Cerrado languages

Tocantins, Pará, Maranhão, formerly Piauí, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo
Linguistic classificationMacro-Jê

The Cerrado languages (also referred to as Amazonian Jê[1]:549) are a branch of the Jê languages constituted by the Goyaz Jê languages and Akuwẽ (Central Jê).[2]:14–5

Sound changes from Proto-Jê to Proto-Cerrado

The occurrence of the consonant */g/ in Proto-Cerrado (as in */g/õt ‘to sleep’, */g/õ ‘to give’, */g/aj’ ‘you’) is believed to be an innovation; it has been claimed to have been inserted in onsetless stressed syllables.[2]:85

The Proto-Cerrado diphthongs *wa and *ja are believed to continue Proto-Jê monophthongs, which have been reconstructed as and *ê₂. Other vowels which have been claimed to have innovated in Proto-Cerrado are:[2]:88

  • (goes back to an unrounded vowel, reconstructed as Proto-Jê *ə̂₁);
  • *u (a merger of earlier *u₁ and *u₂, distinguished in the Southern Jê languages as o and u, respectively);
  • (a merger of earlier *ũ₁ and *ũ₂, distinguished as ũ and in Kaingang and as ũ and õ in Laklãnõ);
  • *ə̃ (a merger of earlier *ə̃ and *ỹ, distinguished as and ĩ in Kaingang and as õ and in Laklãnõ);
  • all vowels in the Proto-Jê unstressed syllables of the shape *pV- were neutralized in the Cerrado languages: Proto-Cerrado *pᵊ- (> Proto-Goyaz Jê *py-/*pu-, Proto-Akuwẽ *pi-).

Sound changes from Proto-Cerrado to the daughter languages


The simple onset inventory of Proto-Cerrado is */p m w t n ɾ c ɲ j k ŋ g/, and the only complex onsets are */pɾ mɾ kɾ ŋɾ/.[3]:158–63

Their reflexes in the daughter branches are shown below.[2]

Proto-Cerrado Proto-Goyaz Jê Proto-Akuwẽ
oral nucleus nasal nucleus oral nucleus nasal nucleus oral nucleus
non-high vowel)
oral nucleus
high vowel)
before a diphthong nasal nucleus
*p */p/ *p */p/ *p */p/ *b */b/ N/A *m */b/
*mb */m/ *m */m/ *mb */m/ *m */m/
*pr */pɾ/ *pr */pɾ/ *pr */pɾ/ N/A *mr */bɾ/
*mbr */mɾ/ *mr */mɾ/ *mbr */mɾ/ *mr */mɾ/ N/A
*w */w/ *b */b/ *w */w/
*t */t/ *t */t/ *t */t/ *d */d/ *∅ *n */d/
*nd */n/ *n */n/ *nd */n/ *n */n/ N/A
*r */ɾ/ *r */ɾ/ *r */ɾ/ *∅ *r */ɾ/
*c */c/ *c */c/ *c */c/ */ɟ/, *h */h/ (before *i) *∅ *c */c/
*nĵ */ɲ/ N/A *nĵ */ɲ/ N/A N/A
*j */j/ */j/ (stressed)/*j (unstressed) */ĵ/ */ĵ/ */ĵ/, *c */c/ (before *i) *k */k/ */ĵ/
*k */k/ *k */k/ *k */k/
(unstressed *ka- > *wa-)
*h */h/ *∅ *k */k/
*ŋg */ŋ/ */ŋ/ *ŋg */ŋ/ */ŋ/ N/A
*kr */kɾ/ *kr */kɾ/ *kr */kɾ/ *kr */kɾ/
*ŋgr */ŋɾ/ *ŋr */ŋɾ/ *ŋgr */ŋɾ/ *ŋr */ŋɾ/ N/A
*g */g/ *g */g/ */g/ *g */g/ N/A


The inventory of the Proto-Cerrado monophthongs is reconstructed as follows.

oral nasal
*i */i/ *y */ɨ/ *u */u/ *ĩ */ĩ/ *ỹ */ɨ̃/
*ê */e/ *ə̂ */ɘ/ *ô */o/
*e */ɛ/ *ə */ɜ/ *o */ɔ/ * */ɛ̃/ *ə̃ */ɜ̃/ *õ */ɔ̃/
*a */a/

In addition, two diphthongs can be reconstructed, */wa/ and */ja/.

The following table shows the usual reflexes of the Proto-Cerrado nuclei in Proto-Goyaz Jê and in Proto-Akuwẽ. The latter group shows a chain vowel shift known as the Akuwẽ/Central Jê vowel shift.[4]:61[3]:164

Proto-Cerrado Proto-Goyaz Jê Proto-Akuwẽ
*a */a/ *a */a/,
*ã */ã/ (before *-m’)
*a */a/
*ə */ɜ/ *ə */ɜ/ *e */ɛ/, *ê */e/ (before a dental coda)
*ə̂ */ɘ/ *ə̂ */ɘ/
*y */ɨ/ *y */ɨ/,
*ə */ɜ/ (after a velar onset),
*ỹ */ɨ̃/ (before *-m’)
*ə */ə/
*o */ɔ/ *o */ɔ/ *o */ɔ/
*ô */o/ *ô */o/ *u */u/
*u */u/ *u */u/,
*ũ */ũ/ (before *-m’)
*wa */wa/ *wa */wa/, *û */ua/,
*wə̂ */wɘ/ (in closed syllables)
*wa */wa/
*e */ɛ/ *e */ɛ/ *ê */e/
*ê */e/ *ê */e/ *i */i/
*i */i/ *i */i/
*ja */ja/ *jê */je/, *î */ia/ *ĵa */ɟa/
*ə̃ */ɜ̃/ *ə̃ */ɜ̃/ *ə̃ */ə̃/
*ỹ */ɨ̃/ *ỹ */ɨ̃/
*õ */ɔ̃/ *õ */ɔ̃/ *õ */ɔ̃/
*ẽ */ɛ̃/ *ẽ */ɛ̃/ *ẽ */ɛ̃/
*ĩ */ĩ/ *ĩ */ĩ/ *ĩ */ĩ/



  1. ^ Ribeiro, Eduardo Rivail; Voort, Hein van der (2010). "Nimuendajú was right: the inclusion of the Jabutí language family in the Macro-Jê stock" (PDF). International Journal of American Linguistics. 76 (4): 517–70.
  2. ^ a b c d Nikulin, Andrey (2020). Proto-Macro-Jê: um estudo reconstrutivo (PDF) (Ph.D. dissertation). Brasília: Universidade de Brasília.
  3. ^ a b Nikulin, Andrey (2017). "A phonological reconstruction of Proto-Cerrado (Jê family)". Journal of Language Relationship. 15 (3): 147–180. doi:10.31826/jlr-2018-153-404.
  4. ^ Oliveira, Christiane Cunha de (February 2014). The Language of the Apinajé People of Central Brazil (PDF) (Ph.D. dissertation). Eugene, OR: University of Oregon.

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