Paraguayan’s Lost Bone in 2012

Recently I have experienced something my wife told me about before, but that I had never gone through myself.

She said she never learned to play the guitar due to the constant mockery of her older siblings.

By extrapolating this situation, I can say that apparently, this is a recurrent topic in Paraguay. Many Paraguayans do not accomplish things, dreams, projects, just because they fear what others would say about it. She said she did not learn to play the guitar when she was a teenager due to the constant mockery of her older siblings. I couldn’t believe this. Was the mockery so grave that she gave up taking lessons?

No wonder then, in my English classes, one of the recurrent issues is fear to talk. There are in fact, different types of students, depending on personality and temperament traits. However, a high number of non-riskers, extremely cautious students show up in my English classes. This feature prevents them from speaking up in a short term. I am tempted to relate this cultural issue of mocking someone who does something out of the norm to this academic issue.

Let me explain myself. Here’s my own theory: apparently, it is Ok for a Paraguayan to have puchero for lunch, no mockery implied since it is an ordinary meal. But if you have a shrimp cocktail would be too much for “inferior” people like us that do not deserve “fancy” dishes as that one. Another example: It is Ok to speak Guarani or Spanish in Paraguay, since they are official languages in our country. But it is “bragging” to speak a foreign one -such as English- in an open space. Even if it is specified that it is only for English speakers. I came to this conclusion thanks to the words of some people who wrote in the ISE group on Facebook. According to these people, just because of the fact that I wrote in English in the specified “only for teachers” section, I was trying to brag about my foreign language, according to one person. The specific Guarani words used were “osobrase” meaning, “wanting to brag” and “moopio“.

This last word “moopio” literally denotes “from where”, but metaphorically it has a very negative connotation. I guess it means “how come you inferior people have the guts to do something extra-ordinary“, undermining anything that a person could offer that does not comply to the ordinary rule.

I simply arrived to this concept since another person -I guess not related to the first one- reinforced my idea by stating “Chura rente ko pe kakuaa vakue avei ishhh“. This statement assumes that we Paraguayans all come from the same source, a very humble one (sociologically true??). And because we all come from this very humble source, how dare we brag by using a foreign language, which was classified by this person as being “cosmopolitan” and “foreign” (do they actually carry negative connotations??)

I chose Paraguayan’s Lost Bone in 2012 as the title of this article, since I strongly believe that even today, 2012, many Paraguayans unfortunately are still looking for their Lost Bone, in the words of Helio Vera. Reacting with strong Guarani words (I guess looking for identity?) to English in the specific “for English speakers only” section, described as “aire de soberbia y autosuficiencia elitista y excluyente

I dream of a country in which anyone can express themselves freely in the language of their liking (provided there are listeners of the same language).

I dream of a country in which people never try to make you feel separated just because you actually know something. (Knowing is actually good, not bad!!)

I dream of a country in which vulgarity and ignorant comments are not appreciated by its population, specially by the ones who have access to education.

I encourage you, Paraguayan reader to keep on studying, not to listen to some who want to undermine your effort by saying “moopio” to you. Keep your heart humble though, since if that statement was true: airs of pride and exclusive, elitist self-sufficiency”, then you would have the wrong motivation for learning.

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3 thoughts on “Paraguayan’s Lost Bone in 2012

  1. Mr. Cristoful, I’ve never heard or read anyone describe this feature of our culture so well. Indeed it is hard to achieve things when everyone around you treat you as a “weirdo” just because you’re willing to know more than what is common to most people. Thank you for this wonderful post!!!

  2. I’ve run into this attitude in so many different areas of interaction during my years in Paraguay. There is the general, all-pervading, rarely acknowledged, and, never discussed sentiment that a Paraguayan is somehow inferior, socially and intellectually, to other people. This was reinforced during the Stroessner years when anyone who was in some way considered “different” was kept hidden so that any possibility of perceived inferiority was headed off. A person’s value was based on the ability to blend in to the masses. When it comes to the present language situation, I regret to say that I have run into the same attitude in my classes over the years. This is not a condemnation of my students, but of a societal norm that limits the intellectual, creative, and even economical development of the Paraguayan people.

  3. Having the opportunity of receiving education requires responsability! I think most people are not aware of that fact! It is sad to see that educated people react the same way as uneducated people would!
    Being and acting different requires willingness and hard work. Changing ourselves is the first step to changing our country!
    I want that country too Christian!!

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