Indigenous languages, small-scale multilingualism, southwestern Amazonia, Guaporé region.


Southwestern Amazonia is one of the most linguistically diverse regions of the Americas. It is possible that traditional Indigenous small-scale multilingualism used to exist in two neighboring regions in what is now Rondônia, on the Brazilian side of the Guaporé River. Permanent contact with representatives of Western society from the beginning of the twentieth century onwards led to great demographic, social, cultural, and economic upheaval among the Indigenous societies in the Rio Branco-Colorado and the Apediá-Corumbiara river basins. Early ethnographic reports suggest that these societies were characterized by traditional small-scale multilingualism. In this article, I summarize the evidence for this and provide a sketch of how the remainders of traditional multilingualism have codetermined the current situation in southern Rondônia, Brazil.