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Mbaraka Ovama (I already moved the guitar)

If you were to mention the name “Barack Obama” to a , you would literally be telling them in their own Native Americanlanguage “I already moved the guitar” (Mbaraka Ovama). Despite this accidental fact, several English words actually have Guaraní roots, such as “tapioca”, “piranha,” “toucan” and “jaguar.”

Guarani refers to a group of indigenous peoples in South America, primarily in Paraguay, the Entre Rios and Corrientes provinces of Argentina, south Brazil, and some parts of Bolivia. Although their population has been significantly reduced because of European Colonization and mestizaje (ethnic cleansing process), there are important populations of Guarani throughout the continent, and guarani has become a written language recently. Guarani became an official language largely because the Jesuit missionaries from Spain chose it to preach Catholicism to the Indians; the Jesuits created missions to physically protect the Guarani peoples from European slave hunters, and many Guarani peoples are descendants from survivors of the Jesuit missions.

Today, Guarani is the second official language of Paraguay, where 90% of Paraguayans speak Guarani, other than Spanish, the first official language. In fact, teaching Guarani has become fundamentally important in Paraguayan public schools, with official translations of literary texts like “Don Quijote.” Despite the undeniable importance of the Guarani language in South America, the Guarani people still have to actively fight for recognition of their civil and human rights, so that they may preserve their cultural heritage as well as their community’s standing. The Guarani language actually borrows a large amount of words from Spanish, especially verbs, and so the preservation of the original language has become more difficult over time.

So, when thinking about the languages of the Americas, don’t underestimate the value of indigenous languages like Guarani, and consider the importance of including all linguistic groups and subgroups. If you have a text in or into Guarani or any other language, do not hesitate to contact us by requesting a free Trusted Translations quote.