When you ask people what the official languages of the countries of South America are, they generally think that Spanish and Portuguese are a sufficient reply.
People tend to forget that there are 5 official languages in use.
Spanish: Argentina Bolivia Colombia Chile Ecuador Paraguay Peru Uruguay Venezuela
Other countries and their national/official language:
Brazil - Portuguese Guyana - English French Guyana - French Suriname - Dutch
It is also interesting to note that French Guyana is a French overseas department and is as much a part of France as Hawaii is part of the United States. So it is part of the European Union and its currency is the euro.
Very true! I might have remembered Brazil's Portuguese and Guyana's English, but I know I would have forgotten the other two.
Do any countries where an indigenous language is still in common use officially acknowledge that language -- maybe not by deeming it an official language, but by presenting road signs, voting ballots, etc. in the non-official language?
Spanish Gives Way to Quechua and Aymara in Peru and Boilivia Fidel Guevarra Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:30 am GMT Indian Languages and effects on radio broadcasting (www.antimoon.com/forum)/t12619.htm
LANGUAGE AND RADIO IN PERU AND BOLIVIA
To put the Guatemalan sociolinguistic situation and its manifestation in radio broadcasting in perspective, I feel it is useful to briefly examine Peru and Bolivia, two other Latin American countries with large Indian populations. Peru has about three-and-a-half million Quechua speakers out of a total population of seventeen million. In addition there are about half-a-million Aymara speakers. Although their numbers are small, compared to the total population, the Indians are concentrated in five southern mountain departments, where they make up as much as ninety percent of the population. Over half of Bolivia's 5.2 million population are Indians, about equally divided between Quechuas and Aymaras. As in Guatemala, the Indians of Peru and Bolivia were subdued by the Spanish and then relegated to the roles of peasants at the bottom end of society.
However, there is a major difference between Guatemala, on the one hand, and Peru and Bolivia on the other hand. Both of the latter countries have had governments which have taken a positive approach to bilingual education and language planning. The Indians and peasants of Bolivia began receiving a more active role in the government since that country's 1952 revolution. In Peru, serious attention was given to the peasants after a leftwing military coup in 1969. Although other governments have come and gone in the interim in both cases, what was started could not be stopped.
Bilingual education has been at the forefront of both countries' policies. In recent years "there has been a tradition of positive government policy towards bilingual education programmes in Andean Latin America" (Minaya-Rowe,1986, 468), and moreover, the aim of these programs "as officially stated, is not to produce a nation of monolingual Spanish speakers, but rather one of bilingual Spanish-Quechua speakers" (Minaya- Rowe, 1986, 475). Bolivia's education system uses "a bilingual approach which will educate its adult population, allowing them to retain their own languages and cultures, while at the same time providing the opportunity to learn Spanish (Stark, 1985, p541). Peru designed its bilingual education program "to draw the indigenous groups into the Peruvian mainstream efficiently and with respect shown to their language and culture" (Hornberger, 1987, 206).
Both countries have even gone a step further. IN 1975, QUECHUA WAS MADE AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF PERU (ESCOBAR 1981, HORNBERGER 1987), WHICH EVEN INCLUDED THE TEACHING OF QUECHUA TO SPANISH SPEAKERS. SIMILARLY, BOTH QUECHUA AND AYMARA WERE MADE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES, COEQUAL TO SPANISH, IN BOLIVIA (MINAYA-ROWE, 1986). ONE OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GIVING OFFICIAL STATUS WAS "THE USE OF BOTH QUECHUA OR AYMARA AND SPANISH ON (THE) RADIO" (MINAYA-ROWE, 1986).There are, in fact, some great differances between these countries and Guatemala in regards to the use of Indian languages in radio broadcasting.
Both countries, like Guatemala, have Catholic and Protestant stations that use Indian languages (Ballon, 1987; Fontenelle, 1985; Gavilan, 1983; Moore, 1985; Oros, 1987; Perry, 1982; Povrzenic, 1987b, 1987c). But what about privately owned commercial stations? In the Andean highlands of southern and central Peru, there are at least several commercial stations known to broadcast in Quechua and/or Aymara, in addition to Spanish (Hirahara & Inoue, 1984a, 1984b; Llorens and Tamayo, 1987; Povrzenic, 1987a, 1987b). These include at least one member of the Cadena de Emisoras Cruz, one of Peru's largest radio networks (Hirahara & Inoue, 1984a). In addition, Peru's most powerful commercial radio broadcaster, Radio Union in Lima, has an hour long program in Quechua every morning (Hirahara, 1981; Montoya, 1987). Likewise, in Bolivia commercial broadcasters are known to broadcast in indigenous languages (Gwyn, 1983; La Defensa, 1986; Povrzenic, 1983).
What is most significant, though, is that in both cases the official government stations have added Indian language broadcasts. Peru's Radio Nacional broadcasts in both Quechua and Aymara (Povrzenic, 1987a), as does Bolivia's Radio Illimani (Moore, 1985). IN FACT, THE PERUVIAN GOVERNMENT WENT A STEP FURTHER IN 1988 WHEN THEY RENAMED RADIO NACIONAL WITH THE QUECHUA NAME RADIO PACHICUTEC (KLEMETZ, 1989).
In summary, the sociolinguistic situation in Peru and Bolivia is markedly different from that in Guatemala, although all three share Spanish as a dominant language over various native languages. The difference, though is that in Peru and Bolivia, efforts have been made not only to preserve, but to give status to the native languages. Furthermore, the status of native languages in the two countries is reflected in their use by all levels of radio broadcasting in each country; private, religious, and governmental.
