Fulniô language Redirected from Yaté language

Native toBrazil
RegionÁguas Belas, Pernambuco
Native speakers
1,000 (2011)[1]
  • Yatê-Fulniô
  • Fulniô
  • Yatê
Language codes
ISO 639-3fun
Yate-Fulnio language.png
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Fulniô, or Yatê, is a language isolate of Brazil, and the only indigenous language remaining in the northeastern part of that country. The two dialects, Fulniô and Yatê, are very close. The Fulniô dialect is used primarily during a three-month religious retreat. Today, the language is spoken in Águas Belas, Pernambuco.[2]

The language is also called Carnijó, and alternate spellings are Fornió, Furniô, Yahthe, and Iatê.


Kaufman (1990) classified Fulniô as one of the Macro-Gê languages. However, Eduardo Ribeiro of the University of Chicago, who is working on large-scale classification of Brazilian languages, finds no evidence to support this, and treats it as an isolate. Jolkesky (2016) again has it as Macro-Je, but Nikulin (2020) again excludes it.


Fulniô has the following sounds:


/p pʰ d t tʰ k kʰ/. /pʰ/ is rare.
/ts tsʰ dʒ tʃ tʃʰ/
/f z s ʃ h/
/m n/
/l j w/
  • A glottal stop [ʔ] occurs, but is considered epenthetic.
  • /n/ can be heard as a velar nasal [ŋ] before a velar stop.
  • /l/ can be heard as a palatal lateral [ʎ] before a post-alveolar affricate, and can be heard as an alveolar lateral flap [ɺ] when following fricatives, nasals or stops.


/i ɪ æ e a ɔ o u/
  • /a/ can be heard as a nasalized sound [ə̃] when preceding a nasal consonant in closed syllables, or word-finally after a nasal consonant.

There are few contrasts between /o/ and /u/, suggesting /u/ is a recent addition, perhaps from Portuguese.

All seven have nasalized and glottalized allophones, depending on adjacent consonants. Vowels occur long and short. However, long vowels result from assimilation of /h/, are pronounced [Vh] in one dialect, and so are analyzed as /Vh/ sequences.

Tones are high and low. Contour tones occur allophonically adjacent to voiced consonants. Final syllables tend to lack a tone contrast, and final vowels may be devoiced or dropped.

There are no vowel sequences; vowels either coalesce or are separated by a glottal stop. Consonant clusters are limited to two consonants, apart from a possible additional /j w/, with the maximum syllable being CCCVC; reduced vowels between consonants are analyzed as /j w/ by Meland & Meland: /tfàltʰùlkja/ 'crossing over', /kwlèlja/ 'rotten'.


Loukotka (1968)

Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items.[3]

gloss Fulnio
head i-tká
eye itó
tooth dzyashi
foot ishiri
water oya
fire toːwẽ
star tiúyá
maize malchi
jaguar kléken
black chichiá

Nikulin (2020)

Some Yaathê words given by Nikulin (2020),[4]:69–70 cited from Lapenda (1965,[5] 2005 [1968][6]), Barbosa (1991),[7] Costa (1999),[8] F. Silva (2011a,[9] 2011b[10]), and Branner (1887).[11]

Portuguese gloss
English gloss
cinza ashes fêlôwa
foot fêhê
folha leaf ta(-)cʰa
fígado liver ta(-)cô
dente tooth ta(-)xi
cabelo hair li
água water ôːja
língua tongue kts(ʰ)ale
boca mouth ta(-)tʰê
nariz nose kʰletʰa
olho eye tʰô
orelha ear kfakê
cabeça head tkʰa
fogo fire tôwê
árvore tree cʰleka
semente seed kêtʰôja
ouvir hear kfala-
dormir sleep kfafa-
terra earth fê(j)ʔa
piolho louse cfôwa
pedra stone fô(ʔ)a
chuva rain flicja
mão hand koho ~ kʰoja (?)
caminho road tdi
dar give kô-
estar sentado be seated kine-
estar deitado lying down kʰa-
ir go o-, no-
rabo tail ta(-)tô
carne meat ucʰi ~ utxi
nome name ketkʲa
unha nail (finger) kʰôtkʲa



  1. ^ Yatê-Fulniô at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Ethnologue
  3. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.
  4. ^ Nikulin, Andrey. 2020. Proto-Macro-Jê: um estudo reconstrutivo. Tese de Doutorado em Linguística, Universidade de Brasília.
  5. ^ Lapenda, G. C. Perfil da lingua yathê. Arquivos, Recife, v. 21/47, p. 54–72, 1965.
  6. ^ Lapenda, G. C. Estrutura da língua Iatê, falada pelos índios Fulniôs em Pernambuco. 2ª ed. Recife: Editora Universitária UFPE, 2005 [1968]. 277 pp.
  7. ^ Barbosa, E. A. Aspectos fonológicos da língua Yatê. 1991. 55 pp. Dissertação (Mestrado em Linguística) – Departamento de Lingüística, Línguas Clássicas e Vernácula, Instituto de Letras, Universidade de Brasília. 1991.
  8. ^ Costa, J. F. da. Yaːthê, a última língua nativa no Nordeste do Brasil: aspectos morfo-fonológicos e morfo-sintáticos. 1999. 365 pp. Tese (Doutorado em Linguística) – Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. 1999.
  9. ^ Silva, F. P. da. A sílaba em Yaathe. Dissertação (Mestrado em Linguística) – Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal de Alagoas, 2011a. 133 pp.
  10. ^ Silva, F. P. da. Descrição da estrutura silábica do Yaathe, uma língua indígena brasileira. In: Anais do VII Congresso Internacional da Abralin. Curitiba: s./ed., 2011b. p. 1378–1389.
  11. ^ Branner, J. C. Os Carnijós de Aguas Bellas [Notas sobre uma língua indigena brasilieira]. Revista do Instituto Historico e Geographico Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro, v. 94, n. 148, p. 359–365, 1929.

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