Guarani dialects

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For the national language of Paraguay, see Paraguayan Guaraní.
Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil
Linguistic classification: Tupian
ISO 639-3: grn
Glottolog: tupi1282  (Mbya–Paraguayan)[1]
tupi1283  (Bolivian)[2]

Guaraní is a Native American language or dialect continuum spoken in Paraguay and parts of Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil.


These share some degree of mutual intelligibility and are close to being dialects; however, Chiripá is reported to be intelligible due to bilingualism, not inherently. Also, there is a degree of intelligibility with Kaiwá–Pai Tavytera, which is not included in the by Ethnologue. Ethnologue considers Tapieté to be a separate language, intermediate between Eastern Bolivian and Paraguayan, and has shifted from the name Chiripá to Avá, though the latter is ambiguous. Paraguayan Guaraní is by far the most widely spoken variety and is what is often meant by the term 'Guaraní' outside South America.

Distribution of Guaraní[edit]


Paraguayan Guaraní, is, alongside Spanish, one of the official languages of Paraguay. Paraguay's constitution is bilingual, and its state-produced textbooks are typically half in Spanish and half in Guaraní.

Speakers of Guaraní who are not fluent in any other language have markedly limited opportunities for education and employment. There are very few speakers of Guaraní outside South America. Those few that exist include emigrants, scholars, missionaries, and former volunteers of the Peace Corps.

A variety of Guaraní known as Chiripá is also spoken in Paraguay. It is closely related to Paraguayan Guaraní, a language which speakers are increasingly switching to. There are 7,000 speakers of Chiripá in Paraguay.

Additionally, another variety of Guaraní known as Mbyá is also spoken in Paraguay by 8,000 speakers. Lexically, it is 75% similar to Paraguayan Guaraní.[3]

The smallest Guarani speaking community in Paraguay is that of the Ache also known as Guayaki, with a population of 850.

Finally, in the Paraguayan Chaco Department, there are 304 speakers of Eastern Bolivian/Western Argentine Guaraní, known locally as Ñandeva[4] or Tapiete. (However, outside Paraguay, Ñandeva refers to Chiripá.)

The largest Guarani group in the Chaco is that known locally as Guarayo who settled in Paraguay after the war with Bolivia (1932–35). They are originally from the Isoso area of Bolivia.


Paraguayan Guaraní is an official language in the province of Corrientes, alongside Spanish.

A different variety of Guarani, Western Argentine Guaraní, is spoken further west by about 15,000 speakers, mostly in Jujuy, but also in Salta Province. It refers essentially to the same variety of Guaraní as Eastern Bolivian Guaraní.[4]

Additionally, another variety of Guaraní known as Mbyá is spoken in Argentina by 3,000 speakers.


Eastern Bolivian Guaraní and Western Bolivian Guaraní are widely spoken in the southeastern provinces of the country.

Eastern Bolivian Guaraní, also known as Chawuncu or Chiriguano, is spoken in by 33,670 speakers (or 36,917) in the south-central Parapeti River area and in the city of Tarija.[4] It refers to essentially the same variety of Guaraní as Western Argentine Guaraní.

Other Guarani groups that exist are the Gwarayú or Guarayos around 30,000, and Sirionó some 800 in Santa Cruz. What remains of the Yuki population estimated at around 240 live in the Dpt. of Cochabamba.

In August 2009 Bolivia launched a Guarani-language university at Kuruyuki in the southeastern province of Chuquisaca which will bear the name of indigenous hero Apiaguaiki Tumpa.[5]


Paraguayan Guaraní, together with its Tupian sisters, the língua geral paulista (presently extinct) and the língua geral amazônica (whose modern descendant is Nheengatu), was once as prevalent in Brazil as it is in Paraguay. The language began a long period of decline in Brazil when the Jesuits, who had done much to spread and standardize it, were expelled from the Portuguese Empire by order of the Portuguese prime minister Marquis of Pombal in 1759. Guaraní survives in scattered pockets throughout Brazil, one of which can be found in a rural district within the municipality of São Paulo. Olívio Jekupé, a resident of Krukutu village, located in this area, has published a book of folk tales written in Guaraní and Portuguese. Because of its proximity with Paraguay, in Mato Grosso do Sul (Ponta Porã), the Guaraní language is a second language locally. In 2010, Guaraní gained the status of official language alongside Portuguese in the municipality of Tacuru, Mato Grosso do Sul. In Brazil, Paraguayan Guaraní is generally referred to as Guarani-Kaiowá.

The variety of Guaraní known as Chiripá is also spoken in Brazil by 4,900 speakers. Chiripá is called Nhandeva in Brazil. Its speakers are increasingly switching to Paraguayan Guaraní.

Additionally, Mbyá Guaraní is spoken in Brazil by 16,050 speakers.


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mbya–Paraguayan". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bolivian". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Ethnologue report for language code: gun". 
  4. ^ a b c Eastern Bolivian Guaraní at Ethnologue
  5. ^ "Bolivia Launches Universities for Indigenous People". 

External links[edit]