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Have you ever seen with your ears? If not, let us tell you about Japysaka

Japysaka means hear with your ears

Picture yourself in a place where no one speaks your language: all the people talking will be noise to you, and, since you do not understand them, you won’t be listening, but only hearing. The English language, and some others, have two verbs for the act of noticing sounds; one is for when you do it intentionally and the other is for when it incidentally happens. A similar thing happens in the Guaraní language, with “Hendu” and “Japysaka”; the difference is in the emphasis that “japysaka” carries. “Hendu” can, in some contexts, mean not just to hear, but also to intentionally listen; “japysaka” is to listen with care, is paying attention.

The literal translation of japysaka is “to see with the ears” and it is a beautiful way to imply the level of attention the listener will have in the interaction. Being heard, being properly japysaka is a privilege most of the time, especially when the ones who should do it won’t be benefiting from it; that is why the Guaraní became an official language in Paraguay only after the ending of a long dictatorship. But even before its official status, it was an important language, mainly because the Guaraní people had a big settlement: they were in what now is known as Paraguay, parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Thanks to the officiality beyond Paraguay and the politics it brought, the language could be preserved in such a way that its speakers can be people who do not identify or belong to the Guaranies. Being able to be understood, to be listened to that extend, gives all the members of the community, indigenous or not, better chances to get integrated, to preserve their rights, and to speak up.

We all should practice this verb more. We should put all our senses into the interaction when we engage in meaningful conversations with others. This way, we will be able to see beyond our own ideas. The act of listening like this needs to go both ways, of course: that is how communities are constructed, from the understanding of those involved.

Choosing this word is not random; Japysaka is an important word we want you to practice once the city of Kawitzin starts talking to you. We really hope you will use all your senses when you get immersed into the Bodies of Sand story, so you will be able to understand everything we are trying to say.

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