Yanomaman languages

Yanomaman languages

Infobox Language family

Yanomaman (also Yanomam, Yanomáman, Yamomámi, Yanomamana, Shamatari, Shirianan) is a small language family of northwestern Brazil (Roraima, Amazonas) and southern Venezuela.

Family division

Yanomaman consists of 4 languages, very similar with each other, sometimes classified as a dialect continuum:

:# Yaman (a.k.a. Ninam, Yanam-Ninam):# Sanumá (a.k.a. Tsanuma, Sanima):# Yanomámi (a.k.a. Waiká):# Yanomamö (a.k.a. Yanomame, Yanomami)

Sunumá being the most lexically distinct. Yanomamö has the most speakers (17,600) while Yanam has the fewest (560).

Genealogical relations

Yanomamam is usually not connected with any other language family. Joseph Greenberg has suggested a relationship between (his) Chibchan. Migliazza (1985) has suggested a connection with Panoan and Chibchan.


Phonetically, as in most native Brazilian and Amazonian languages, Yanomami have both oral and nasal vowels. There are seven basic vowels: a, e, i, o, u, ɨ (also spelled y), ə. In the Yanam language, u has merged with ɨ.

Yanomaman languages are SOV, suffixing, predominantly head-marking with elements of dependent-marking. Its typology is highly polysynthetic. Adjectival concepts are expressed by means of stative verbs, there are no true adjectives. Adjectival stative verbs follow their noun.

There are five demonstratives which have to be chosen according to distance from speaker and hearer and also according to visibility, a feature shared by many native Brazilian languages such as Tupian ones including Old Tupi. Demonstratives, numerals, classifiers and quantifiers precede the head noun.

There is a distinction between alienable and inalienable possession, again a common areal feature, and a rich system of verbal classifiers, almost a hundred, they are obligatory and appear just before the verb root. The distinction between inclusive and exclusive 1st person plural, a feature shared by most native American languages, has been lost in Yanam and Yanomam dialects, but retained in the others.

Yanomami morphosyntactic alignment is ergative-absolutive, which means that the subject of an intransitive verb is marked the same way as the object of a transitive verb, while the subject of transitive verb is marked differently. The ergative case marker is "-ny". The verb agrees with both subject and object.

Evidentiality on Yanomami dialect is marked on the verb and has four levels: eyewitness, deduced, reported, and assumed. Other dialects have fewer levels.

The object of the verb can be incorporated into it, especially if it not in focus:


kamijə-ny sipara ja-puhi-i1sg-ERG axe 1sg-want-DYNAMIC'I want an/the axe'


kamijə-ny ja-sipara-puhi-i

1sg-ERG 1sg-axe-want-DYN

'I want [it] , the axe'

Relative clauses are formed by adding a relativizing ('REL' below) suffix to the verb:

wãro-n shama shyra-wei ware-ma

man-ERG tapir kill-REL eat-COMPL

'the man who killed the tapir ate it'

Sanuma dialect also has a relative pronoun "ĩ".

ee also

* Yanam language
* Yanomami


* Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. & Dixon R.M.W. (1999) "The Amazonian Languages" Cambridge Language Surveys (p. 341-351)
* Campbell, Lyle. (1997). "American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America". New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
* Greenberg, Joseph H. (1960). General classification of Central and South American languages. In A. Wallace (Ed.), "Men and cultures: Fifth international congress of anthropological and ethnological sciences (1956)" (pp. 791-794). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
* Greenberg, Joseph H. (1987). "Language in the Americas". Stanford: Stanford University Press.
* 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.
* Migliazza, Ernest C. (1985). Languages of the Orinoco-Amazon region: Current status. In H. E. Manelis Klein & L. R. Stark (Eds.), "South American Indian languages: Retrospect and prospect" (pp. 17-139). Austin: University of Texas Press.
* Migliazza, Ernest C.; & Campbell, Lyle. (1988). "Panorama general de las lenguas indígenas en América". Historia general de América (Vol. 10). Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Indigenous languages of the Americas — Yucatec Maya writing in the Dresden Codex, ca. 11–12th century, Chichen Itza Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which… …   Wikipedia

  • Indo-European languages — Indo European redirects here. For other uses, see Indo European (disambiguation). See also: List of Indo European languages Indo European Geographic distribution: Before the 16th century, Europe, and South, Central and Southwest Asia; today… …   Wikipedia

  • Mayan languages — Maya language redirects here. For other uses, see Maya language (disambiguation). Mayan Geographic distribution: Mesoamerica: Southern Mexico; …   Wikipedia

  • Oto-Manguean languages — Oto Manguean Geographic distribution: Currently Mexico; previously Mesoamerica and Central America Linguistic classification: Not positively related to any other language families. Subdivisions: Oto Pamean Chinantecan Tl …   Wikipedia

  • Austro-Asiatic languages — Austro Asiatic Mon–Khmer Geographic distribution: South and Southeast Asia Linguistic classification: One of the world s major language families Proto language: Proto Mon–Khmer …   Wikipedia

  • Dravidian languages — For other uses, see Dravidian (disambiguation). Dravidian Geographic distribution: South Asia Linguistic classification: Dravidian Proto language: Proto Dravidian Subdivisions: Northern Cen …   Wikipedia

  • Sino-Tibetan languages — Sino Tibetan Geographic distribution: East Asia Linguistic classification: One of the world s major language families. Subdivisions: Sinitic Tibeto Burman ISO 639 …   Wikipedia

  • Uto-Aztecan languages — Uto Aztecan Geographic distribution: Western United States, Mexico Linguistic classification: Uto Aztecan Proto language: Proto Uto Aztecan Subdivisions: Hopi …   Wikipedia

  • Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas — This article is a list of different language classification proposals developed for indigenous languages of the Americas. The article is divided into North, Central, and South America sections; however, the classifications do not always neatly… …   Wikipedia

  • Niger–Congo languages — Niger–Congo Niger–Kordofanian (obsolete) Geographic distribution: Sub Saharan Africa Linguistic classification: one of the world s primary language families Subdivisions: Dogon …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”