search catalogue

A preliminary documentation of Bolivian Guaraní


Language Bolivian Guaraní
Depositor Windy Daviet
Affiliation Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (DDL) UMR 5596 (CNRS/Université Lyon 2)
Location Bolivia
Collection ID 0407
Grant ID SG0366
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection 

This collection aims to document Bolivian Guaraní, a vulnerable Tupi-Guaraní language of lowland Bolivia, providing four hours of annotated audio and video materials, a thematic glossary on agricultural, hunting and building tools), a revision of the phonological analysis of the language by Dietrich (1986), as well as a first sociolinguistic study. Bolivian Guaraní is spoken by around 40,000 speakers, but it is threatened because younger speakers are switching to Spanish.


Group represented

The term Bolivian Guaraní, also called Chiriguano, refers to the geographical area where it is spoken. At the moment, people speaking this language live mainly in the plains in south-eastern Bolivia: in the Tarija area, in the Chuquisaca area, and to the south of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The term Chaco Guaraní is also used for it, but includes as well the variety spoken in the north of Argentina and north-west of Paraguay. The language has spread throughout these areas because of the Chaco War in the 1930’s, which resulted in people’s dispersion.

Bolivian Guaraní has a significant number of speakers (40,000) but it is still vulnerable as young people favour Spanish. The language is under threat and, as a response; there is a real desire from the Guaraní community to keep its language and to try to revitalize it. A lot of Guaraní people feel concerned with the protection of the Bolivian Guaraní culture. They show a real interest for their language in itself. They want to protect their cultural heritage, are motivated and willing to work with foreigners. The Bolivian Guaraní community is very active and well-organized. There are several organizations aimed at protecting their culture and language, such as Teko-Guaraní, Asemblea del Pueblo Guaraní or Consejo Educativo del Pueblo Originario Guaraní.


Language information

Bolivian Guaraní is a member of a large Amerindian family called Tupi, and more specifically of its Tupi-Guaraní branch. The Tupi-Guaraní group itself divides in eight sub-groups (Rodrigues, 2007). Bolivian Guaraní belongs to the first sub-group and has several dialects: Ava, Izoceño, Tapiete, and Simba.

With more than 40,000 speakers, Bolivian Guaraní is the third most widespread language in Bolivia (after Quechua and Aymara). Nevertheless, it is considered potentially in danger by Crevels (2009) and is considered weak by the UNESCO. In fact, although a new linguistic policy was established in 2009 in order to grant official status to the 36 different native Bolivian languages, Bolivian Guaraní and all its dialects are under threat. Today, the young generation is led to the cities by poverty, and gives up Guaraní for Spanish, the major language spoken in urban areas. It is essential to support the use of Guaraní by promoting the bilingual education using modern educational tools.


Collection contents

The materials in this collection were collected in individual sessions but also in collective meetings from speakers of different occupations, ages, genders, and geographical origins (i.e. speaking different dialects) and include different genres of texts such as everyday conversations, traditional activities, traditional recipes, storytelling, legends, and others.
When completed, this collection will contain

  • three hours of audio data and one hour of audio-video data, including word lists, texts illustrating the language in use, and traditional stories
  • time-aligned transcriptions, translations into Spanish and annotations for two hours of recordings
  • electronic parses and glossing in FLEX
  • a lexical database, including basic vocabulary as well as the lexicon of the different tools used in diverse local activities
  • a 100-term glossary of tools used in agricultural, hunting and building activities for community use
  • a phonological analysis
  • a sociolinguistic report focused on the situation of the two dialects in need of studies: the Ava dialect and the Simba dialect
  • an MA thesis


Collection history

The materials in this collection were gathered between 2015 and 2016 during Windy Daviet’s fieldwork for her MA Dissertation research funded by a Small Grant from ELDP.


Other information

The data and relative publications will be archived at the Dynamique du Langage laboratory, in Lyon (France). The materials will also be given to indigenous organizations (Teko Guaraní Association, Asemblea del Pueblo Guaraní (APG), Consejo Educativo del Pueblo Originario Guaraní (CEPOG)), as well as Apoyo Para el Campesino indigena del Oriente Boliviano (APCOB), a non-governmental organization, in order to archive data at their offices.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Daviet, Windy. 2016. A preliminary documentation of Bolivian Guaraní. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

Powered by Preservica
© Copyright 2024