ABSTRACT

Although there have been favorable legislative changes regarding the status of Latin America’s Indigenous (minoritized) languages and the linguistic human rights (LHRs) of speakers over the last 20 years, optimal paths toward policy implementation have been difficult to find. Language shift from the Indigenous languages to a dominant European language (Spanish, Portuguese, English) is an inexorable, ongoing process associated with poverty, racism, linguicism, and linguistic and cultural insecurity. Research shows that speakers of ancestral languages are usually placed along extreme poverty lines; for instance, Zajicová (2012) mentions that, in Paraguay, 76.5 percent of people considered economically impoverished are monolingual Guarani speakers. Regarding language death, UNESCO (2010) predicts that by the end of this century, 50 percent of the world’s languages will have disappeared. Language death implies the loss of unique cultural traits and historical knowledge that will probably never be recovered. Linguistic policies, as positive as they may seem, cannot be said to assure prevention of language loss around the world.