Languages of Venezuela

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There are at least forty languages spoken or used in Venezuela, but Spanish is the language spoken by the majority of Venezuelans. The 1999 Constitution of Venezuela declared Spanish and languages spoken by indigenous people from Venezuela as official languages. Deaf people use Venezuelan Sign Language (lengua de señas venezolana, LSV).

Chinese (400,000), Portuguese (254,000)[1] and Italian (200,000),[2] are the most spoken languages in Venezuela after the official language of Spanish. Wayuu is the most spoken indigenous language with 170,000 speakers.[1]

List[edit]

Official language[edit]

According to the Constitution of Venezuela, Castilian (Spanish) is the official language of Venezuela.[3]

Indigenous languages[edit]

All languages spoken by the indigenous people of Venezuela are also recognized as official languages and part of the cultural patrimony.[3]

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the indigenous languages.

Family Languages Speakers in Venezuela Lastest ISO code
Arawakan Piapoco 1033 pia
Baniwa 3460 kpc
Locono 140 arw
Wayúu 170000 guc
Cariban Pemón 30000 aoc
Panare 1200 pbh
Yek'uana 5000 mch
Yukpa 3285 yup
Carib 4450 kar
Akawaio 644 ake
Japrería 91 jru
Mapoyo 2 mcg
Yawarana 30 yar
Nadahup Hodï 750 yau
Puinave 568 pui
Guahibo Jivi 8428 guh
Chibcha Barí 2000 mot
Arutani–Sape Uruak 30 atx
Sapé 30 spc
(isolate) Pumé 5420 yae
Warao 18000 mis
Piaroa–Saliban Piaroa 12200 pid
Yanomami Yanomamö 15700 guu
Sanemá 5500 xsu
Yanam 100 shb
Tupi–Guarani Yeral 435 yrl

Immigrant languages[edit]

Languages spoken by immigrants and their descendants are found in Venezuela. The most important are Chinese (400,000), Portuguese (254,000), Italian (200,000),[4] Arabic (110,000), German (20,000) and English (20,000).[1]

Some people who live next to the border of Brazil speak Portuguese. In the areas located near to Guyana English language is used by some inhabitants, especially on Ankoko Island. Colonia Tovar dialect, a dialect of German language, is spoken in the Colonia Tovar.

Languages taught in schools[edit]

English[edit]

English is a foreign language with a great demand in Venezuela. It is spoken by many academics and professionals and by some members of the middle and high social classes. There is an English language newspaper in Caracas: The Daily Journal, founded in 1946. The use of English arose in part due to the presence of oil companies from English speaking countries (especially from the United States) since the beginning of the 20th century.

English is taught as a compulsory subject in the secondary education and in the bachillerato for five years. Bachillerato is a segment of secondary education similar to the baccalaureat, secondary school or American high school and is divided into two branches: sciences and humanities. According to the syllabus approved by the Venezuelan Ministry of Education in 1986 English language is considered as a tool to communicate with people from other countries and to obtain information in the areas of humanities, technology and science.[5] For that reason it is taught using a Notional Functional Approach.[6] In the bachillerato a Structuralistic Approach is used. Despite the lines provided by the syllabus, few people learn to speak the language with only the knowledge acquired at school.

In some universities degree programs to train teachers or translators of English language are offered. In the rest of universities English is studied as a compulsory subject to understand texts written in this language.

Italian[edit]

In the second half of the twentieth century, more than 300,000 Italians mostly from Veneto moved to this oil rich country and left -linguistically - many words in the local language. For example, "Ciao" (English: Bye) is now a usual friendly salute in Caracas, not only between Italo-Venezuelans. There are even expressions in the local young people that mix Italian and Spanish words.

According to the Italian Embassy in Caracas the "....Italian language teaching is guaranteed by the presence of a consistent number of private Venezuelan schools and institutions, where Italian language courses and Italian literature are active. Other similar courses are organized and sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Associations.

The Didactic Office of the General Consulate of Caracas, together with the Embassy, is negotiating an Agreement with the Venezuelan Authorities for the recognition of the Study Diplomas emitted by the Italian School (in Venezuela there is a Civil Association called “Agostino Codazzi” which offers the complete didactic cycle from elementary to high school) so that there can be access to the University system in Venezuela with an Italian high school Diploma.

French[edit]

French language is taught as a compulsory subject in the branch of humanities of the bachillerato or high school for two years. Students learn French grammar in their first year of study, then construct and translate French texts in the second year.

In some universities degree programs to train teachers or translators of French language are offered.

Latin and Greek[edit]

In Venezuela Latin is taught as a compulsory subject in the branch of humanities of the high school for two years. Students learn Latin grammar in their first year, then construct and translate Latin texts in the second year.[7]

At university level, the University of the Andes offers a degree program for Letras Mención Lengua y Literaturas Clásicas (Classical Languages and Literatures). In this program (the only one of its type in Venezuela), the students learn Latin, Ancient Greek and the literature of both languages for five years.[8] In other Venezuelan universities, Latin is a compulsory subject of the program for Letras (Hispanic Literature) and Educación, mención: Castellano y Literatura (Education of Spanish language and Hispanic Literature).

Latin and Koine Greek are also taught in Roman Catholic seminaries.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Venezuela". Ethnologue. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  2. ^ Bernasconi, Giulia (2012). "L'ITALIANO IN VENEZUELA". Italiano LinguaDue (in Italian). Università degli Studi di Milano (2): 20. doi:10.13130/2037-3597/1921. Retrieved 22 January 2017. L'italiano come lingua acquisita o riacquisita è largamente diffuso in Venezuela: recenti studi stimano circa 200.000 studenti di italiano nel Paese
  3. ^ a b "Art. 9". Constitution of Venezuela (PDF) (in Spanish). 1999.
  4. ^ Bernasconi, Giulia (2012). "L'ITALIANO IN VENEZUELA". Italiano LinguaDue (in Italian). Università degli Studi di Milano (2): 20. doi:10.13130/2037-3597/1921. Retrieved 22 January 2017. L'italiano come lingua acquisita o riacquisita è largamente diffuso in Venezuela: recenti studi stimano circa 200.000 studenti di italiano nel Paese
  5. ^ Ministerio de Educación: Programas de Estudio, Educación Básica, INGLÉS, 7o, 8o, 9o grados. Caracas: 1986 (in Spanish)
  6. ^ Ministerio de Educación: Programas de Estudio, Educación Básica, INGLÉS, 7o, 8o, 9o grados. Caracas: 1986 (in Spanish)
  7. ^ Duque Arellano, José Gonzalo Pertinencia y vigencia del latín en la enseñanza de la lengua española, en las áreas de la morfología y de la sintaxis Archived 2008-02-27 at the Wayback Machine; Universidad de los Andes (in Spanish)
  8. ^ Detalle de la Carrera: "Letras Mención Lengua y Literaturas Clasicas" Archived 2008-02-09 at the Wayback Machine; CNU-OPSU: Oportunidades de Estudio de Educación Superior en Venezuela (in Spanish)

See also[edit]