Language of the Day: Wayoró

indios_2007Let’s take a journey…

The landscape may be covered in the patchwork of farms but it used to be filled with trees wider than you or I can hug. Leaves would spread out from the branches of these trees creating a dark green canopy above and as the rain fell, as it did more often than naught, it would be caught by this canopy. The air is humid and the wide Madeira River snakes its way through the state along with numerous other rivers.

We are in the Rondônia province of Brazil and even though this place is a part of the Rainforests of the Amazon it is hardly reminiscent of the designation any more. The province is one of the largest areas that have been deforested in the Amazon and not only has this damaged habitats for a great many species of plants and animals, it has also affected the way of life of all the native tribes who reside in the area.

There are great many native groups who call the Amazon home and they have been there for countless generations, some are still undiscovered. These tribes thrive in an environment that many of us would be hard pressed to survive one night in. There are many dangers that come with living in such a place but the tribes have learned how to live in the Amazon and that is where they call home. One such tribe is the speakers of Wayoró.

The language of Wayoró is a part of the Tuparí branch of the Tupian grouping. The language is spoken by seventy people when it was last documented. Akin to many of the native people who call the Amazon home the Wayoró people have slowly been pushed from their homes as the Amazon has been developed. Today the language is estimated to be on the verge of extinction with very few speakers remaining. The people may still live on but their language will soon be lost. A story told far too often.

Thanks for joining us on this journey in language.

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