Sitting Room

Friday, April 13, 2007

About the Guarani Language

About the Guarani language

Guarani belongs to the Tupi branch of languages. Putting it in another words, Guarani is a Tupian language. There are many South American languages in this family called Tupi-Guarani. Tupi used to be universally spoken in Brazil. The role of Tupi Guarani in colonization, as a tool for intertribal and interacial communication has been great. In Brazil it had the status of a lingua franca and was reffered to as Lingua Geral or General Language. It was also called Nheengatu in Brazil which means beautiful language. Two missionaries have been heroes of the Tupi and Guarani Langage. Padre (Priest) Anchieta in the São Paulo coast and Padre Montoya in Paraguay.

Anchieta learned Tupi, authored a vocabulary and wrote masses, Christian songs and catechism material in Tupi in são Paulo. Padre Montoya also authored the vocabulary of the Guarani language. It is considered so extensive and perfect that serves as orientation for scholars coneceted to the Guarani Academy of Letters (Paraguay). Padre Montoya as also important in the strugge to deffend mainly Guarani Indians who fled Portuguese territory to escape persecution of slave hunters called bandeirantes – revered as heroes and hated as bandits – so important for wining territories for Brazil. The Jesuit use of the Guarani language in their missions assured the langage survival and lay the fondation for the modern-day Guarani spoken in Paraguay today (also by many people in Misiones, Argentina).

The Portuguese reformer Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo known as the Marquis of Pombal played an important but lamentable role as far as Tupi is concerned. Mr. Pombal has become famous for fporbidding the use of Tupi in Brazil along with the expelling of the Jesuits from the Portuguese America. I will soon post a short vocabulary and expressions in Guarani in the variety known as the National Paraguayan Guarani, official language of Paraguay. I think it is important to say that because there are many other varieties spoken by different Indian tribes (nations), parcels etc. Example of Guarani varieties are Mbya Guarani, Guarani Kaiwoa, Ava Guarani. Aché is a Guaranian language. Indian tribes tend to have different internal dialects including a mystic or spiritual variety.

There has been an effort in São Paulo to bring the language back. Singer Marluí Miranda has recorded two fantastic CDs - as far as I know of Ihu and Kwerere. A mass attended by authorities in the São Paulo Sé Cathedral has been a great shw where masses and performances brought back the sound of Tupi to this South American European-style city. The Bible has been wholy translated into Guarani by a Paraguayan team of the Paraguayan Bible Society thanks to funding from the Korean Bible Society. In Brazil, mostly but also in Argentina and Bolivia Guarani and Tupi have been a source of inspiration for place naming: Itaquaquecetuba, Guaraqueçaba, Iguaçu, Pindamonhagaba, Curitiba (Kyry’yty), Butantã, Taubaté (Ita-Ybaté), Itaipu, and so on. The pronunciation of many names have been so adapted to the Brazilian capacity of pronouncing them that may have been rendered impossible to be understood by native speakers. Curitiba is a good example. It means Paraná Pine (Kyry’y) Plantation (Ty).

As seen elsewhere in this list, Swiss-born scientist Mosè Bertoni settled on the banks of the Paraná River where among other things the Guarani language. On this subject, I like, love, adore Bertoni’s Dictionary of Guarani-Latin Botanical Terms. He also contributed to science and human relations by publishing his Civilización Guarani (Guarani Civilization) – a masterpiece.

Just for your enjoyment check the Guarani Translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Guarani Google homepage

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