Guarani is an indigenous language located in a large part of South America, more specifically concentrated in Paraguay.
The hundreds of dialects spoken by the different inhabitants of America differ completely from the languages of other continents; among these mother languages is Guarani.
Paraguay is currently a bilingual country, with Guarani and Spanish as official languages and with 7 million inhabitants. Guarani has been an official language since 1992, until then Spanish was the state’s only official language. Guarani is the oldest language spoken in the territory and it is spoken by the majority of the population, 38% of which speaks only Guarani, 51% is bilingual and only 7% is monolingual in Spanish. Guarani is a curious language since it does not bear similarities with any other, but it is said that its origin comes from different migratory currents.
Guarani has survived several different stages through time, making it one of the most important legacies of the native ancestors, and the greatest symbol of Paraguay’s social and cultural identity.
The Guarani language is also spoken in other countries such as Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia, and it is an official language in some regions of the latter. Guarani is also apparent in the toponymy of other countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Ecuador. There is also research that affirms that the word or denomination "Caribe" comes from the Guarani language, and that it was originally "Karaive".
As previously mentioned, the Paraguayan population mainly speaks the Guarani language. That is why their different expressions, be they cultural, traditional or artistic, are manifested in this language. Guarani has been sung, written and performed and, historically, theater performances were only given in Guarani. However, due to external influences both the subject matter and format have changed, as well as the language. Nowadays, performances in Guarani only take place in the most popular theaters.
Paraguay is a country where most of its inhabitants are very religious and traditionalist. This can be clearly seen in their religious practices and their beliefs in myths and legends, where different anecdotes or events referring to real-life experiences are usually narrated orally, and in Guarani. After all, telling an anecdote about the Luisô – the wolf man of Paraguayan culture – in Spanish, would not be the same as telling it in Guarani. Telling this tale in Spanish would be totally lacking of any whim.
The media generally works in Spanish; in the case of radio, only 30% of AM frequency is in Guarani. In terms of the press, only some magazines and isolated publications are marketed in Guarani.
The TV gives rise to some hope for the historical language, with the creation of a public channel – hoy Paraguay TV – that uses the language in some of its programs. This has received popular approval given that Guarani is the nation’s most spoken language.
An important advance in recent years in terms of the use of Guarani in the media, is undoubtedly its use within the field of information technology and other technologies. Websites, social networks, browsers and internet search engines have successfully incorporated and accepted the Guarani language within their respective functions.
Paraguay has different typical dishes with Guarani names. In this case, the onomatopoeic characteristic of the language is apparent in foods such as chipa, chicharô, huitî, pajagua, kaguyjy, etc. So too are the very actions of cooking, such as pupu, chyryry, mbychy, hesy, ka'ê, etc.
Beginning in 2010, after the passing of Law 4052 on languages and the creation of a State Secretariat for Language Policies and the Academy of the Guarani Language, the main language of Paraguay has gradually managed to incorporate itself into the work of the State, thus fulfilling its role as an official language and providing deserved respect to its speakers, together with Spanish.
The people of Paraguay use Guarani as a language of communication. Guarani is present in the streets, schools, churches, homes and any other place of social interaction. You cannot avoid hearing a "mba'eteko" or a "mba'éichapa" when first meeting a person, even if they are a complete stranger.
In Paraguayan history, the Guarani language has been considered a national defense instrument, since the different wars and battles have been won speaking it; in this way it is also an element of identity and national cohesion. Furthermore, the Paraguayan football team as well as other sports, uses this language when facing teams from other countries, as a game strategy.
In Paraguay, the State has always functioned in Spanish and put Guarani to one side. Public documents have always been written in Spanish, and never in Guarani, regardless of whether they are understood by native Guarani speakers.
The educational system has always functioned in the Spanish language and Guarani was only incorporated into schools and colleges after it was made official. Like in universities, it was incorporated as a taught language and not a language of instruction.
iDISC offers translation services in Guarani.
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