Venezuela–Language

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Let’s give a nod to two very different languages spoken in Venezuela. 

The Yanomami live in almost complete isolation in the Amazon along the border between Venezuela and Brazil.  They have long been a favorite of anthropologists and geneticists who study them as an example of a people untouched by modern life.  (Well, not entirely untouched.)

Most Yanomami live in  villages of up to 400 people, all of whom live under one long oval roof (shabono).  They hunt, fish and gather fruit from trees, and when food dries up in an area they move; few shabonos last more than a couple years.  The Yanomami are traditionally animists who believe the spirits are present everywhere in nature.

The Yanomami only have three numbers:
1. moni
2. porakap(i), and
jar(e)h(e) ”many”

This makes counting a bit complicated, so much so that we may just have to try to do it in class.
1. moni imi ( lit: pointer finger )
2. polakae imi ( lit: two fingers )
3. polakae ky k ai moni ( lit: two fingers )
4. polakae ky k ai polakae ky k, moni imik xahomae moni imi *
5. moni imik ( lit all the fingers on one hand )
6. moni imik ai moni imi ( lit all the fingers on one hand and another)
7. moni imik ai polakae ky k  ( lit all the fingers on one hand and two on another)
8. moni imik ai polakae ky k ai moni imi ( lit all the fingers on one hand and two and another finger)
9. moni imik ai moni imik xahomai moni imi ( lit all the fingers on one hand and all the fingers hiding the thumb on the other hand )
10. polakae imik

Ever since 1499, when Italian explorers (as legend has it) happened upon the stilt villages of the Guajira Peninsula and said, “Hey, this place is like a little Venice!” Italy has maintained a close relationship with Venezuela.  Today Italo-Venezuelans compose one of Venezuela’s largest and most distinct European-descended immigrant groups and many Italian words have made their way into Venezuelan Spanish.

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