A foray into Guaraní


Last Wednesday I met the Paraguayan Spanish instructor to learn Guaraní, an indigenous language that is one of two official languages of Paraguay (Spanish is the second).  Spanish will be the medium of instruction.  We plan to meet each Wednesday at lunchtime for the next three weeks.  
 
Guaraní is a very interesting language.  Unfortunately, Spanish and Guaraní have little in common except a few Spanish-derived cognates such as "problema" (problem).  Today I memorized a short conversation in Guaraní in anticipation of my next Guaraní session.  Here is the short conversation I memorized, which I found on the web site of Professor Lustig of the University of Mainz, Germany:
 
Mrs. Natividad: Good morning. Do you speak English / Spanish?
Ña Nati: mba’éichapa ne ko’ê. Reñe’êkuaápa inglépe / karai ñe’ême?

Jasy: I’m sorry, I  dont speak english.
Jasy: Añembyasyete, nañe’êkuaái inglépe.

Mrs. Natividad: Unfortunately, I speak only a little Guarani.
Ña Nati: Añe’êkuaamichimi mante guaraníme, anga.

Jasy: No problem. You speak already very well.
Jasy: Ndaipóri problema. Reñe’ê porãitereíma.

Mrs. Natividad : Thank you.
Ña Nati: Aguyjevete ndéve.

Jasy: ; Qu te vaya bien
Jasy: Tereiko porãke.

I want to learn a handful Guaraní phrases and dialogues so that I can better function linguistically in Paraguay.  Although only four-to-six million people speak Guaraní, most live in Paraguay.  94% of Paraguayans speak Guaraní, while just 40% of Paraguayans speak Spanish.  In Paraguay, at least, Guaraní is more useful than Spanish. 

Guaraní has an intriguing sound.  For example, the pronunciation of the vowel "y" sounds like a drop of water when combined with the consonent "b".  Considering that the Paraguayan have been known to use Guaraní to define their national identity and confound those who are not Paraguayan, I feel like I’m learning a special language by learning some Guaraní.  During the Chaco War (1932-1933), Paraguayan soldiers spoke Guaraní exclusively, eluding their Spanish-speaking Bolivian adversaries.  I’m happy to have a chance to pepper my Spanish with a few indigenous phrases.

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4 thoughts on “A foray into Guaraní

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