Guaraní alphabet

Guaraní alphabet

The Guaraní alphabet ("achegety") is a phonetic system used to write the Guaraní language, spoken mostly in Paraguay and nearby countries. It consists of 33 letters, given here in collating order:

:A, Ã, CH, E, , G, G̃, H, I, Ĩ, J, K, L, M, MB, N, ND, NG, NT, Ñ, O, Õ, P, R, RR, S, T, U, Ũ, V, Y, , '.

Their respective names are:

:"a", "ã", "che", "e", "ẽ", "ge", "g̃e", "he", "i", "ĩ", "je", "le", "me", "mbe", "ne", "nde", "nte", "nge", "nte", "ñe", "o", "õ", "pe", "re", "rre", "se", "te", "ve", "u", "ũ", "y", "ỹ", "puso"


The six letters "A", "E", "I", "O", "U", "Y" denote vowel sounds; the variants with a tilde are nasal vowels. The apostrophe " ' " ("puso") represents a glottal stop. All the other letters (including "Ñ", "G̃", and the digraphs) are consonants.

The Latin letters B, C, D are used only as parts of digraphs, while F, Q, W, X, Z are not used at all. The letter "L" and the digraph "RR" are only used in words borrowed from Spanish, words with influence of Spanish phonology, or non verbal onomatopoeias. The Spanish "LL" digraph is not used in Guaraní.

The tilded versions of "E", "I", "U", "Y", and "G" are not available in ISO Latin-1 fonts, but can be represented in Unicode (except that tilded "G" is not available as a single precomposed glyph, and must be encoded as a combining tilde plus a plain "G"). In digital environments where those glyphs are not available, the tilde is often postfixed to the base character ("E~", "I~", "U~", "Y~", "G~") or a circumflex is used instead ("Ê", "Î", "Û", "Ŷ", "Ĝ").

The acute accent "´" is used to indicate the stress ("muanduhe"), as in "áva" IPA| [ˈava] ("hair") and "tái" IPA| [tai] ("peppery"). When omitted, the stress falls on the last syllable, as in "syva" IPA| [syˈva] ("forehead") and "tata" IPA| [taˈta] ("fire").


Up to the Spanish Conquest of the Americas in the 15th century, the Guaraní people didn't have a writing system. The first written texts in Guaraní were produced by Jesuit missionaries, using the Latin alphabet. The priest Antonio Ruíz de Montoya documented the language in his works "Tesoro de la lengua guaraní" (a Guaraní-Spanish dictionary, printed in 1639) and "Arte y bocabvlario de la lengua guaraní" (a grammar compendium and dictionary, printed in 1722) among others.

The alphabet and spelling used in those early books were somewhat inconsistent and substantially different from the modern ones. In 1867, Mariscal Francisco Solano López, president of Paraguay, convened a Script Council to regulate the writing; but the effort was not successful.

The script was finally standardized in its present form in 1950, at the Guaraní Language Congress in Montevideo, by initiative of Reinaldo Decoud Larrosa. The standards was influenced by the International Phonetic Alphabet notation, and it is now universally used in Paraguay.

Nonetheless, there is still some disagreement between literates on details of the standard. Some feel that the digraph "CH" should be changed to "X"; and that "G"-tilde should be replaced by plain "G", with the tilde being placed on one of the adjacent vowels.

The Guaraní name "achegety" is a neologism formed from "a-che-ge" (the names of the first three letters) and "ty" meaning "grouping", "ensemble".

Toponyms and proper names

There are many toponyms and some proper names derived from Guaraní in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. These are usually written according to the Spanish and Portuguese systems, and their pronunciation has often changed considerably over the centuries, to the point that they may no longer be understood by modern Guaraní speakers.

External links

* [ Comparing old and new script]

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