"our language"

claude hagege claude.hagege at FREE.FR
Sun Dec 15 22:27:57 UTC 2002

In response to Björn Wiemer's query,

   (concerning languages which are named by their speakers as "our speech"),
I would suggest there must be many a language of that kind, although the
only one which occurs to me at the moment is Guarani. There is, however, an
aspect by which Guarani doesn't correspond exactly to what Björn is looking
for: it is far in fact, at least in Paraguay, from being a despised
infra-language which would be opposed to a prestigious supra-language.
Paraguayan Guarani is one of the very few Indian languages in Central and
South America(probably the only one if we take into account the situation of
Quechua in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia from this point of view) which enjoy
official status along with Castilian. Guarani speakers in Paraguay are 85%,
among whom 70% are bilingual and 15% monolingual in Guarani; 15% are
monolingual Castilian speakers, the total population being approximately
3.000.000. The Guaranis call their language ava-ne'e (I can't write the
tilde on n and the second e), meaning "language (ne'e) which is a property
of Indians (ava)", as opposed to karai-ne'e , meaning "Castilian" (where
karai is for Castilian). Thus, although they don't exactly call it "our
language", they almost do! The foregoing doesn't apply, however, to the
other components of the Guarani-speaking world, i.e. Argentinian and
Brazilian Guarani: recent fieldwork has shown me that the term ava-ne'e,
although understood of course, is less often used there to refer to the
claude.hagege at free.fr

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