Brazilian Languages PART V – The controversial structure of nheengatu

Brazilian Languages PART V – The controversial structure of nheengatu

Its common consider that in a contact context borrower languages tends to disappear, absorving almost all  aspects of a certain most spoken language. Ecological criteria like this is very important, but in general dismiss social aspects such as normativity. Although the stigma associated with minority languages is so strong, there may be some efforts in the opposite way. Linguists and anthropologists, with the support of speakers has the power to maintain minority languages, producing campaigns, books and demonstrations in defense of their own culture.



Linguists, specifically, can produce not only cientific descriptions, but also pedagocial grammars which contains words fallen into disuse that earns a recall. In the same way that Língua Brasílica was estabilished by jesuits, committed researchers and institutes can propose language policies. There are some writing sources of nheengatu: Lendas em Nheengatu e em Português (1987), Vocabulários de língua-geral (1929) and Poranduba Amazonense (1890), with a lexicon not too influenced by portuguese than contemporary spoken. Its worth noting that this ancient lexicon is understood by contemporary speakers, because for most of them, ancient words sounds like the language of their parents and forefathers.



So, even syntatic order of nheengatu be the same of portuguese namely SVO since of its inception, the comlex Ancient Tupi system of postpositions are maintained. Moreover, there are some borrowings of other indigenous languages such as dead baré, which is almost never mentioned by most of people who said nheengatu is not a indigenous language or its a poor language.One should not forget about multilinguism of Rio Negro.

The following is one of many evidences about the majority of Ancient Tupi elements in nheengatu structure:

Ancient Tupi Pronouns
Ixé
xe
endé
nde
a’e
i
oré (exclusive)
oré (exclusive)
îandé
îandé
pee
pe
a’e
i

Nheengatu pronouns

ixé
se
indé
ne
a’e
i
îandé
îané
penhe
pe
aintá
ta

Although the elimination of exclusive personal pronouns, Nheengatu also has two classes of pronouns, hasn´t any portuguese pronoun! Quite the contrary, plural 3rd person pronoun aintá is, most likely, an analogy with Ancient Tupi quantifier etá.

In  forefather language: abá-etá – many indigenous

So, why not planning nheengatu most similar to Ancient Tupi?

Youtube sponsored an interesitng lecture serie of Joseph Lo Bianco about language policies and minority languages:


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