Guarani Language...
One of the oldest in the Americas

Luthier. Harp maker. Paraguay.
Luthier. Harp maker © Wolf Lustig

The Guarani language has not only managed to survive the pounding of time and civilization, it's thriving more than ever. In fact, only recently, the Paraguayan government has created the Academy of Guaraní Language (Ava Ñe'e Rerekuá Pave), first of its kind in the Americas.

Paraguay culture is deeply rooted in Guaraní (Avañe'e~) language, culture and traditions, more than 90% of the population use it daily along with Spanish. Furthermore, through the Constitution of 1992, it was recognized as one of the two official languages of the nation.

Up to date, it is the only indigenous language of South America to have managed to reach that status.

The name itself is a castellanization of the Guaranian word "guariní", meaning "war" or "warrior". To others, until the arrival of European conquistadores to the New World, they called themselves Abá (meaning "men" or "people") and were the Jesuits to name them Guaranís instead.

Apparently, that name was assigned to the natives who had accepted conversion to Christian religion, while those who didn't where called Cayua or Caingua (ka'aguygua), which could be roughly translated as "the ones from the forest".

For more info on this chapter of South American history, please visit Jesuit Missions of the Guaranís and Jesuit Block and Estancias de Cordoba.

Even though widely recognized as Pre-columbian language, its origins are uncertain and subject of speculation and further studies, however, some linguists place it in the range of 5,000 years, while others do it in the range of 2,000 years of age. Early records of its existence though - to western civilization - goes back to early XVI century (1530).

It was once spoken throughout most of the southern part of the Americas by native aboriginals, today it's only found to the South of the Amazon, spoken by approximately 4.6 million people in Argentina (Misiones province mainly), Bolivia (parts of it), Brazil (southern part) and Paraguay (fully).

Guarani language is part of the Tupí-Guaraní language family. The Paraguayan-Guaraní includes the Mbayá and the Avá Guayakí.

Guaraní alphabet (Avañe'e?me Achegety)
The Guaraní alphabet shown below was introduced after a Guaraní language congress in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Guarani alphabet
Many thanks to

Download here the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Guaraní language (PDF format).

Article One:
Mayma yvypóra ou ko yvy ári iñapyty'yre ha eteîcha tecoruvicharendá ha acatúape jeguerekópe; ha ikatu rupi oikuaa añetéva ha añete'yva, iporâva ha ivaíva, tekotevê pehenguéicha oiko oñondivekuéra.

English translation:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

To learn more about Guaraní language, history, culture, customs and traditions, please visit the following sources...

The true origins of the Guarani language - as well as other indigenous languages in this part of South America - still remain much of a mystery awaiting to be discovered.


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