Pykobjê language

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Gavião-Pykobjê, Pykobjê-Gavião, Gavião, Pyhcopji, or Gavião-Pyhcopji
Native toBrazil
Native speakers
600 (2010[1])
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Pykobjê (also Gavião-Pykobjê,[3] Pykobjê-Gavião,[1] Gavião,[4] Pyhcopji, or Gavião-Pyhcopji[5]:11) is a Timbira variety of the Northern Jê language group (, Macro-Jê) spoken by the Gavião-Pykobjê people in Terra Indígena Governador close to Amarante, Maranhão (Brazil).

Pykobjê is closely related to Krĩkatí, but differs from it in retaining the velar nasal /ŋ/ of Proto-Timbira[6] (spelt <g> in the orthography, as in cagã ‘snake’, gõr ‘to sleep’), which Krĩkatí has replaced with /h/,[3]:22, 158 as well as in having the voiceless fricative [s ~ ʃ] (spelt <x>, as in caspacará basket’ or hõhmtyx ‘his/her wrist’), which occurs in the coda position only and corresponds to /j/ in all other Timbira varieties, including Krĩkatí.[3]:21


Finiteness morphology

As in all other Northern Jê languages,[7] verbs in Pykobjê inflect for finiteness and thus have a basic opposition between a finite (or short) form and a nonfinite (or long) form. Finite forms are used in matrix non-past clauses only, whereas nonfinite forms are used in all types of subordinate clauses as well as in some matrix clauses (such as past, negated or quantified).[3]:101 Nonfinite forms are most often formed via suffixation and/or prefix substitution. Some verbs (including all descriptives with the exception of cato ‘to leave, to arrive, to appear’, whose nonfinite form is cator) lack an overt finiteness distinction.

The following nonfinite suffixes have been attested: -r (the most common option, found in many transitive and intransitive verbs), -n (found in some transitive verbs), as well as -c, -m, and -x (found in a handful of intransitive verbs which take a nominative subject when finite).[7]:543

Nonfinite suffixes in Pykobjê
finite nonfinite gloss
suffix -r
mo mor to go slowly
pẽh -pẽhr to extinguish
coh -’cohr to eat (a part)
cahu cahur to suck, to eat soft food
-’coohquehj -’coohcjir to ask
suffix -n
pe -’pen to drink up
pu -pun to untie
cwy -’cwyn to dig
-’coohpỳ -’coohpỳn to gnaw
-’coh’tu -’coh’tun to spit
suffix -c
tyh -’tyhc to die
ry -ryc to rain
suffix -m
tẽ -’tẽm to go (singular)
ẽhjcõ -’cõm to drink
xa m to stand (singular)
suffix -x
aacji -ncjix to enter (plural)

Prefix substitution or loss

In addition to the aforementioned processes, the finiteness inflection may involve prefix substitution or loss. For example, the valency-reducing prefixes are a(j)- (anticausative) and a(a)-, aw- (antipassive) in finite verb forms, but -pe(e)h-, -pẽh-[3]:112 and -jỳ-,[3]:111/-jõh-[3]:144–5, respectively, in the nonfinite forms. In addition, some verbs which denote physiological activities or movement have a prefix (ehj- and aa-, respectively) in their finite forms but not in the nonfinite form. Some examples are given below.[4]

Finiteness and prefix alternations in Pykobjê
finite nonfinite gloss
axpa -pehxpar to grieve
axpoh -pehxpoh to fight
amteh -pẽhmtehr to dream
ampraa -pẽhmpraa to wake up
ajquẽ -peehquẽn to dance
ajcapu -pehcapun to split up in two
ajri -peehrin to get torn
aapi -jỳyhpin to fish
aapi -jỳyhpir to blow (of wind)
aapỳ -jỳyhpỳ to eat
a’tip -jỳ’tip to come close
awjacu -jõhjacur to smoke
awjãarẽ -jõhjãarẽn to narrate
awjahi -jõhjahir to hunt
awcapeh -jõhcapeh to choose
awpa -jõhpar to be able to hear
awpỹ -jõhpỹr to be able to smell
awryh -jõhwryh to travel far away, to be far away
physiological verbs
ẽhj -’cõm to drink
ẽhjtoh -’tohr to urinate
ẽhjcwỳ -’cwỳr to defecate
movement verbs
aajit jit to hang (singular)
aaxỳ -xỳr to enter (singular)
aacji -ncjix to enter (plural)

Derivational morphology

Productive affixes

Pykobjê widely uses the diminutive suffix -re and the augmentative suffix -teh, which may combine with nouns and descriptive predicates.[3]:36–7

Instrumental/locative nominalizations are formed by means of the suffix -xỳ,[3]:47 which attached to the nonfinite forms of verbs.


  1. ^ a b Silva, Talita Rodrigues da. "Pykobjê". Biblioteca Digital Curt Nimuendajú. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Pykobjê". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sá Amado, Rosane de (2004). Aspectos morfofonológicos do Gavião-Pykobjê (PDF) (Ph.D. dissertation). São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo.
  4. ^ a b Pries, Stanley T. (2008). Dicionário Gavião-Krikati.
  5. ^ Nikulin, Andrey (2020). Proto-Macro-Jê: um estudo reconstrutivo (PDF) (Ph.D. dissertation). Brasília: Universidade de Brasília.
  6. ^ Ribeiro-Silva, Nandra (2020). Reconstrução fonológica do Proto-Timbira (Ph.D. dissertation). Belém: Universidade Federal do Pará.
  7. ^ a b Nikulin, Andrey; Salanova, Andrés Pablo (October 2019). "Northern Jê Verb Morphology and the Reconstruction of Finiteness Alternations". International Journal of American Linguistics. 85 (4): 533–567. doi:10.1086/704565.

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