Other Guaranis

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Hollis Hurlbut, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Hollis Hurlbut Nattering Nabob

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    Guarani, an Amerindian language spoken in Paraguay, is an oddity in that its speakership contains a large proportion of non-indigenous people. How could this situation have been replicated elsewhere in the Americas? Could (for instance) Nahuatl or Cherokee have become major regional languages with millions of speakers?
     
  2. St. Just Angel of Death

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    Tupi Geral was a majority language in Brasil for much of its history (even amongst the elites), and Amerindian languages remained the majority up until the 19th century. The problem was the elites- have a revolution that draws heavily on a native mythos, and you could see a Quechua-speaking Peru, etc.
     
  3. Jonathan Edelstein Rooted Cosmopolitan

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    I could imagine this happening with Aymara if Bolivia's indigenous majority somehow became politically dominant early on, possibly through a successful revolt.

    Also, one of the reasons for the success of Guarani is that the Jesuit missions standardized its spelling and grammar in the 18th century, thus (a) making it a language of education, and (b) laying a foundation for Guarani literacy and written literature. If this were to be done for Aymara, Quechua or one of the other widely-spoken South American languages, and if political opposition to education in that language could be overcome, then that might help it spread to non-indigenous people as Guarani has.
     
  4. St. Just Angel of Death

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    ^Indeed. The easiest to do this with is Nheengatu/Tupi Geral, because that was standardized in a similar fashion to the Guarani by the Jesuits and the traders.
     
  5. twovultures Well-Known Member

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    North of the Rio Grande, I see the best opportunity for this is with Cherokee in a disUnited States scenario. After a Georgia/North Carolina conflict, the Cherokee become a buffer between the two states, heavily favoring an alliance with one or the other state.

    The wealthier Cherokee begin to marry into the elite of the favored state, establishing their culture to a larger degree in the state. Instead of a unique Cherokee alphabet, *Sequoyah creates a standardized spelling with the Western alphabet. Cherokee literature develops and becomes popular, and becomes a point of 'national pride' in the favored state.

    After repeated epidemics/military incursions from the unfavored state, the Cherokee move in larger numbers into the allied state, integrating into the culture there. As their nation disintegrates, the elites of the favored state begin to push the language of their Cherokee brethren in school as a point of nationalism, eventually making it a national language.

    The Cherokee culture is less preserved, but ironically the language becomes much more widespread.
     
  6. Jonathan Edelstein Rooted Cosmopolitan

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    So preventing the Jesuits from being kicked out would improve Tupi's chances to remain as a majority language? Maybe, then, what we're looking for is a POD that involves Jesuit missions holding power in a larger part of South America for a longer time.

    Anyway, I wonder if one of the far northern Athabaskan dialects might also be a candidate. Travelers to eastern Siberia in the nineteenth century occasionally mentioned "White Yakuts," or Russians who had assimilated to Yakut ways due to the harsh environment and the long distance separating them from Russian civilization. Maybe the same thing could happen if European prospectors started penetrating Alaska and northern Canada a couple centuries earlier than OTL and lived there for long periods out of contact with their motherlands. I'm not quite sure what POD could achieve this - indigenous legends of gold, maybe? - but if a small group of settlers got there far enough ahead of organized colonization, they might go native and end up speaking the language after a generation or two.
     
  7. katchen Banned

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    I could see the same thing happening with Haudanausee (Iroquois) as well, since they held sway over so much of the American Midwest--at one time, all the way to the Mississippi. Of course the Iroquois would have had to somehow do it on their own since they were hostile to Christianity.
    Many of these North American languages could have best been preserved in some of these sustained Viking contact TLs we've been discussing lately. Including the Haudanasee, the Cherokee, the Muskogee and the Caddo. The 1100s were a time in which these societies could have adopted European technology as it was before encountering European disease then recovered their numbers before encountering the Europeans themselves instead of encourntering all three in a triple whammy OTL.
    In Middle and South America, though, a slightly earlier encounter with, say, Columbus encountering the Aztecs or Balboa or Magellan encountering the Quechua and Aymara before continuing across the Pacific might have led to trade relations instead of immediate conquest with the result that missionaries would have attempted to translate the Bible into native languages which would then have survived.
     
  8. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    The Spanish rule, esp. the missionaries, did standardize Quechua and Nahuatl (and to a lesser extent, other native languages). Actually they did so earlier than Guarani. The point is, AFAIK, that the the Quechua, Aymara and Nahua speaking peoples were largely serfs, and the former native aristocracies integrated in the colonial power system. The Guaranis were left comparatively alone, except for missionaries (and slavers, but the Crown was not supposed to support them).
     
  9. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend Gone Fishin'

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    u

    It's not impossible. Avoid Tupac Amaru's rebellions and you would at least have an indigenous Quechua-speaking elite to counter any influence from the European-descended criollos. I dunno about Aymara or Nahuatl though.
     
  10. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. However, the bulk of the Quechua-speaking people would still be tied into a system of economic, social and political subordination to a largely Spanish elite. This was only partly the case in Guarani lands.
    As for Nahuatl I understand that Spanish rule did standardize the written form of the language and actually helped its diffusion as the missionaries used it as an auxiliary lannguage throughout most of Mexico, but it did not correspond to any important Nahuatl-speaking social force of impact that I know of. I guess that Aymara's situation in its area was not very different from the Quechua lands in 1600s and 1700s, but I have far less information on this point (not that I can claim real hard expertise on the rest).
     
  11. edvardas Well-Known Member

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    It might happen if there was a more successful Riel movement. The Metis were already speaking Michif, a blend of French and Cree. They could then go on to speak Cree, the largest native language in North America.
     
  12. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Have the Maya rebellion in 1848 proceed a bit quicker and they win the war, thus creating a majority Mayan-speaking state in the Yucatan. Remaining whites and mestizos would then pretty much have to speak Mayan on a day-to-day basis, and as it happens many of them already knew the language.
     
  13. Jonathan Edelstein Rooted Cosmopolitan

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    Fair point, and under Spanish rule, there doesn't seem much chance that the Quechua or Nahua-speaking peoples could avoid serfdom. Maybe the key is Portugal rather than Spain becoming the dominant power in Latin America, which, as has been discussed here a few times, might have resulted in some of the indigenous empires being made into vassals rather than colonized outright. In a surviving Inca vassal kingdom, Quechua would have remained the language of business and government, and the Portuguese living in the ports and capital would have learned it.
     
  14. Sawaiki Well-Known Member

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    As 9 Fanged Hummingbird mentioned, the Caste Wars could have made a Yucatec-speaking nation, though with the point of that war being to drive the Hispanics out of the region, I don't think that's quite what the OP was looking for.

    For a while, Nahuatl was the only official language of New Spain, and the native armies the Spanish were relying upon were spreading the language around the area. Assuming that policy wasn't reversed, you might have a chance then.

    Also, don't know if it was mentioned, but possibly Canada, especially in the west? I'm not sure the plausibility on that one.