Paraujano language

Native toVenezuela
Ethnicity21,000 (2011)[1]
Native speakers
1[1] (2011)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pbg

Paraujano is an Arawakan language spoken by the Paraujano, or Anu͂, people of Venezuela. The Paraujano live by Lake Maracaibo, Zulia State, in Northwest Venezuela.[4]

General Information

The Paraujanos call themselves the Anu͂ or Anu͂n (means ‘human being[5]), which is a self-denomination of the people. 'Paraujano' is better known in ethnographic literature.They received the name Paraujano from the neighboring Guajiros. The combination of palaa, meaning ‘sea’, and anu͂ literally means ‘people of the sea’, or fishermen. The Paraujano live in palafittes and are skilled at fishing and boating. According to a 2011 census, more than 21,000 people identify as Paraujano.[1]


Paraujano is a Northern Arawakan, or Maipuran, language. It is derived from Gaujiro, yet is a distinct language and not a dialect of Gaujiro. The two languages are closely related. According to lexicostatistical analysis conducted by Oliver (1989) the two languages must have diverged around A.D. 900.[2]

Status and Speakers

Paraujano is critically endangered[6] and nearly extinct.[4] The Maracaibo region began transforming into a largely populated industrial center in the early 1900s, as petroleum was extracted from the Maracaibo Lake. As the Paraujano mingled with others early on, their language was spread and spoken by some newcomers. However, by the 1970s there were only thirteen speakers remaining. As of 2014, there is one surviving fluent speaker, a thirty-year-old by the name of Yofri Márquez, who learned the language from his grandmother. There are a few partial speakers, most of whom are elderly. Revitalization efforts include Paraujano instruction in six regional elementary schools and the establishment of various cultural organizations.[1]


Paraujano has incorporated some Spanish words into its vocabulary. Out the eighty-nine available words from the Swadesh list, six are Spanish substitutes.[2]


The Paraujano phoneme contains 14 pulmonic consonants and 11 vowels.

Bilabial Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop/Affricate p t k
Fricative ʃ h
Nasal m n ɲ
Approximant j w
Tap, Flap ɾ
Lateral l
Front Central Back
High i i: ɨ ɨ: u u:
Mid e e: o o:
Low a a:

[7] The Paraujano phoneme differs from closely related Guajiro, mainly in vowels and due to the incorporation of Spanish lexicon. There are a number of allophones in Paraujano. Among these allophones, there is a tendency toward palatization or nasalization.[2]

See also

Maracaibo Basin Wayuu people


  1. ^ a b c d Sabogal, Andrés Mauricio. "The revival of Añunnükü or Paraujano language". Proceedings of the High Desert Linguists Society. 10.
  2. ^ a b c d Oliver, José R. (1989). The Archaeological, Linguistic and Ethnohistorical Evidence for the Expansion of Arawakan into Northwestern Venezuela and Northeastern Colombia. Urbana, Illinois.
  3. ^ Endangered Languages Project data for Paraujano.
  4. ^ a b Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. (eds.). "Paraujano". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Eighteen.
  5. ^ Patte, Marie-France (2011). "Territory, Identity, and Language among the Añun people (Venezuela)". Ethnographic Contributions to the Study of Endangered Languages, University of Arizona: 77–90 – via HAL archives-ouvertes.fr.
  6. ^ "Paraujano". The Endangered Languages Project. The Alliance for Linguistic Diversity. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Parujano". South American Phonological Inventory Database. Retrieved 4 May 2016.

Further reading

Taylor, D. (1960). On Consonantal Correspondences in Three Arawakan Languages. International Journal of American Linguistics, 26(3), 244-252.
Taylor, D. (1957). A Note on some Arawakan Words for Man, etc. International Journal of American Linguistics, 23(1), 46-48.
VENEZUELA: Maracuchos: People of the Maracaibo Lowlands. (1999). Peoples of the Americas, (10), 570-572.
Wilbert, J. (1996). Paraujano. In Encyclopedia of World Cultures. (Vol. 7, pp. 267–268). Macmillan Reference USA.

External links

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