Arawakan Languages

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Arawakan Languages

 

one of the largest families of Indian languages, widespread in the northern part of South America (in the Orinoco, Rio Negro, and Amazon river basins), on the islands of the West Indies, and in southern Florida. There are up to 40 Arawakan languages forming either four or eight large subgroups depending on the system of classification. The most well-known languages are Lokono (Arawak proper), Guajiro, Island Carib, Maipuri, Achagua, Ipuriná, Taino, Piro, Mojo, Paressí. The phonological system of the Arawakan languages is of the so-called Atlantic type: although the vowel system is well-developed (six or seven phonemes), there are relatively few consonants (usually 12—14 phonemes). Their morphological structure is basically agglutinative with some tendencies toward polysynthesism. Suffixation is predominant, but prefixation (possessive prefixation in the noun, subject prefixation in the verb, preverbs, and so forth) also plays a large role. There are both prepositions and postpositions. The pronominal subject often follows the verb, and the demonstrative pronoun follows the word which is modified. There is considerable lexical divergence among the languages. The system of word formation is well developed.

REFERENCES

Alden Mason, J. “The Languages of South American Indians,” in Handbook of South American Indians, vol. 6. Washington, D. C, 1950.
Kingsley Noble, G. Proto-Arawakan and Its Descendants. The Hague, 1965.

G. A. KLIMOV

References in periodicals archive ?
Alexandra Aikhenvald presents her analyses on "Serial Verb Constructions in Tariana", an Arawak language from northwest Amazonia, in Chapter 8 (pp.
On This Beautiful Language is filled with bright and ruddy colored illustrations of native Taino individuals going about day-to-day life, and a final page offers some additional information about the Taino culture, and influences that remain with us today through words like "barbecue", "tobacco", "canoe", and "hammock", all of which are derived from the Arawak language.
The people of the Arawak language family today still comprise one of the more widespread American indigenous cultures, with relatively large kinship nations in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of South America [Barreiro, 1990a].