Aikanã and Kwaza

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Aikanã and Kwaza are highly endangered language isolates in southeastern Rondônia, Brazil. Today, their speakers live in indigenous reserves with the last speakers of Latundê (Northern Nambikwaran) and Salamãi (Mondé, Tupian). Whereas the elderly try to maintain indigenous cultures and languages, younger generations are increasingly oriented towards Western lifestyle, and Portuguese is becoming the family language. Protection of indigenous heritage is guaranteed in the Brazilian constitution, but the authorities have little knowledge about Indians and languages, and indigenous communities are sometimes indifferent or even divided over the issue. Aikanã will probably survive this century. The future of Kwaza is unclear. Documentation and description of languages and cultures can be adapted to the community’s needs and play a role in preservation.


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