Guaraní (language)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in

Paraguay , Argentina , Bolivia , Brazil
speaker 4–5 million
Official status
Official language in ParaguayParaguay Paraguay Bolivia
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Guaraní [ gwaɾaˈni ] (own name: avañe'ẽ ) is a language spoken in Paraguay , northeastern Argentina , parts of Bolivia, and southwestern Brazil . Guaraní belongs to the Tupí-Guaraní language family .

There are around 4 to 5 million Guarani speakers . Maximum estimates are up to 7 million, including people who have little knowledge of Guaraní, which is common among city dwellers in Paraguay.

In the German language there are some words that correspond to or are very similar to the current word in Guaraní. These words came into German via Spanish and Portuguese and come either from the Guaraní dialects spoken in Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia or Brazil, or from the closely related Tupi language , for example: Capybara , Jaguar , Jaguarundi , Tapir , Pineapple , cassava , maracas , passion fruit , rhea and piranha .

Spoken Guarani (Wikitongues Project)


Guaraní was already in the Spanish colonial period for the purpose of Christian proselytizing as a written language used. The first grammar, dictionary and catechism in Guaraní were written by the Spanish Franciscan Luis de Bolaños . The Jesuit state in the Spanish colonial era, which essentially comprised part of what is now eastern Paraguay and what is now the Argentine province of Misiones , favored the Guaraní language, as the Jesuits severely restricted the immigration of white settlers and used the Guaraní as the exclusive language. In the secular province of Paraguay around Asunción, on the other hand, the Guaraní remained the predominant colloquial language of the population - since the number of settlers of Spanish origin was relatively small and they mixed with the locals - the official language there was only Spanish , which the spoken Guaraní in many ways Respect. With the end of the Jesuit reductions in 1767 , the Guaraní also lost its special status there.

Spanish remained the only official language in independent Paraguay . While the guaraní was considered an important cultural feature of the Paraguayan nation, its use was limited to oral use and to literature of a predominantly folkloric character.

Books on Guarani

Only recently did Paraguay begin to use the Guaraní in education and as an official language and to standardize the different spelling systems in use to a largely phonetic orthography .

Regional varieties

By far the most widespread variety of Guaraní is the Paraguayan Guaraní [gug], which emerged from the language of the at least partially Spanish acculturated inhabitants of both the colonial secular province of Paraguay and the Jesuit state and consequently shows diverse Spanish influences. It has (according to SIL ) 4.6 million culturally mestizo speakers. The Paraguayan Guaraní was formerly spoken in the Argentine provinces of Misiones and Corrientes and neighboring areas of Brazil, but has now largely been displaced by Spanish and Portuguese among the local population. As a result of immigration from Paraguay, however, there are still a large number of speakers of the Paraguayan guaraní in Argentina and Brazil.

Independently of the Paraguayan Guaraní, indigenous groups who consider themselves to be the Guaraní people speak a number of varieties of the Guaraní, some of which are very different from one another and today usually only have a relatively small number of speakers:

  • Chiriguano / Guarayo-Guaraní [gui] (50,000 speakers, 34,000 of them in Bolivia and the rest in Argentina and Paraguay)
  • Mbyá -Guaraní [gun] (16,000 speakers, 8,000 of them in Paraguay, the rest in Brazil and Argentina)
  • Simba-Guaraní [gnw] (in Bolivia, 7,000 speakers according to SIL)

In a broader sense, variants of the guaraní are also:

  • Aché or Guayaqui [guq] (1,500 in Paraguay)
  • Chiripá or Ñandeva [ndh] (7,000 in Paraguay, 5,000 in Brazil)
  • Kaiwá [kgk] (15,000 in Brazil)
  • Xetá [xet] (in Brazil, almost extinct)

Mixed languages ​​from Guaraní and Spanish are:

While in Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil there is an increasing assimilation of the speakers of these Guaraní varieties to Spanish or Portuguese, in Paraguay there is primarily an assimilation to Paraguayan Guaraní.

