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The paper explains that the death of colonialism marked the death of Nheengatu in most areas of Brazil, however, Nheengatu is now taught in local schools as well as spoken in court and in government. The paper questions why Nheengatu is used, now that Brazil is free, and the language arose not from the needs of the native populace, but because of the needs of the colonists to communicate with the many native tribes. The paper suggests that studying this language as an artifact and as a truly dead language might be more valuable than promoting its revival.
From the Paper:"In the mid-18th century, the Portuguese government expelled the Jesuits from Brazil, and the language's use was further diluted "by decades of migration of peasants from northeast Brazil to work on rubber and jute plantations and other commercial enterprises" (Rohter 2005). But during "its colonial heyday, lingua geral was spoken not just throughout the Amazon but as far south as the Parana River basin, more than 2,000 miles from here" (Rohter 2005). Although it no longer enjoys such prominence, Nheengatu is now taught in local schools in Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira as well as spoken in court and in government. Interpreters of the language are now doing a brisk business, since it became an official language.
"But why use Nheengatu, now that Brazil is free, and the language arose, not from the needs of the native populace, but because of the needs of the colonists to communicate with the many native tribes? The usual argument that reviving dead languages revives a lost culture does not seem to apply to Nheengatu, as the culture that spawned it was the culture of religious colonial forces. Furthermore, "none of the indigenous groups that account for more than 90 percent of the local population belong to the Tupi group that supplied lingua geral with most of its original vocabulary and grammar" (Rohter 2005). It has survived as a kind of linguistic shorthand and means of communication, with archaic vocabulary and idioms that have little modern application."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Rohter, Larry. "Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon." New York Times. August 28, 2005. ProQuest. October 18, 2009.
- What is a dead language? (2009).Wise Geek. October 18, 2009 http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-dead-language.htm
Cite this Term Paper:
Nheengatu: A Not-So Dead Language (2012, May 21) Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://www.academon.com/term-paper/nheengatu-a-not-so-dead-language-151087/
"Nheengatu: A Not-So Dead Language" 21 May 2012. Web. 22 May. 2013. <http://www.academon.com/term-paper/nheengatu-a-not-so-dead-language-151087/>