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Tutlayt jiral tamazunt

Other names

Geral., língua brasílica, lingua geral do norte, yeral, língua boa

Spoken in ...

Brazil: area of the lower Vaupés, Içana and Rio Negro, Amazonas.

Colombia: Vaupés.

Venezuela: Amazonas, Río Negro area.

Number of speakers

Total number: 731.

Legal status

Portuguese is Brazil's only official language. The country's only linguistic legislation concerning other tongues refers to schooling and is restricted to bilingual and intercultural primary education (exclusively in indigenous communities), although there are actually few trained bilingual teachers.

In Colombia Spanish is the official language, alongside 'the languages and dialects of the ethnic groups in their territories', but this is merely a symbolic recognition.

Spanish is the official language of Venezuela. Since 1999, the country's native peoples have also been able to use indigenous tongues in an official capacity. The Venezuelan state has approved a series of laws to protect its Amerindian languages in recent years, although this situation is not currently reflected in real life.


QUEIXALÓS F. and O. RENAULT-LESCURE (eds.) (2000) As línguas amazônicas hoje, IRD/ISA/MPEG, São Paulo.

CAMPBELL, L. (1997) American Indian Languages. The Historical Linguistics of Native America, Oxford University Press.


Nheengatú is not exactly either a Pidgin or an interlanguage, rather a simplified version of Tupinambá developed as a lingua franca for inter-ethnic communication in north Brazil. Until just a few years ago it was the lingua franca used in the Vaupés region of Brazil and Colombia, where there is an exogamous multilingual system. Now, however, it has been replaced in this function by Tucano, which is also absorbing speakers of other languages in the region.

Lingua geral (general language) is a Portuguese term used in the colonial era to refer to the indigenous language most commonly spoken in different regions (along the same lines, the Spanish term lengua general is applied to Guaraní in Paraguay and Quechua in Peru).

In Venezuela there has been discussion on whether to consider Nheengatú a language or a mixed-race ethnic group. Some experts believe that it is a language, with its corresponding ethnocultural environment and profile, although it has taken in many elements of the Arawakan languages and cultures of the region, particularly from the Baré.


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    Colombia, Venezuela
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