Tucanoan Languages


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Tucanoan Languages

 

a family of American Indian languages spoken by tribes inhabiting three regions of South America: (1) in the Uaupés, Tiquié, Apáporis, Miriti Paraná, and Ja-purá river basins in southeastern Colombia and northwestern Brazil; (2) in northeastern Peru (Loreto Department), northeastern Ecuador (Napo and Pastaza provinces), and southern Colombia (Caquetáa Department and neighboring regions); (3) at the source of the Manacacias River (Meta Department in central Colombia).

According to the preliminary classification of the Spanish scholar A. Tovar Llórente, the Tucanoan language family is subdivided into a number of branches. In the first of the areas mentioned above, the Tucanoan languages are represented by the Tucano-Tuyuka languages (Tucano, Tuyuka, Bara, Piratapuyo, Karapana [Carapaná], and others), the Desana languages (Desana and Coretu), the Kubeo (Cubeo) language, and the Buha-gana and Yahuna languages. The Choquesiona languages (Siona, Coto, Icaguahe, and several extinct languages) and the Piojé-Siona languages are found in the second area, and the Tama language in the third zone.

The Tucanoan languages have been poorly described. Judging from a description of the Siona language, grammatical meanings are expressed by agglutinated suffixes, animate and inanimate nouns have a clear morphological opposition, and masculine and feminine gender categories exist. In the Uaupés and Tiquié river basins, each of the Tucano-Tuyuka and Desana languages (and also the local Arawakan and Cariban languages) is assigned to a separate exogamous marriage class and serves as a distinctive feature of this class. Tucano is used as a lingua franca in the northwestern part of the Amazon basin.

REFERENCES

Elson, B. F. Studies in Ecuadorian Indian Languages, 1. Norman, Okla., 1962.
Giacone, A. Gramática, dicionários e fraseología da lingua Dahceié ou Tucano. Belém, 1965.
Jackson, J. “Language Identity of the Colombian Vaupés Indians.” In Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking. Cambridge, Mass., 1974.
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