Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon

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When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil five centuries ago, they encountered a fundamental problem: the indigenous peoples they conquered spoke more than 700 languages. Rising to the challenge, the Jesuit priests accompanying them concocted a mixture of Indian, Portuguese and African words they called "língua geral," or the "general language," and imposed it on their colonial subjects. Elsewhere in Brazil, língua geral as a living, spoken tongue died off long ago. But in SÃO GABRIEL DA CACHOEIRA, a remote and neglected corner of the Amazon where Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela meet, the language has not only managed to survive, it has made a remarkable comeback in recent years.

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