Pantanal, multilingualism, Indigenous languages.


Historically, the Pantanal wetlands were inhabited by diverse ethnicities belonging to various linguistic groups, including Bororoan, Arawakan, Tupian, Gauicuruan, and Zamucoan, as well as some isolates and unclassified languages. Numerous ethnic groups disappeared without leaving any records of their languages, leaving behind only a list of ethnonyms. A point of confluence of different peoples that also circulated in other major South American areas, the Pantanal was a place with high linguistic diversity. Trade networks surrounded and permeated the area, as described in the earliest accounts by Portuguese and Spanish colonizers. As Indigenous groups were affected by colonial disputes over labor and territorial control, these networks and linguistic distributions were disrupted. Several local groups were totally extinguished or assimilated. While multilingual interactions began to deteriorate with the conquest of the lower Paraguay River region, new regional configurations also emerged, such as the alliance between the Mbayá/Kadiwéu and the Guaná/Terena. We provide an overview of the Pantanal’s linguistic diversity and describe interactions among diverse ethnicities with a well-established trade network during the arrival of the first conquistadors. One objective of this study is to elucidate the historical interchanges among Pantanal Indigenous groups. Additionally, we aim to analyze the impact of colonization on the region’s multicultural fabric and its subsequent disintegration.