Tag Archives: Natives

Brazilian Babel

Baré indians in the Cuieiras river, in the Amazon/photo by Daniel Zanini

by Sylvia Estrella*

You may be under the impression – like most people – that Portuguese is the only language spoken in Brazil. In fact, 0.5% of the population (around 750,000 people) are native speakers of 200 other languages, including the indigenous ones.
According to Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a non-profit that has the best statistics on the country’s native population, the 225 remaining Brazilian ethnic groups speak 180 different languages. A few Native groups abandoned their original languages and embraced other languages, such as Portuguese and French Creole (spoken in neighboring French Guyana).
Some of the Native languages remain relatively strong and are spoken by over 20,000 people. On the other hand, some are vanishing and are used by less than a couple dozen individuals. Continue reading Brazilian Babel