In Paraguay, a country in South America, two languages dominate the linguistic landscape: Spanish and Guaraní. The former was introduced to the country during the Spanish colonial rule, while the latter is a common indigenous language. Several other indigenous languages are also spoken by the people of Paraguay.
Official Languages of Paraguay
Spanish and Guaraní are Paraguay's official languages. Nearly 87% of the country’s population speaks Spanish. Guaraní is spoken by about 4,650,000 people, accounting for over 90% of the people of Paraguay. In rural areas, 52% of the Guaraní speakers are monolingual. Interestingly, the Guaraní language has a significant number of non-indigenous speakers, a rare phenomenon in the Americas, as European colonial languages dominate the linguistic landscape of most countries.
Indigenous and Minority Languages Spoken in Paraguay
Paraguay is also home to about 50,000 speakers of indigenous languages, including those listed below:
Aché belongs to the Guarani language family. Also referred to as Guayaki, the language has six dialects that are quite distinct from each other, and in some cases not mutually intelligible.
Ayoreo is a Zamucoan language spoken by the Ayoreo people who are traditionally farmers or hunter-gatherers. Also referred to as Morotoco, the language is spoken by about 3,000 people in Paraguay’s Alto and Chaco departments.
This Zamucoan language is spoken by the Chamacoco people who were traditionally hunter-gatherers, but have since adapted to a farming-based livelihood.
The Matacoan language is spoken by about 650 speakers in Paraguay, most of who are monolingual in the language. Speakers of this language are known as Manjui or Inkijwas.
This language is spoken in the Chaco region of Paraguay.
This is a Mascoian language spoken in Paraguay.
A Matacoan language spoken by about 1,500 Maká people residing in the Presidente Hayes Department of Paraguay.
A Matacoan language spoken in Paraguay and Argentina. In Paraguay, the language is spoken in the Presidente Hayes Department and the Boquerón Department.
This Guarani language is written in the Latin script and spoken by about 600 Pai Tavytera people. Speakers mainly inhabit eastern Paraguay, with populations found in the country’s Canindeyú, Concepción, San Pedro, and Amambay Departments.
Sanapaná people of the Paraguayan Chaco speak the Sanapana language.
Also known as Qob in Paraguay, the language is spoken by the Toba people. It is a Guaicuruan language also spoken in Argentina and Bolivia.
The Maskoy language is spoken by speakers in the Paraguayan Chaco region and is at risk of becoming extinct due to the extremely low number of native speakers.
Foreign Languages Spoken in Paraguay
Portuguese, Italian, German, and Plautdietsch are some of the foreign languages spoken by the people of Paraguay.