Guaraní in Paraguay

Together with Spanish, Guaraní is the official language in Paraguay. The 1992 constitution, which made Guaraní an additional official language, is one of the few official texts that has been translated into Guaraní.

Paraguay is officially considered bilingual. However, the reality is more complicated. Almost no one speaks one of the languages ​​in its pure form. Higher educated, urban, Eurocentric classes speak a Rioplatensian Spanish with added Guaraní phrases, while less educated, rural, peasant classes speak a Guaraní with a large proportion of Spanish vocabulary known as Yopará or Jopara [ dʒopaˈɾa ]. School education is in Spanish, but Guaraní is taught as an additional subject.

The 1992 census showed the following speakers:

  • Guaraní: 1.6 million (39.3%)
  • Guaraní and Spanish: 2 million (48.9%)
  • Spanish: 260,000 (6.4%)

However, it should be noted that the competencies in both languages ​​are usually not the same. Many people describe themselves as bilingual even though they only speak one of the languages.

The increased use of the Guaraní in education and as an official language took into account the fact that over 80% of the Paraguayan population is guaraní-speaking and a considerable part has only rudimentary knowledge of Spanish.

Guaraní in Bolivia

In Bolivia, Guaraní is one of the official languages ​​recognized in the new constitution of 2009. Since 2013, all schools have had to teach at least one indigenous language in addition to a foreign language, so that an ever larger proportion of the total population is acquiring at least a rough basic knowledge. Especially in the departments of Tarija and Santa Cruz , Guaraní is often chosen.

Phonetics and Phonology


orthography pronunciation
a [⁠ a ⁠]
e [⁠ ɛ ⁠]
i [⁠ i ⁠]
O [⁠ ɔ ⁠]
u [⁠ u ⁠]
y [⁠ ɨ ⁠]

The y is a vowel between [i] and [u], which is also used in Polish, Russian (ы), Ukrainian (и) and Turkish (there: i without a dot). There are also nasal variants for all 6 vowels ( ã, ẽ, ĩ, õ, ũ, ỹ ) The nasal vowels are only distinctive in the stressed syllable, the pre-tone vowels become nasal due to nasal assimilation before the following nasal vowels or nasal consonants, in other cases not pronounced nasally.


orthography pronunciation
m [⁠ m ⁠]
n [⁠ n ⁠]
ñ [⁠ ɲ ⁠]
G [ ɣ̃ ]
ng [⁠ ŋ ⁠]
Voiceless plosives
p [⁠ p ⁠]
t [⁠ t ⁠]
k [⁠ k ⁠]
' [⁠ ʔ ⁠] ( glottal )
v [⁠ ʋ ⁠]
s [⁠ s ⁠]
ch (also x) [⁠ ʃ ⁠]
G [⁠ ɣ ⁠]
H [⁠ h ⁠]
r [⁠ ɾ ⁠]
Nasal + plosive
mb [ mb ]
nd [ nd ]
ng [ ŋg ]
j [⁠ ɟ ⁠]
l [⁠ l ⁠]

See also: Guarani alphabet

Accent and eclipse

The accent is mostly on the last syllable of the stem, the suffixed grammatical morphemes are unstressed ( enclitic ).

A special feature is a certain type of initial mutation , the eclipse : many words that begin with / t- / change this initial sound if they are dependent on other words or are combined with them:

Guaraní German Guaraní German Guaraní German
tape path che rape my way hape his way
téra Surname nde réra your name héra his / her name

There are some nouns that do not have / t- / in their basic form, but still have this alternation.

Guaraní German Guaraní German Guaraní German
óga House ñande i róga our i house hóga his / her house

i This is the so-called inclusive form. This means that the person addressed is included. (me + you / her or my + your / your)

But there are also some irregular nouns with two forms, e.g. B.

  • túva  'father' / che ru  'my father'


In Guaraní, nouns and verbs are not distinguished as sharply as in German.

The Guaraní is a strongly agglutinating or polysynthetic language, which means that many affixes are used.

There are no genera in this language.

The personal pronoun distinguishes the first person plural (“we”) between inclusive (ñande) and exclusive (ore), depending on whether the person addressed is included or not.


