do not properly support the complex layout feature of glyph composition).


Guaraní only allows syllables consisting of a vowel or a consonant plus a vowel; a syllable ending in a consonant or two or more consonants together (except "digraphs") are not possible. This is represented (C)V(V).

* Vowels: IPA|/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ correspond more or less to the Spanish and IPA equivalents, although sometimes the allophones IPA| [ɛ] , IPA| [ɔ] are used more frequently; y is the close central unrounded vowel IPA|/ɨ/.

Reflexive pronoun: "je": "ahecha" ("I look"), "ajehecha" ("I look at myself")


Guaraní stems can be divided into a number of conjugation classes, which are called "areal" (with the subclass "aireal") and "chendal", respectively. The names for these classes stem from the names of the prefixes for 1st and 2nd person singular.

The areal conjugation is used to convey that the participant was actively involved, whereas the chendal conjugation is used to convey that the participant is Undergoer. Note that transitive verbs can take either conjugation, intransitive verbs normally take areal, but can take chendal for habitual readings. Nouns can also be conjugated, but only as chendal. This conveys a predicative possessive reading.Nordhoff, Sebastian (2004) Nomen-Verb-Distinktion im Guaraní. Köln:Universität zu Köln]

Furthermore, the conjugations vary slightly according to the stem being oral or nasal.

The negation can be used in all tenses, but for future or irrealis reference, the normal tense marking is replaced by "mo'ã", resulting in "n(d)"(V)"-base-mo'ã-i" as in "Ndajapomo'ãi", "I won't do it".

Tense and aspect morphemes

* -kuri: marks proximity of the action. "Ha'ukuri", "I just ate" ("ha'u" irregular first person singular form of "u", "to eat"). It can also be used after a pronoun, "ha che kuri, che po'a", "and about what happened to me, I was lucky"
* -va'ekue: indicates a fact that occurred long ago and asserts that it's really truth. "Okañyva'ekue", "he/she went missing a long time ago"
* -ra'e: tells that the speaker was doubtful before but he's sure at the moment he speaks. "Nde rejoguara'e peteĩ ta'angambyry pyahu", "so then you bought a new television after all"
* -raka'e: expresses the uncertainty of a perfect-aspect fact. "Peẽ peikoraka'e Asunción-pe", "I think you lived in Asunción for a while". Nevertheless nowadays this morpheme has lost some of its meaning, having a correspondence with "ra'e" and "va'ekue"The verb form without suffixes at all is a present somewhat aorist: "Upe ára resẽ reho mombyry", "that day you got out and you went far"
* -ta: is a future of immediate happening, it's also used as authoritarian imperative. "Oujeýta ag̃aite", "he/she'll come back soon".
* -ma: has the meaning of "already". "Ajapóma", "I already did it".These two suffixes can be added together: "ahátama", "I'm already going"
* -va'erã: indicates something not imminent or something that must be done for social or moral reasons, in this case corresponds to the German modal verb "sollen". "Péa ojejapova'erã", "that must be done"
* -ne: indicates something that probably will happen or something the speaker imagines that is happening. It correlates in certain way with the subjunctive of Spanish. "Mitãnguéra ág̃a og̃uahéne hógape", "the children are probably coming home now"
* -hína, "ína" after nasal words: continual action at the moment of speaking, present and pluperfect continuous or emphatic. "Rojatapyhína", "we're making fire"; "che ha'ehína", "it's ME!"
* -vo: it has a subtle difference with "hína" in which "vo" indicates not necessarily what's being done at the moment of speaking. "amba'apóvo", "I'm working (not necessarily now)"
* -pota: indicates proximity immediately before the start of the process. "Ajukapota", "I'm near the edge in which I will start to kill". (A particular sandhi rule is applied here: if the verbs ends in "po", the suffix changes to "mbota"; "ajapombota", "I'll do it right now")
* -pa: indicates emphatically that a process has all finished. "Amboparapa pe ogyke", "I painted the wall completely"This suffix can be joined with "ma", making up "páma": "ñande jaikuaapáma nde remimo'ã", "now we became to know all your thought". These are unstressed suffixes: "ta", "ma", "ne", "vo"; so the stress goes upon the last syllable of the verb.

Guaraní loans to English

English has borrowed a small number of words from Guaraní (or maybe from its close brother, Tupi) via Portuguese, mostly the names of animals. "Jaguar" comes from "jaguarete" and "piranha" comes from "pira aña". Other words are: "agouti" from "akuti" and "tapir" from "tapira". The name of Paraguay is itself a Guarani word, as is the name of Uruguay.

ee also

*Guaraní languages
*Jesuit Reductions
*Mbyá Guaraní
*Old Tupi
*Paraguayan Guaraní
*Western Argentine Guaraní


External links

* [ Ethnologue reports for Guarani languages]
* [ Guarani - English Dictionary] : from * [ Webster's Online Dictionary] - the Rosetta Edition.
* [ Guarani Portal from the University of Mainz] :
* [] : - online dictionary in Spanish, German and Guarani
* [] : - about the Guarani language
* [ Guaraní Possessive Constructions] : - by Maura Velázquez.
* [ Stative Verbs and Possessions in Guaraní] : - University of Köln
* [ Bible verses written in Guarani] : - a sample of the Guarani language

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