By Peter M. Tase
The Guarani language is the only official indigenous tongue in Latin America. It is increasingly spoken in rural Paraguay and is the bearer of Paraguayan culture, folklore and national identity.
Guarani language, or Ava ñe’ê, as it is also known, is the original language of South American countries, used before the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores came to the new continent.
In the recent decades Guaraní language has become less spoken in the major cities of Paraguay, therefore it requires families and society to take some extra measures in securing its daily use at home by youngsters. For Ramon Silva, a professor and teacher of the Guaranilanguage, “Paraguay is the first country in the hemisphere to recognize a native language and to include it in the constitution of 1967, it is up to us to preserve this inherited important treasure”.
For Prof. Silva, “Guarani, as a highly spoken language was always present in Paraguayan homes, but now young generations learn how to read and write in Guaraní and unfortunately do not practice it daily. In order to secure the language’s survival it should be spoken more frequently.” If this trend continues then the vocabulary of Guaraní language will shrink and Paraguayan society, sooner or later, will have to gather forces and prevent this language from becoming extinct.
According to official sources, the language is spoken by 90 percent of the population and 60 percent of Paraguayans only speak Guaraní language, whereas 20 percent of Paraguayans, predominantly in the national capital city – Asuncion, only speak Spanish.
On November 8th, the administration of President Federico Franco, celebrated the inauguration of the Academy of Guaraní Language, which will be administered by the State Secretary of Language policy, Dr. Carlos Villagra Marsal. For Secretary Marsal “language is the moral fiber of a country, and the academy is the responsible institution for ensuring its broadcast, growth and strengthening as a tool of communication among our people.”
For Lino Trinidad Sanabria, there is an arduous task waiting in order to “rescue, preserve and achieve a unified voice towards the grammar and interpretation of phonetics in Guaraní Language; the members’ objective is to produce a dictionary that will differ from the current versions with Spanish translation.”
The Academy is staffed by: Domingo Aguilera Adolfo Jimenez, Feliciano Alcaraz Acosta, Mario Ruben Alvarez Benitez, Milciades Almidio Aquino Arguello, Ruben Bareiro Saguier, David Galeano Olivera Abdon, Maria Georgina González Morán, María Eva Manfeld Aguero, Maria Elvira Martinez de Campos, Julia Irene Segovia de Borba, Ramon Silva, Miguel Angel Sanabria, Lino Verón Trinidad Gomez, Sara Delicia Villagra-Baroux, Thaddeus Zarratea Davalos.