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"An Indigenous Language With Unique Staying Power"

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay — Legislators on the floor of Congress deliver speeches in it. Lovers entwined on Asunción’s park benches murmur sweet nothings with its high-pitched, nasal and guttural sounds. Soccer fans use it when insulting referees. Related Elementary school students learning Guaraní, which is a required subject in Paraguay. To this day, Paraguay remains the only country in the Americas where a majority of the population speaks one indigenous language: Guaraní. It is enshrined in the Constitution, officially giving it equal footing with the language of European conquest, Spanish. And in the streets, it is a source of national pride.

“Only 54 of nearly 12,000 schools teach Portuguese,” said Nancy Benítez, director of curriculum at the Ministry of Education, of the language of Brazil, the giant neighbor that dominates trade with Paraguay. “But every one of our schools teaches Guaraní.”

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