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Lying landlocked geographically between the Amazon rainforest and the Rio de la Plata región, Paraguay has for years been one of South America’s most underdeveloped, isolated economies. There are signs, however, that this could be changing. The country continues to post encouraging figures, including an economic growth of 14.5% in 2010 which ranked amongst the world’s highest.
The economy remains primarily agricultural in form, but there has been a steady diversification of industry in recent years and manufacturing now accounts for around 25% of output. The pharmaceutical sector is of particular impo
rtance: from a situation where Paraguay was dependent on foreign imports, they now produce almost three-quarters of medication within the country, and have begun to develop a thriving export business to neighbouring countries and further afield.
Of note also in contemporary Paraguay is Ciudad del Este, a sprawling mix of informal vendors and shops offering discount electronics, clothes and a myriad of other products. Paraguay’s second-largest city in terms of population is also one of the newest, founded in 1957, and on a world level only Miami and Hong Kong are more important free commercial zones.
The local Spanish is similar to the broad Rioplatense dialect which also covers Argentina and Uruguay. This form of the language differs in grammar and vocabulary both with peninsular Spanish and that found in the rest of Latin America, at times drastically so. Another unique challenge for translators working in Paraguay is the presence of a second tongue, Guarani.
Over 90% of the population speak the language, which was native to the indigenous tribes of the region before the arrival of Europeans, meaning there are more speakers of Guarani than even Spanish; although the latter is used in the vast majority of governmental and public broadcasts. Nevertheless, it is not unusual even during a conversation held in Spanish between two Paraguayans to hear frequent use of Guaraní loanwords in the speech; a similar mixing of languages, although not to the same extent, can be found in the more popular press, while ‘broadsheet’ publications tend towards exclusive use of Spanish.
The unique regionalisms found in Paraguayan Spanish, as well as the influence of Guaraní in structure and grammar, mean that a native expert is vital if you wish to translate texts from the nation. If you require translation services for Paraguayan Spanish please contact us for more information.