Panoan languages

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southwestern Amazon
Linguistic classification: Pano–Tacanan?
  • Pánoan
Glottolog: pano1256[1]
Panoan languages (dark green) and Takanan languages (light green). Spots indicate documented locations.

Panoan (also Pánoan, Panoano, Panoana, Páno) is a family of languages spoken in Peru, western Brazil, and Bolivia. It is a branch of the larger Pano–Tacanan family.


There are some 18 extant and 14 extinct Panoan languages.[2] In the list, (†) means extinct, and (*) obsolescent (no longer spoken daily). Dialects are listed in parentheses.

Boundaries between the Poyanawa, Chama, and Headwaters groups are somewhat blurred. Karipuna and Môa River Nawa may not be distinct languages, and Chiriba may not be Panoan at all.

Hundreds of other Panoan "languages" (such as Kontanawa)[3] have been reported in the literature. These are names of groups that may have been ethnically Panoan, but sometimes are assumed to be Panoan on no other evidence than that they end in -nawa or -bo. A few, such as Maya (Pisabo), are unattested but reported to be mutually intelligible with a known Panoan language (in this case Matsés).[citation needed]


Much of the confusion surrounding Panoan languages is the number of homonyms among different languages. The principal ambiguous names are as follows:[2]

Panoan languages with the same name
Name Location or other name Language
Kapanawa on the Tapiche dialect of Shipibo-Konibo
on the Juruá dialect of Ibuaçu Kashinawa
Kashinawa on the Ibuaçu Headwaters group
on the Tarauacá Mainline branch
Kulina on the Curuçá Mayoruna branch
of São Paulo de Olivençá Mainline branch
Marubo in the Javari Basin Mainline branch
of Maucallacta [no data] Mayoruna branch
Remo on the Blanco Nawa group
on the Môa Headwaters group
on the Jaquirana Poyanawa group
Southern Remo [no data] Chama group
Sinabo of the Mamoré Bolivian group
of the Ucayali Basin Chama group
Katukina Waninawa Marubo group
of Feijo' (Shanenawa) dialect of Yaminawa
Nawa on the Môa [little data] Poyanawa group
Parkenawa dialect of Yaminawa
Maroyuna (various) three languages in list above
Mates Mates
Barbudo [no data] Chama group
Demushbo Matses group
Chema dialect of Curuçá Kulina

Neighboring languages of other families may also share the names of Panoan language. The table below ignores other homonyms further afield:

Non-Panoan languages with the same names as Panoan languages
Family Language
Arawakan Kanamari, Kasharari, Kunibo, Mayoruna, Pakaguara
Takanan Chama, Arasa, Atsahuaca, Yamiaka
Katukinan Katukina, Kanamari
Tupian Karipuna, Katukinarú
Arawan Kulina, Arawá
Harakmbut Arasairi

Genetic relations[edit]

The Panoan family is generally believed to be related to the Tacanan family, forming with it Pano–Tacanan, though this has not yet been established (Loos 1999).


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pánoan". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ a b David Fleck, 2013, Panoan Languages and Linguistics, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History #99
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kontanawa". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

External links[edit]


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • 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.; & Campbell, Lyle. (1988). "Panorama general de las lenguas indígenas en América". Historia general de América (Vol. 10). Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia.
  • Shell, Olive A. (1975). "Las lenguas pano y su reconstrucción". Serie lingüística Peruana (No. 12). Yarinacocha, Peru: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
  • Rodrigues, Aryon. (1986). Linguas brasileiras: Para o conhecimento das linguas indígenas. São Paulo: Edições Loyola.