In May and June, 2009, Living Tongues visited the main Mak’a settlement, Colonia Maka located on the outskirts of Asunción, Paraguay to assess the vitality, current use and state of the Mak’a language [mca]. This Matacoan language with about 1,500 speakers remains relatively thriving, but is demographically threatened and devalued in the contemporary Paraguay linguistic landscape.
While Paraguay is officially bilingual, with Spanish and Guaraní as official languages, only Guaraní among the twenty-odd indigenous languages of Paraguay is licensed, and all others of very low status or indeed largely invisible to and unknown by the majority of Paraguayans. Indeed, although Paraguayan Guaraní is technically speaking an indigenous language, it has largely been stripped of its indigeneity in the popular imagination in Paraguay, although it is a powerful marker of modern Paraguayan identity.
Mak’a remains strong in the tightly knit Mak’a community, but is showing signs of yielding to Spanish and Guaraní as not all youth in the Mak’a community use the language as a primary vehicle of communication. Tsofai served as our primary consultant of Mak’a, a small sample of which is offered here.