Originally, the Guaraní only had basic words for the numbers one to five:

Guaraní German
peteĩ one
mokõi two
mbohapy three
irundy four
po five

The word used for the number five actually means "hand". From six to nine, the numbers from the word for hand and the numbers one to four are pulled together ( poteĩ , pokõi , pohapy , porundy ). Other numbers are formed similarly, kuã ("finger") stands for ten, kuãpo for fifteen and mokõikuã for twenty. Numerals for small numbers are still often used today, while Spanish numerals are usually used for large numbers.

However, the following artificial numbers are used on Paraguayan coins and banknotes: pa stands for ten, for hundred and su for a thousand. Accordingly, twenty means mokõipa , five hundred po sã and ten thousand pa su .

Toponyms and other names

In Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay , Paraguay and Brazil there are many names for things as well as toponyms that come from the Guaraní or the closely related Tupi language . These are written according to the Spanish or Portuguese orthography, depending on the country.

Some basic vocabulary words

German Guaraní German Guaraní
I che big guasu
you nd small meĩ, meĩ
he she it ha'e eat u, karu
we ñande ( inclusive )
ore (exclusive)
drink u ( = eat )
y'u drink water
kay'u drink mate
her peẽ sleep ke
she ( plural ) ha'e (kuéra) to die mano, sapymi
who? mávapa go Ha
What? mba'épa come ju
human ava, yvypóra give me'ẽ
man kuimba'e to take pyhy
woman ña, kuña speak ñe'ẽ
head akã love hayhu
eye tesa one peteĩ
ear nambi two mokõi
nose three mbohapy
mouth juru four irundy
tooth tãi five po
tongue six poteĩ
heart ñe'ã, py'a seven pokõi
hand po eight poapy
foot py nine porundy
water y ten pa
Fire tata twenty mokõipa
Sun kuarahy hundred sa / sã
moon jasy thousand see below

Individual evidence

  1. El País, March 25, 2015
  2. Interactive dictionary German-Guaraní
  3. Wolf Lustig : gibberish. Guaraní - word for word . Rump, Bielefeld 1996.


  • Antonio Guasch: Diccionario castellano-guaraní . Ediciones Loyola, Asuncion 1978.
  • Antonio Guasch: El idioma guaraní - gramatica y antologia de prosa y verso . CEPAG, Asuncion 1996.
  • Emma Gregores, Jorge A. Suárez: A description of colloquial Guaraní . 1967.
  • Silvia Maria Hirsch, Angelica Alberico: El don de la palabra. Un acercamiento al arte verbal de los Guarani de Bolivia y Argentina . In: Anthropos. Internationale Zeitschrift für Völker- und Sprachenkunde , Vol. 91 (1996), pp. 125-137.
  • Anselmo Jover Peralta, Tomás Osuna: Diccionario guaraní-español y español-guaraní . 1950.
  • Natalia Krivoshein de Canese, Feliciano Acosta Alcaraz: Diccionario Guaraní-Español Español-Guaraní , Tercera Edición. Colección Ñemity, Asuncion 2006, ISBN 99925-3-160-6 .
  • Wolf Lustig: gibberish. Guarani - word for word . Rump, Bielefeld 1996.
  • Antonio Ortiz Mayans: Gran Diccionario Castellano-Guarani Guarani-Castellano . EUDEPA, 1997.
  • Antonio Ruiz de Montoya: Vocabulario de la lengua guaraní . 2002.
  • Mário Arnaud Sampaio: Vocabulário guaraní-português . 1986.
  • Lino Trinidad Sanabria: Ñane ñe'ẽ guaraníme (edición bilinguë guaraní-castellano). 1991.
  • Lino Trinidad Sanabria: Gran diccionario Avañe'ẽ ilustrado: guaraní-castellano, castellano-guaraní . 2002.
  • Tadeo Zarratea: Gramática Elemental de la Lengua Guaraní . MARBEN, Asuncion 2002, ISBN 99925-46-21-2 .

Web links