Zamucoan languages

Paraguay and Bolivia
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families

Zamucoan (also Samúkoan) is a small language family of Paraguay (northeast Chaco) and Bolivia (Santa Cruz Department).

The family has hardly been studied by linguists (as of Adelaar & Muysken 2004), although several studies have recently appeared (see: Bertinetto 2009, 2010, 2013; Ciucci 2007/08, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2013a, 2013b). Recent studies show that the Zamucoan languages are characterized by a rare syntactic configuration which is called para-hypotaxis, where coordination and subordination are used simultaneously to connect clauses (Bertinetto & Ciucci 2012).

Extant languages

Zamucoan consists of two living languages:

  • Ayoreo (also known as Zamuco, Ayoré, Moro, Ayoréo, Ayoweo, Samuko, Morotoco, Pyeta, Yovai) – 3,160 speakers
  • Chamacoco (also known as Bahía Negra, Ebidoso, Tumarahá, Chamakoko, Ebitoso, Ishiro, Jeywo) – 2,000 speakers

Genetic relations

From the historical record of the Zamucoan peoples, the living Zamucoan languages appear to have had several relatives, now extinct. It is not clear if these were necessarily distinct languages, or even that they were Zamucoan, but Mason (1950)[1] listed them as follows:[2]

  • Northern
    • Zamuco (Ayoreo): Zamuco (Samuca); Satienyo (Zatieño, Ibiraya)
    • Morotoco (Coroino)
      • Cucarate (Kukutade)
      • Orebate (Ororebate); Carerá
      • Panono (Panana)
      • Tomoeno
    • Guarañoca [possibly a dialect of Ayoreo]: Tsiracua (Empelota); Mora (remnants of Morotoco and Guarañoca)
    • Ugaraño
    • Tapii (Tapio)
    • Poturero (Ninaquiguilá)
  • Southern
    • Chamacoco (Tumanahá, Timinihá): Ebidoso, Horio (Ishira), Tumerehã
    • Imono
    • Tunacho (Tunaca)
    • Caipotorade


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for Zamucoan language varieties.[3]

gloss Zamuco Ayoré Guarañoca Poturero Morotoco Siracua Chamacoco Ebidoso Tumrahá
one chomara choxmára chumana chumana sumara somraha tohok tonhok
two gar gáre gar ogar gapebe osia eshara osia
three gadiok gadok adiska oagadioka gaedopebe aorliet pelpe ahriet-tohok
head ya-toitak ya-toi ya-toita ya-todo ya-tod hoté hote ho
eye ye-doi yeː-do ye-dodia ye-doy ye-do dlyóki-dodye as-lo erupi ulu
ear ya-gorone yã-gorone ya-noenia ya-goroné ya-gorod dlyóki-goroni parhi áhre ahri
tongue ya-retia ya-reta ya-retia ya-et árhik orahü kéhrik
water yod yot yodita yod yod nio niogo niodat
fire piok piok piok piok pioko pió erhü erhúe naúsere
stone kukarat kukarat kukanane kukaranay kukarad kukáni kukret' ostrp kukáni
sun giede guéde guede hiédé giede géte deit'y dei yite
maize guehena gueːxnai guexa guehena gueda géshna taguri takurü taugre


  1. ^ Mason, John Alden (1950). "The languages of South America". In Steward, Julian (ed.). Handbook of South American Indians. 6. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143. pp. 157–317.
  2. ^ Fabre 2007:3–5
  3. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.


  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bertinetto, Pier Marco (2009). Ayoreo (Zamuco). A grammatical sketch. Quaderni del laboratorio di Linguistica 8 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL09.htm>).
  • Bertinetto, Pier Marco (2010). How the Zamuco languages dealt with verb affixes. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica 9,1 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL10.htm>).
  • Bertinetto, Pier Marco (2013). Ayoreo (Zamuco) as a radical tenseless language. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica 12 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL13.htm>)
  • Bertinetto, Pier Marco & Luca Ciucci 2012. Parataxis, Hypotaxis and Para-Hypotaxis in the Zamucoan Languages. In: Linguistic Discovery 10.1: 89-111.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Ciucci, Luca (2007/08). Indagini sulla morfologia verbale nella lingua ayoreo. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica della Scuola Normale Superiore 7 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL07_08.htm>)
  • Ciucci, Luca (2009). Elementi di morfologia verbale del chamacoco. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica della Scuola Normale Superiore 8 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL09.htm>)
  • Ciucci, Luca (2010a). La flessione possessiva dell’ayoreo. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica della Scuola Normale Superiore 9,2 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL10.htm>)
  • Ciucci, Luca (2010b). La flessione possessiva del chamacoco. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica della Scuola Normale Superiore 9,2 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL10.htm>)
  • Ciucci, Luca (2013a). Inflectional morphology in the Zamucoan languages. Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Ph.D. Thesis.
  • Ciucci, Luca (2013b). Chamacoco lexicographical supplement. Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica della Scuola Normale Superiore 12 n.s. (Online version: <http://linguistica.sns.it/QLL/QLL13.htm>)
  • Fabre, Alain. (por aparecer, 2005). Los pueblos del Gran Chaco y sus lenguas, cuarta parte: Los zamuco. Suplemento Antropológico, Asunción.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ulrich, M.; Ulrich, R. (2000). Diccionario Ishi̵ro (Chamacoco) - Español, Español - Ishi̵ro (Chamacoco). Asuncion: Misión a Nuevas Tribus Paraguay.

External links

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