Apiaká language

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Native toBrazil
Regionnorthern Mato Grosso, upper Rio Tapajos
Ethnicityone thousand Apiacá
Extinct10 April 2011, when Pedrinho Kamassuri died
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
api – Apiacá
wir – Wiraféd

Apiaká is a recently extinct Tupi language of the Apiacá people of the upper Rio Tapajos area of Mato Grosso, Brazil. It has been supplanted by Portuguese.


The Apiaká language belongs to subgroup VI of the Tupi-Guarani languages. It is very close to Kagwahiva and may be a dialect of that language.[2]


After coming into contact with the Neo-Brazilians, the Apiaca language changed with combined elements of the Lingua Geral, A Tupi-based trade jargon. Today, Portuguese or Munduruku are more widely spoken as opposed to the Apiaca language, though these people have always been known by the name "Apiaca." [3]

All the Apiacá speak Portuguese and those married to members of the Munduruku and Kaiabi tribes speak their spouse's language fluently or have the ability to understand them fully. Although the Munduruku and Kaiabi languages and idioms are spoken on a day-to-day basis in the Apiaca villages, they are, however, limited to domestic spaces and informal conversations. The language used in formal conversations is Portuguese, due to contact with the Neo-Brazilians and Portuguese settlers. Although they cannot impose their own language on the co-resident Munduruku and Kaiabi people, due to such a small number of them who actually speak the Apiaca language, the Apiaca manage to impede the languages of these peoples from becoming the official languages in their villages. This allows Portuguese to function as an instrument of resistance employed by the Apiaca to prevent their cultural absorption by the Munduruku and Kaiabi tribes.[4]

Despite the linguistic proximity, the Apiaká do not allow Kaiabi to be taught in their villages' schools, this stems from historically bad relations with this tribe, however, due to the better relationship the Apiaca have with the Munduruku people, they permit Munduruku teachers to give lessons in their own language. For many years the Apiaca have been attempting to revive their language through the schools in their villages but have so far been unsuccessful. In recent years there has been an initiative to create a book known as the "Apiaca Word" in order to catalog the language.[4]


The last fluent heritage speaker of Apiaká, Pedrinho Kamassuri, died in hospital in Juara, Mato Grosso, on April 10, 2011.[5] It is unknown how many partial speakers still live as of 2018.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Apiaká". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices
  3. ^ Dictionary of Indian Tribes of the Americas (2 ed.). Newport Beach, California: American Indian Publishers Incorporated. 1993. ISBN 0937862282.
  4. ^ a b Tempesta, Giovana Acácia. "Apiaka". Povos Indigenas no Brasil. Fany Pantaleoni Ricardo. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Notícias". Projeto de Documentação de Línguas Indígenas. Retrieved 21 February 2018.

External links[edit]

  • Lev, Michael; Stark, Tammy; Chang, Will (2012). "Phonological inventory of Apiaká". The South American Phonological Inventory Database (version 1.1.3 ed.). Berkeley: University of California: Survey of California and Other Indian Languages Digital Resource.