Zaparoan Languages

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zaparoan Languages


a family of languages spoken by Indians living in eastern Ecuador and northwestern Peru, between the Napo, Bobonaza, and Pastaza rivers. The Zaparoan languages include the languages of the Caingang subgroup (Caingang, Oa), the Andoan languages (Andoa, Ge [Siaviri], Simigae, Iquito), and the Zaparo language.

Zaparo has a simple sound system, consisting of six vowels and 15 consonants with no voiced-voiceless opposition. Syllables in the Zaparoan languages end in a vowel, y, or w. The noun has possessive personal prefixes, such as č a- (“your” [singular]). Polyfunctional suffixes attached to nouns distinguish number, “person” and “nonperson” categories, and sometimes masculine and feminine gender. The verb has aspectual-temporal suffixes. There is a well-developed system of emphatic, interrogative, and other enclitic particles. Word order is rigid, either subject-verb-object or predicative-copula-subject. Lexical parallels argue for a genetic relationship between the Zaparoan languages and Miranya, the Witotoan languages, and the Tupi-Guaranian languages.


Sargent, M. Vocabulario Záparo: Estudios acerca de las lenguas Huarani (Auca), Shimigaey Záparo. Quito, 1959.
Studies in Ecuadorian Indian Languages, vol. 1. Oklahoma City, Okla., 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.