Bolivia: population, 7,414,000 This country has the highest percentage of Indians of any in the hemisphere. Spanish, the official language, is spoken by less than half the population. The two major Indian languages are Quechua, with about 2 million speakers, and Aymara, with about 1½ million. Others include Chiquito, Guarani, and Tacana. (more here on Bolivia in general) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Spanish, Quechua and Aymara By Ricardo Segreda
In April 2006, two Peruvian congresswomen from Cuzco proclaimed that they would communicate only in Quechua during plenary sessions in congress. Thus another salvo had been fired in Peru's century's old struggle in the use of language to determine national identity and culture. Since 1975, Peru's constitution has recognized Quechua and Aymara along with Spanish as official languages of the Republic. However, since Spain's conquest of South America during the 16th century, Spanish has served as the dominant language of Peru, after the conquistadors excluded all indigenous languages from cultural and political discourse. In Peru as in other Andean nations, the majority of the population speaks Spanish, but significant minorities (estimates range up to ten million) are also very proudly bilingual, speaking one form or another of Quechua or Aymara.
The word "Quechua" is used to denote both a people and a wide variety of spoken dialects that pre-date not only the Spanish empire, but the Incan empire—and by at least a millennium. Peru itself can lay claim to being the birthplace of Quechua, which then became the lingua franca of trade throughout the Andes. But the language of Quechua itself has at least forty separate dialects that have evolved with wide variations according to geography. Indeed, within Peru, northern Quechua and southern Quechua can not use their respective languages to communicate.
A commonly held belief has evolved that the Cuzco Quechua is the most authentic and complete Quechua, but some historians argue that was more due to Cuzco being the seat of the Incan empire which arose in the early 15th century and had mandated it as the official language of the realm, though they tolerated the use of other idioms. Ironically, it was the Spanish who actually spread the use of Cuzco Quechua more so than Incan emperors by utilizing it as a means of broadening their conquest of the New World even while curtailing its ability to serve the needs of its native speakers.
Quechua words that have become incorporated into the English language through Spanish include: coca, condor, gaucho, jerky, llama, potato, puma, and quinoa. The Huttese, language of the Huts in the Star Wars series, is largely taken from Quechua.
actually, the 1975 constitution with the recognition of quechua was abolished already in the 1980s. since 1993 the constitution states that "quechua, aymara and other indigenous languages are official in the areas where they are spoken" - without making it very precise neither which regions those are, nor what this being official really entails.
well and "northern" and "southern" are a bit difficult terms to describe quechua, as actually quechua A (or I or waywash) is spoken basically in the middle, and quechua B (or II or wampuy) both in the north (like in Ecuador) and in the South (southern Peru, Bolivia, and a bit also in Chile and Argentina).
well quechua is indeed used on radio stations, but it is still on the decline - not actually numberwise (in the 2007 census more people named quechua as their language than in the 1993 census) but considering a growing population it is declining percentage-wise, and it seems only a matter of time until also the net number of speakers will decline... of course the census is to be taken carefully - the question there was "what language did you speak in your childhood" and people were only allowed to answer one language, so there is nothing about bilingualism there, but a lot of children actually grow up speaking both languages...
when the spanish arrive,d of course, a lot more languages were spoken in the incan empire, quechua was the lingua franca, and used as such also by the spanish (some hacenderos for example preferred their indigenous workers not to learn spanish, as that would mean they might learn about their rights), actually they brought it into areas where it hadn't been spoken yet... also when this changed, and there was more pressure for people to speak spanish, they kept speaking quechua - it was only in the 20th century, especially in the second half of the 20th century, that due to migration to cities, more access to education and to jobs, industrialization, modernisation etc. more and more people switched to spanish...
in "my" village, all the people over the age of 20 that i interviewed were either able to speak both languages well, or, in the case of a few older ones, only spoke quechua - but about half of the children did not know quechua or had only passive knowledge...
While I have a vague regret about the disappearance of minor languages on the planet, I do think that it is normal in the modern world for more and more languages to consolidate. THis is one of the things that has been considered to be "progress" in the developed countries -- facilitating communication in various countries and regions.
Maintaining ultra minority languages is just preventing development in certain places.
well one question is of course, whether a language with (according to some estimates) approximately 12 million speakers can really be considered a "minor language". languages have appeared and disappeared all throughout history, but they are doing so at a much faster rate these days.
in my opinion that doesn't express modernity (though it is caused by it) but rather, relations of power. according to wikipedia dutch has 22 million speakers - less than double of quechua, modern hebrew has only 5 million speakers - less than half of quechua. no one seems to see these languages as an impediment of progress.
maintaining languages, in my opinion, is not per se preventing development. considering only certain languages as modern and insisting on their use is. it is not only forcing the speakers of those languages to learn others (and not pass their languages on to their children) but it is also putting them at a clear disadvantage for those generations that are still born speaking their minority languages, and their children who of course still learn the majority langauge with an accent etc.
and anyway, even if the whole world spoke one language (for example english), it would soon end up being broken into many dialects that aren't all mutually intelligible. i guess a certain base could be kept by a mutual written code and international media, but still, it is normal for people to change their way of speaking.
(of course, some languages that only have a 100 or 1000 or 10.000 speakers can not be maintained and you can't force people to do so - though there are also langauges with such small numbers of speakers, but the speakers do maintain their language, by their own will, quite succesfully.)