Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

Hello everybody! Sorry for the recent lack of posts, it’s been a very crazy few days. I just wanted to pass along a pair of pictures which I think provide some great perspective.

We’re raised and taught that South America is generally a Spanish-speaking area, with Brazil as the Portuguese-speaking exception, and then a few other official languages. South American official languages could be mapped like this:

langs.gif

However, those are just the languages which were promoted with colonization. In reality, there are hundreds of languages and language families which developed and flourished in South America, some of which survive even today. So, if we were to redact just a small part of that map to show past and present native languages, it would look more like this (courtesy the Athena review language archive):

natlangs.gif

Impressive, isn’t it?

Many of these original languages are dying, but there are still tens of thousands (at least) of monolingual speakers of these native languages. So, yes, many Brazilians speak Portuguese. Many Colombians speak Spanish. However, not everybody in those countries speaks these main languages, and, well, those who don’t were there first.


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