|Geographic location:||Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina|
|Number of Languages:||48|
|Number of Genetic Units:||20|
|Research Index:||to be determined|
The Southern South America Hotspot holds a large number of indigenous languages from different genetic units. These languages are threatened by government policies that force tribes to leave traditional ways of life, settling nomadic groups on reservations and destroying natural ecosystems for economic gain. Speakers of small indigenous languages in this Hotspot are shifting to speaking Spanish or larger indigenous languages, such as Guaraní.
One small language is Aché, spoken in eastern Paraguay. This language is related to Guaraní, which is one of the two official languages of Paraguay; the other official language is Spanish. Aché, though, is a separate language spoken by a distinct group of people. Aché speakers lived as hunter-gatherers until the 1970s, before contact with outsiders led to epidemics that killed half their population. Shortly after that, the Paraguayan government forced the Aché people to settle on reservations. Aché speakers today continue to forage in the woods for food. Due to their close interaction with the natural world, Aché speakers have a rich vocabulary of words about forest life. These words could be lost as the Aché life loses its connection to the forest.
Languages and genetic units in this hotspot:
Click here to show/hide list of genetic units (20)
Click here to show/hide list of languages (48)
- Cafundo Creole
- Guaraní Paraguayan
- Guaraní, Eastern Bolivian
- Guaraní, Western Bolivian
- Iyo’wujwa Chorote
- Iyowa’ja Chorote
- Mbyá Guaraní
- Nambiquara, Southern
- Pai Tavytera
- Quechua, Santiago del Estero
- Quechua, South Bolivian
- Wichí Lhamtés Güisnay
- Wichí Lhamtés Nocten
- Wichí Lhamtés Vejoz
Endangered languages include:
- Chorote, Iyojwa’ja ( < 800 speakers, Matacoan, spoken in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay)
- Guató ( < 50 speakers, Guato, spoken in Brazil)
- Kabixi (100 speakers, Chapacuran, spoken in Brazil)
- Krenak ( < 80 speakers, Botocudo, spoken in Brazil)
- Maxakalí ( < 750 speakers, Maxakalí, spoken in Brazil)
- Ofayé ( < 20 speakers, Opaye, spoken in Brazil)
- Tapiéte ( < 200 speakers, Tupi-Guaraní, spoken in Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia)
- Vilela ( < 2 speakers, Vilela, spoken in Argentina)
- Xokleng ( < 250 speakers, Ge-Kaingang, spoken in Brazil)
Some features of languages include:
Nempeyveescamoo means 'to do something correctly' in Lengua (Paraguay, 6,705 speakers)
Lengua (Paraguay, 6,705 speakers) uses a counting system with words for one, two, and three, and hands and feet.
Hawtrey, Seymour H. C. 1901. The Lengua indians of the Paraguayan Chaco. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 31: 280-299.
Kim, Hill A. and Magdalena Hurtado. 1996. Ache Life History: the Ecology and Demography of a Foraging People. New Jersey: Aldine Transaction.