Tupi Austral

Língua Geral

Língua Geral (Portuguese: literally, 'common' or 'general language') is the name of two distinct linguae francae spoken in Brazil, the língua geral paulista, now extinct; and the língua geral amazônica whose modern descendant is Nheengatu.

Both were simplified versions of languages spoken by the Tupi people. Portuguese colonizers arrived in Brazil in the 16th century and, faced with an indigenous population which spoke many languages, sought a means to establish effective communication among the many groups. The two languages were used in the Jesuit missions in Brazil and by early colonists; and came to be used by black slaves and other Indian groups.

Língua Geral Amazônica

The língua geral amazônica (Amazonian general language), or língua brasílica (Brazilian language) was based on tupinambá, the language of the Tupi along the northern Brazilian coast in Maranhão and Pará. It was carried into the interior and spread across the Amazon region in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its use later declined, partially as a result of the imposition of the Portuguese language by the Marquis of Pombal (1758) and of the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil (1759), as well as because of migrations inside Brazil.

Now known as nheengatu (also nhengatu, nyengatú, língua geral, geral, yeral), it is still spoken along the Rio Negro in northern Brazil (as well as in neighboring Colombia and Venezuela). There are perhaps around 8,000 speakers according to The Ethnologue (2005) (Rohter (2005) gives a much larger number); the language has recently regained some recognition and prominence after having been suppressed for many years. It is closely related to Guarani.

Língua Geral Paulista

The língua geral paulista (São Paulo general language), or tupi austral (Southern Tupi) was based on the language of the Tupi of São Vicente, São Paulo, and the upper Tietê River. In the 17th century it was widely spoken in São Paulo and spread to neighboring regions. It subsequently lost ground to Portuguese, however, and eventually became extinct.

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