When we hear “South America,” Spanish and Portuguese immediately come to mind, but there’s more to the continent than meets the eye.
To get a deeper understanding of the region’s language composition, we decided to explore themost spokenindigenous and immigrant languages in South America.
Most Spoken Indigenous Languages In South America:
Quechua (Andean region)
Our adventure begins with 8 million Quechua speakers who reside on top of breathtaking Andes Mountains in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia.
Known for their intricate woven textiles and complex history as an Inca Empire language that was forced out by colonization.
Guarani (Paraguay and surrounding areas)
With five million native speakers primarily living in Paraguay, along with communities scattered across Brazil’s Mato Grosso Do Sul state, this Jesuit reduction language has roots dating back at least to when Columbus sailed to the Americas.
Aymara (Peru & Bolivia)
Approximately 2.5 million people speak this fascinating family group believed to have originated from Lake Titicaca long before Incas arrived!
This beautiful tongue is still spoken by half a million Chileans, mostly descendants of its celebrated warriors or mapuche, which means “people of earth.”
Some theories suggest they were part of what historians refer today as lapita culture from present-day Fiji around two thousand years ago!
Language indigenous tribes are unique because they only teach their children orally how to speak Guajiro.
Many cultural experts believe this maintains their community cohesion, despite adverse social pressures like political ideologies that try separating them from their identity among mainstream civilization efforts.
The Embera tribe hails from Pacific coastal regions where mud and thatch dwellings, and dugout canoes are the norm.
With a population of approximate tens-of-thousands, many now reside on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
With 60k speakers concentrated in southwestern Colombia, the Páez language was already under threat.
This was due to the rise of farmers in regions occupied until then only by indigenous people during the early 20th century, because of its position between two major rivers.
For locals living along remote stretches flanking Peru-Brazil frontier sharing their unique intonations with around fifty thousand tribesmen maintaining cultural heritage while surviving within Amazonian basin climate conditions!
Top Immigrant Languages In South America:
Next up is Spanish, which may come as no surprise given colonialism’s vast influence and current prevalence throughout Latin America!
Around two hundred million people speak this romance language across nineteen sovereign states today some swear it’s spoken differently from country to country.
Surprisingly enough, Portuguese outranks French or German after Spanish, with an impressive 210 million speakers globally.
They are spread out over Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, Brazil, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Goa, and the Macau territory (China).
None are more prominent than Brazil’s multicultural society, whose music, foods, dance, and customs form bonds with others almost immediately upon arriving!
Now we have English commonly known as lingua franca for business among non-native speakers all ovet the globe, particularly, those doing online business prevalent languages taught at schools.
Even if you don’t travel often, knowing basic English phrases might help communicate better when encountering strangers who speak different native tongues.
Such as Brazilians, Argentinians, Chileans, Peruvians, plus several islands like Trinidad, Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, Bahamas, Belize, and St. Vincent & The Grenadines, which are Commonwealth realms.
In Suriname on South American continent gives us the Dutch language, where approximately 60% of Surinamese speaks it as their primary idiom. Originally colonized by Dutch in early centuries.
A minority language that gained a foothold among immigrants, nowadays mainly through food and culture; some estimate that over a million Italians live in Buenos Aires.
They make themselves known through their excellent cuisine, available all across Argentina!
We can’t forget about Germany’s influence. Communities from there have left marks on Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
They converse silently while they take jabs at critics who twist words to suit purposes unknown to others.
Some are dominant, yet they maintain customs from their previous countries. Such a mix includes events like beer festivals and Oktoberfest even!