Paraguay is a landlocked Latin American country. It shares its borders with Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. The country was ruled by Spanish colonizers for four centuries. After getting its independence from Spain in the 19th century, Paraguay was ruled by authoritarian governments. The country had to suffer major losses during the Paraguayan War. Today, it is a developing country and its people are known for being easy-living and happy. Paraguay has often topped the charts of the “world’s happiest place” because of the positive experiences of its population.
The Languages of Paraguay:
There are two official languages in Paraguay, Spanish, and Guarani. The people of Paraguay are bilingual speakers. All of them are fluent in the Spanish language as well as one regional language. 20 indigenous languages are spoken in the country. Sadly, some of these tongues are considered endangered while others are facing the threat of extinction.
Although there are two official languages in the country, Spanish gets preferential treatment by the government, media, and education institutions. The position of Spanish as the lingua franca of Latin America is the reason why it is preferred over the other languages in Paraguay. The variety of the Hispanic language spoken in this country is known as Paraguayan Spanish.
The African Contribution:
When it comes to the Afro Hispanic culture and languages, the common thread is their poor treatment by the state. The Afro Hispanics had to endure a cyclic pattern of constant ridicule for their speech and traditions. But things are beginning to change in South America due to the continent wide activism of the African Hispanics. Africans are not living in the days when they were brought over to the continent in slave ships. They not only want the recognition of Afro Paraguayan but are also demanding equal rights for all the small Afro descendent communities in the country. It is about time that the contributions of the Black people to the culture and languages are recognized. Even the music genres that the Africans have inspired and created should be appreciated and promoted.
Due to the actions of those wielding power against the Afro Hispanics, many people today believe that there are no Black people left in Paraguay. The unwelcoming attitude of landlocked Paraguay towards foreign visitors is another reason why the world doesn’t know much about the Africans of Paraguay. But there are still many small communities of Afro Hispanics in the country and they are engaged in activism to get their rights.
Paraguayan Spanish Explained:
Spanish originated from Latin in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the official language of Spain, where it is spoken by the majority of the population. It was brought over to Paraguay during the colonial period. Since then, it has undergone many changes. All the European languages that become popular in Latin American countries underwent changes after coming into contact with regional tongues. Today, the variety is known as Paraguayan Spanish and is one of the most spoken languages in the country.
Here are some interesting facts about this variety of Spanish:
- It has influenced the speech of the following provinces of Argentina: Chaco, Misiones, Corrientes, and Formosa.
- It is closer to the variety of Spanish which was spoken in northern Spain. The reason behind this is the fact that the first settlers were from the Basque Country and Old Castile.
- According to various linguists, several features of the Spanish of Paraguay have been heavily influenced by the most popular indigenous language of the country. The Guarani Spanish contact of centuries has affected both languages.
- Since Paraguay is in the region known as Southern Cone, also Cone Sul, the vocabulary of its people is similar to that of other countries in the region including Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay.
- Voseo is an important characteristic of the Spanish of Paraguay. Voseo has been around for centuries. It is a characteristic of the Castilian Spanish. The reason behind Voseo’s popularity in Paraguay is the influence of the River Plate lexicon on the country.
- The unique features of this variety are also partly due to the fact that Paraguay’s borders were sealed by the country’s president, José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, until 1840.
- Guarani is the native language of the majority of the population of rural areas. The native speakers of Spanish mostly live in urban areas. But the two languages still come into contact with each other on a regular basis. This is why their linguistic analysis shows so many similarities between them.
- Foreign visitors can get by easily by speaking European Spanish in Paraguay but they will have trouble understanding the regional dialects.
- The use of the personal pronoun in Paraguay is another feature that makes its vernacular different from European Spanish.
- Language learning apps won’t help you much with the Spanish of Paraguay. But you can download Google Translate to learn the basics. For a more in-depth introduction to the language, you can turn to YouTube.
Translation for Paraguay:
If you are planning to visit Paraguay, then you will need to get your documents translated in Spanish, as it is favored by the government. But if you want to connect with the population of the country, you can get Guarani translations. This language is an important part of the cultural identity of the population of Paraguay. Even the colonial Paraguay did not give up on this vernacular. In rural areas, it is the generally accepted regional dialect. Even Spanish speakers in the country use it as their second language.
But getting translations for an indigenous language is not that easy. You will need to find someone who is familiar with the cultural symbols. The traditional views of the population must also be kept in mind when translating for them. Native speakers fluent in English can help those who need translations to connect with the population of Paraguay. The need for accuracy becomes greater when it comes to medical translations. Things like the health-related quality of life and disease status cannot be handled properly without language services.
There are various valid tools that can help linguistic experts work on medical documents without ignoring the cultural elements. They made it possible for healthcare professionals of Paraguay to create their own Juvenile Arthritis multidimensional assessment report, also known as JAMAR. JAMAR enables doctors to understand Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and treat it in the best way possible. The multidimensional assessment of Arthritis is just one example of how translation can help health care professionals. The cross-cultural adaptation of important tests can be highly useful in the health care industry. The traditional medicinal and religious practices can be incorporated for the benefit of native patients.
Translation is also important when informed consent has to be obtained from test subjects. It helps people share their artistic expressions with the world. The problematic areas of translation can be avoided and internal consistency in the documents can be achieved by hiring native experts. From treating Juvenile Arthritis to watching a foreign language video on YouTube, everything becomes easier with the help of translation.