South America is one of the richest and most diverse areas on the planet, and you can only expect there to be a similar amount diversity in terms of language spread across the continent. Well I’m pleased to say you won’t be disappointed. But just how many languages are spoken in South America, and what has influenced such a diverse array of languages upon the people living there?
If you’re looking for interpreting services in South America, it’s important to know which language you’ll need. The languages of South America are generally divided into three large groups. Firstly there are the languages of the former colonial powers. Secondly, there is the huge amount of indigenous languages, and finally there are the groups of languages spoken by smaller immigrant populations which have managed to assimilate themselves within South American culture.
As you may well know, the two most-widely spoken languages of South America are Spanish and Portuguese. The former being spoken in most countries along the west coast, and the latter is the official language of Brazil. Within Brazil, however, there are more than 180 indigenous languages spoken among various tribes across the country. English is the official language established by colonisers in Guyana and the Falkland islands, French in French Guiana and Dutch in Suriname.
South America’s indigenous languages vary largely across the continent, but are divided into a few key groups: Quechuan languages (mostly spoken in the Andes), Guarani in Paraguay and other areas such as Bolivia and Peru, and the Mapuche language, spoken in areas of Chile and Argentina.
There even exists a small Welsh-speaking colony (Y Wladfa) in the Chubut Valley of Patagonia following an immigration drive by the Argentinian government in the 19th Century. This led to a boat full of Welsh people setting sail from Liverpool to Argentina in the hope of creating a Wales away from Wales. There are currently 5,000 Welsh speakers in the colony, and there have been links established between schools in Wales and Patagonia, and efforts made by the Welsh government to maintain the use of Welsh in Y Wladfa.
So, as for the exact number of languages spoken in South America, well that depends on how a language is defined. Officially, there are 9 South American languages; Aymara, Dutch, English, French, Guaraní, Papiamento, Portuguese, Quechua and Spanish, but there are also a multitude of indigenous and minority languages spoken across the country.
For details of our interpreting services for South American languages, or any other language for that matter, pay a visit to our website.