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 ?
Her dissertation was a monumental grammar of the Arawakan language Asheninka Perene, published in 2015 by Mouton de Gruyter.
Thomason & Kaufmann 1988), such as documented extensively for the Vaupes area at the Colombian/Brazilian border (Aikhenvald 2002), including the spread of a SwAt system from Tucanoan languages to the Arawakan language Tariana.
The prevalence of C amongst the Wayuu may also support the notion that they share genetic affinity with other indigenous groups from the Amazonian region, where haplogroup C likewise predominates and in (or near) which the Arawakan languages are thought to have originated (Aikhenvald 1999, 2006; Walker & Ribeiro 2011).
frequent use of topicalizers, serialization, copular constructions, and TMA system)--to similar linguistic features in North Arawakan languages.
Arawakan languages continued to spread southward along the Purus and Madeira rivers to the lowlands of Peru and Bolivia where Arawak-speaking groups with their characteristic cultural emphasis on river navigation, trade and agriculture established themselves as middlemen in the trade between the lowlands and the Andean highlands.