Indigenous Languages

The Tupi language family comprises some 70 languages spoken in South America, of which the best known are Tupi and Guarani. The best known and most widely spoken of these languages was Old Tupi, a modern descendent of which is still used today by Indians around the Rio Negro region, where it is known as Nheengatu, or the “fine language”. However, the Tupi family also comprises other languages. In the neighbouring Spanish colonies, Guarani, another Tupian language closely related to Old Tupi, had a similar history, but managed to resist the spread of Spanish more successfully than Tupi resisted to Portuguese. Today, Guarani has 7 million speakers, and is one of the official languages of Paraguay and Bolivia.

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