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Guana Indian Language (Guane, Layana)

Language: Guana is an Arawakan language of Brazil, It is no longer natively spoken today, as the last fluent Guana speaker died in 2006, but there are still elders who remember some of the language and some young people have an interest in reviving its use. Guana is closely related to the still-spoken language Terena, and some linguists consider it simply a dialect of Terena. Like other Southern Arawakan languages, Guana is a polysynthetic language with VOS word order.

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Names: The term "Guana" (also spelled Guane, Guané, or Guaná) is a confusing one in this region of the Amazon, having been carelessly applied to several different tribes of Brazil and Paraguay. It is believed that these Arawakan people--also known as Layana, Layano, or Niyolola-- were the first group to go by the name Guana, and that other groups (such as the Mascoian Guana of Paraguay) may have been confused with them by European settlers. Indeed, the Mascoian Guana do not use this name themselves (instead calling themselves Kaskiha or Enlhet) while the Arawakan Guanas do use it.

This confusion with names means that the Kaskiha, the Chane, the Kinikinau, and certain bands of Terena people have all sometimes been misclassified as part of the Guana tribe. Except for the Kaskiha, all these groups spoke very similar languages, adding to the confusion. However, they all consider themselves ethnically and politically distinct from one another. In fact, the Guana were historical allies of the Mbaya people and usually acted as subjects of the Mbaya nation, not in coalition with their other Arawakan neighbors.

Guana Language Resources

Guana Words:
    Our list of vocabulary words in the Guana language, with comparison to their meaning in other Arawakan languages.
House of Languages: Guaná:
    Information about Guaná language usage.
Guana Language Tree:
    Theories about Guana's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Terena, Chané, Guaná and Kinikinau are one and the same:
    Historical linguistics paper suggesting Guana and Terena are dialects of the same language.
El Idioma Guaná:
    Information on Guana including a linguistic map of South America. Page in Spanish.

Books for sale on the Guanas
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Comparative Arawakan Histories
    Interesting book about the history and culture of the Arawak speaking tribes.

Guana Culture and History

Wikipedia: Chané and Guaná: * Britannica: Guana people:
    Encyclopedia articles on the Guaná Indians.
Guana Cultural Objects:
    Museum exhibit with photographs of Guana artifacts.
Indigenous Peoples of Brazil: Kinikinau:
    History and cultural aspects of the Kinikinau/Guaná tribe.

Links, References, and Additional Information

  Endangered Languages Project: Guana:
  Bibliography of Guana language resources.
  OLAC: Guana of Brazil:
  Reference list of Guana language materials.
  Os Indios Guanás: * Língua guaná ou chané: * Diáspora da cultura Guaná:
  Information about the Guana tribe and their language in Portuguese.

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