Yaminawa language

Native toPeru, Bolivia, Brazil
EthnicityYaminawá and related peoples
Native speakers
2,729 (2006–2011)[1]
Est. 400 uncontacted speakers of Yora (2007)
  • Mainline Panoan
    • Nawa
      • Headwaters
        • Yaminawa
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
yaa – Yaminawa
ywn – Yawanawá
mcd – Sharanawa
swo – Shaninawa
mts – Yora

Yaminawa (Yaminahua) is a Panoan language of western Amazonia. It is spoken by the Yaminawá and some related peoples.

Yaminawa constitutes an extensive dialect cluster. Attested dialects are two or more Brazilian Yaminawa dialects, Peruvian Yaminawa, Chaninawa, Chitonawa, Mastanawa, Parkenawa (= Yora or "Nawa"), Shanenawa (Xaninaua, = Katukina de Feijó), Sharanawa (= Marinawa), Shawannawa (= Arara), Yawanawá, Yaminawa-arara (obsolescent; very similar to Shawannawa/Arara), Nehanawa).[3]

Very few Yaminawá speak Spanish or Portuguese, though the Shanenawa have mostly shifted to Portuguese.[4]


The vowels of Yaminawa are /a, i, ɨ, u/. Yaminawa has /ɯ/ instead of /u/. Sharanawa, Yaminawa, and Yora have nasalized counterparts for each of the vowels, and demonstrate contrastive nasalization.[5]

Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p t k
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ
Fricative β s ʂ ʃ h
Nasal m n
Approximant j w
Flap ɾ

Yawanawá has a similar phonemic inventory to Yaminawa, but uses a voiced bilabial fricative /β/ in place of the voiceless bilabial fricative /ɸ/.[6] Yawanawá and Sharanahua have an additional phoneme, the voiced labio-velar approximant /w/.[6][7] Shanewana has a labiodental fricative /f/ instead of /ɸ/.[8]

Yaminawa has contrastive tone, with two surface tones, high (H) and low (L).[9]


Yaminawa is a polysynthetic, primarily suffixing language that also uses compounding, nasalization, and tone alternations in word-formation. Yaminawa exhibits split ergativity; nouns and third person pronouns pattern along ergative-absolutive lines, while first and second person pronouns pattern along nominative-accusative lines. Yaminawa verbal morphology is extensive, encoding affective (emotional) meanings and categories like associated motion. Yaminawa also has a set of switch reference enclitics that encode same or different subject relationships as well as aspectual relationships between the dependent (marked) clause and the main clause. [9]


  1. ^ Yaminawa at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
    Yawanawá at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
    Sharanawa at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
    Shaninawa at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
    Yora at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Yaminawa Complex". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ David Fleck, 2013, Panoan Languages and Linguistics, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History #99
  4. ^ "Yaminahua." Ethnologue. (retrieved 25 June 2011)
  5. ^ "SAPhon – South American Phonological Inventories". linguistics.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  6. ^ a b "SAPhon – South American Phonological Inventories - Yawanawa". linguistics.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  7. ^ "SAPhon – South American Phonological Inventories - Sharanahua". linguistics.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  8. ^ "SAPhon – South American Phonological Inventories - Shanenawa". linguistics.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  9. ^ a b Faust, Norma and Eugene Loos. (2002). Gramática de la lengua yaminahua. Serie lingüística peruana, no. 51. Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.

External links

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