Macro-Arawakan languages

Widest geographical area of any language group in Latin America, see Geographic distribution.
Linguistic classificationProposed language family
Arawakan languages (blue dots), Guajiboan languages (violet dots), and Arauan languages (green dots). Paler areas represent probable extension at the time of contact.

Macro-Arawakan is a proposed language family of South America and the Caribbean centered on the Arawakan languages. Sometimes, the proposal is called Arawakan, and the central family is called Maipurean.


Kaufman (1990) includes the following:

Payne (1991) and Derbyshire (1992) have:

Jolkesky (2016) argues for the following:

According to Jolkesky (op. cit., 611-616), the proto-Macro-Arawakan language would have been spoken in the Middle Ucayali River Basin during the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, and its speakers would have produced Tutishcainyo pottery in the region.

Martins (2005: 342–370) groups the Arawakan and Nadahup languages together as part of a proposed Makúan-Arawakan (Nadahup-Arawakan) family,[1] but this proposal has been rejected by Aikhenvald (2006: 237).[2]


Pronominal system of the Macro-Arawakan languages:[3]

language I thou he/she/it we ye they
Proto-Arawakan *nu/*ni- *pɨ- *tʰu *wi/*wa- *hi- *ra-
Munichi -nɨ/-ɲɨ -pɨ - -wɨ -di -ra ‘3’
Puquina no, -ni-; po, -p-, -pi ʧu, -su- - - -
Candoshi no - su- ija, iː si -
Yanesha' na, no, ne pʲa, pʲo, pe - ja, jo, je sa, so, se -
Aguachile ni pi - waʔaha - -


Several words in the basic lexicon of the Macro-Arawakan languages were pointed out as possible cognates:[4]

language father eye neck hair bone firewood dung sleep die house tooth stone water sky
Proto-Arawakan *apa *uke *ʧano *si *napɨ *tsɨma *itika *maka *kama *pana, *ponku *ahtse *kʰiba *uni *enu
Munichi ukɨ (head) uɕi ʧu(-sɨ) ('fire') kʲa kma hna di idɨ
Puquina juqe miha unu haniɡo ('high')
Candoshi apaː ʂano ʃi nap somaː-si ('fire') ʧikaː makija paNkoː nas kaniːNta
Yanesha' apa ʧnoːpʲ ʃe napo ʦoːm tʲoʔj -maʔ ʐomu pokoːlʲ ahs onʲ enet
Aguachile asanu pani(ʃi) asi ipa enui


  1. ^ Martins, Valteir. 2005. Reconstruçâo fonológica do protomaku oriental. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap.
  2. ^ Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2006. Semantics and pragmatics of grammatical relations in the Vaupés linguistic area. In: Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon (eds.), Grammars in Contact: A Cross-linguistics Typology, 237–266. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo. (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas. Brasilia: UnB. PhD Dissertation.
  4. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo. (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas. Brasilia: UnB. PhD Dissertation.


  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (1999). The Arawak language family. In R. M. W. Dixon & A. Y. Aikhenvald (Eds.), The Amazonian languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57021-2; ISBN 0-521-57893-0.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Jolkesky, Marcelo. (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas. Brasilia: UnB. PhD Dissertation. Available here.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.
  • Payne, David. (1991). A classification of Maipuran (Arawakan) languages based on shared lexical retentions. In D. C. Derbyshire & G. K. Pullum (Eds.), Handbook of Amazonian languages (Vol. 3, pp. 355–499). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Derbyshire, Desmond C. (1992). Arawakan languages. In W. Bright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of linguistics (Vol. 1, pp. 102–105). New Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Migliazza, Ernest C.; & Campbell, Lyle. (1988). Panorama general de las lenguas indígenas en América (pp. 223). Historia general de América (Vol. 10). Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia.
  • Byrne, James. (1885). General principles of the structure of language – Grammatical Sktches: Arawak (pp. 198 ff)
  • Brinton, D. G., (1871). The Arawak Language of Guiana in its Linguistic and Ethnological Relations Philadelphia: McCalla & Stavely. (pp. 18)

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