The Brazilian Constitution is translated into an indigenous language

The Brazilian Constitution is translated into an indigenous language

For the first time in its history, the 1988 Brazilian Constitution was translated into an indigenous language. A “historic” gesture of “valorization and respect” for the native peoples of Brazil, where more than 200 native languages ​​survive.

First modification:

2 min

with AFP

The text was embodied in nheengatú or ñeengatúalso called “general Amazonian language”, which for a long time served as a communication link in Brazilian territory after the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, but today only a few thousand inhabitants share it.

“It took us 523 years to reach this moment, which I consider historic,” said Judge Weber, president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), during the book presentation ceremony, in the São Gabriel da Cachoeira municipality, in Amazonas state ( north).

“It is a gesture of appreciation and respect for the indigenous culture and language,” added Weber, in the presence of indigenous authorities.

The Constitution was translated from Portuguese in just three weeks by 15 indigenous experts, according to a statement released by the court.

Also presenting the text was Sonia Guajajara, the Minister of Indigenous Peoples, an unprecedented portfolio created by the leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva upon assuming his third term in January.

The Brazilian Constitution, which was drafted after the last dictatorship (1964-1985), consecrates Portuguese as the only official language. But in the country of 203 million people, more than 200 indigenous languages ​​are spoken, according to experts.

Nheengatú descends from ancient Tupi, the language spoken by the indigenous communities that lived on the Brazilian coast before the arrival of Europeans, and according to Unesco it is in danger of extinction.

It is currently spoken by 19,000 people in remote communities in different Amazonian towns in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, according to Google’s The Endangered Languages ​​Project.

The indigenous people will be able to “know their rights in their own language,” said Joenia Wapichana, president of Funai, a government agency for the protection of indigenous peoples.

One of the main current demands of the Brazilian indigenous people, precisely, has to do with a legal interpretation of the Constitution and their territories.

According to the 2010 census, some 800,000 indigenous people live in the largest South American country, the majority on reservations that occupy 13.75% of the territory.

The organization Project for Languages ​​in danger of extinction considers that there are languages ​​in critical danger of extinction, such as Paraujano, in Venezuela, which records only one speaker still alive.

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