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7774 - Ethnohistory and the current situation of the languages of the Terra Indígena Guaporé

The indigenous reserve Terra Indígena (T.I.) Guaporé contains 11 ethnic groups (Arikapu, Aruá, Djeoromitxi, Kanoé, Kujubim, Makurap, Massaká, Oro Win, Tupari, Wari’ (4 subgroups), Wayoro) and speakers of 9 languages (Arikapu, Djeoromitxi, Gavião-Zoró-Cinta Larga-Aruá, Kanoé, Kujubim, Makurap, Tupari, Wari’, Wayoro). The ethnohistory of these groups shows that their original homelands were elsewhere. A detailed survey of the situation of the languages spoken on this reserve was conducted in 2010, creating a database of 639 residents of the reserve, as well as 213 related persons living elsewhere. The survey was a pilot project for the Brazil’s National Inventory of Linguistic Diversity (INDL). Census data collected included name, age, residence, family relations, language proficiency, and ethnic group. Ethnohistorical and cultural information was collected from interviews and from published sources. This paper summarizes the varied situation of the native languages at the present time and relates these findings to the ethnohistory of the groups involved, to identify factors contributing to language maintenance or loss. Factors which are examined include the absolute size of the speaker community, the relative size of the speaker community, intermarriage, residence dispersal or concentration, Portuguese fluency, intrusion of national culture, and bilingual educational programs. This case study of the T.I. Guaporé is useful since the people of this reserve are important for urgent linguistic, anthropological, and archeological research on the region. The empirical findings show the factors affecting language loss in native Brazilian groups and the difficulty of maintaining languages in highly mixed native communities.

Keywords: T.I. Guaporé, Rondônia, Indigenous Languages, Brazil

Author: Moore, Denny (Museu Goeldi - MCT, Brazil / Brasilien)

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