Kulina language

Native toPerú, Brazil
EthnicityKulina people
Native speakers
3,900 (2002–2006)[1]
  • Culina
Language codes
ISO 639-3cul

Kulina (also Kulína, Kulyna, Culina, Curina, Corina, Korina, Culina-Madijá, Madijá, Madija, Madiha, Madihá) is an Arawan language of Brazil and Peru spoken by about 4,000 Kulina people. With such few speakers, Kulina is considered a threatened language. Kulina is similar to the Deni language, as they have even been considered different dialects of the same language. Both languages have SOV word order,[2] as well as three sets of alveolar affricate consonants. It is believed the presence of the reconstructed phoneme *s in place of the fricative *sh is indicative of the Kulina and Deni languages as opposed to other languages in the Arawan family.[3]

History and Geography

The Kulina people traditionally live in the states of Acre and Amazonas in Brazil and the Ucayali region in Peru.[4] In Acre and Ucayali, the villages are found along the Purus and Envira rivers. In Amazonas, the villages are around the Juruá, Tarauacá and Jutaí rivers.[4]


Kulina is a member of the Arawan language family.[4] According to Dienst (2014), it forms a Madihá dialect continuum with Western Jamamadi and Deni.[4] The term madihá means 'people' in all of these languages.[4]


The basic constituent order is subject–object–verb. It is predominantly a head-marking language with agglutinative morphology and some fusion.[4] Kulina is a head-final language and contains many more suffixes than prefixes.[4] There are two noun classes and two genders and agreement on transitive verbs is determined by a number of complex factors, both syntactic and pragmatic.[4] In transitive sentences, the verb agree with the object in gender and with the subject in person and number. In intransitive sentences, the verb agrees with its subject in person, number and gender.[4]



Labial Dental Alveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive voiced b
voiceless p k
aspirated t̪ʰ
Fricative h
Affricate voiced d͡z
voiceless t͡s
aspirated t͡sʰ
Nasal m n
Rhotic ɾ
Approximant β~w

Consonants sounds /pʰ, t̪, d͡z, t͡s, t͡sʰ, ɾ, β~w/ may also be pronounced as /ɸ~f, t͡ʃ, z~ɟ, s, sʰ~ʃ, l, v/.


Front Back
Close i (u)
Mid ɛ o
Open a

An [a] sound can also range to a [ɨ] sound. The [u] vowel sound only appears in diphthongs.[4]


  • Boyer, Cindy & Jim Boyer. 2000. Dictionario: (sic) Culina - Castellano. Unpublished Manuscript.
  • Dienst, Stefan. 2014. A Grammar of Kulina. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Dienst, Stefan. 2009. "Stative Verbs in Kulina". ReVel Revista Virtual de Estudos de Lingaugem.
  • Diesnt, Stefan. 2008a. "Portuguese Influence on Kulina". In Thomas Stolz, Dik Bakker & Rosa Salas Palomo (eds.) Aspects of language contact. New theoretical, methodological and empirical findings with special focus on Romancisation processes, 287-297. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Dienst, Stefan. 2008b. "Why Kulina doesn't have an antipassive". Amerindia 32: 27-36.
  • Dienst, Stefan. 2005. "The innovation of s in Kulina and Deni". Anthropological Linguistics 52: 209-243.
  • Monserrat, Ruth Maria Fonini & Abel O. Silva. 1986. Gramática da língua Kulina. Dialeto do Igarapé do Anjo. Acre: Conselho Indigenista Missionário.
  • Silva, Abel O. & Ruth M. F. Monserrat.1984. Dicionário Kulina – Português e Português – Kulina. (Dialeto do Igarapé do Anjo). Acre: Conselho Indigenista Missionário.
  • Tiss, Frank. 2004. Gramática da língua Madiha (Kulina). São Leopoldo: Oikos.
  • Wright, Pamela Sue. 1991. La hipótesis del inacusativo y los verbos mádija (culina). Revista Latino-americana de Estudios Ethnolingüísticos 6: 49-62.
  • Wright, Pamela Sue. Madija predicates. Working Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota 39: 93-140.


  1. ^ Culina at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "Culina Language and the Culina Indian Tribe (Kulina Madihá, Kulína, Kulyna, Kurina, Corina, Madija, Kollina, Kulino)". www.native-languages.org. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  3. ^ Dienst, Stefan. "The Innovation of s in Kulina and Deni". Anthropological Linguistics. 47: 424–441.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stefan., Dienst (2014). A Grammar of Kulina. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter. ISBN 9783110339680. OCLC 898770080.

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