|Native to||French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela|
|(2,510 cited 1990–2011)|
Arawak (Arowak/Aruák), also known as Lokono (Lokono Dian, literally 'people's talk' by its speakers), is an Arawakan language spoken by the Lokono (Arawak) people of South America in eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. It is the eponymous language of the Arawakan language family.
Lokono is a critically endangered language. The Lokono language is most commonly spoken in South America. Some specific countries where this language is spoken include Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Venezuela. The percentage of living fluent speakers with active knowledge of the language is estimated to be 5% of the ethnic population. There are small communities of semi-speakers who have varying degrees of comprehension and fluency in Lokono that keep the language alive. It is estimated that there are around 2,500 remaining speakers (including fluent and semi-fluent speakers). The decline in the use of Lokono as a language of communication is due to its lack of transmission from older speakers to the next generation. The language is not being passed to young children, as they are taught to speak the official languages of their countries. The oldest generation of speakers are around the age of 70 years of age of older.
The Lokono language is part of the larger Arawakan language family spoken by indigenous people in South and Central America along with the Caribbean. It spans four countries of Central America — Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua — and eight of South America — Bolivia, Guyana, French Guiana, Surinam, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Brazil (and also formerly Argentina and Paraguay). With about 40 extant languages, it is the largest language family in Latin America.
Arawak is a tribal name in reference to the main crop food, the cassava root. It is commonly known as Manioc. The cassava root is a popular staple to millions in South America, Asia and Africa. It is a woody shrub grown in tropical or subtropical regions. The speakers of the Arawak language also identify themselves as, Lokono, which translates to "the people". The Arawak language within itself is known as, Lokono Dian, "the people's speech".
Alternative names of the same language include Arawák, Arahuaco, Aruak, Arowak, Arawac, Araguaco, Aruaqui, Arwuak, Arrowukas, Arahuacos, Locono, and Luccumi.
Lokono is an Arawakan language most commonly found to be spoken in eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. It was also formerly spoken on Caribbean islands such as Barbados and other neighboring countries. There are approximately 2,500 native speakers today. The following are regions where Arawak has been found spoken by native speakers.
William Pet observes an additional /p/ in loanwords.
|Character Used||Additional Usage||IPA symbol||Arawak Pronunciation|
|b||b||Like b in boy.|
|ch||č||t͡ʃ||Like ch in chair.|
|d||d ~ d͡ʒ||Like d in day. Before i the Arawak pronunciation sounds like the j in jeep.|
|f||ɸ||This sound does not exist in English. It is pronounced by narrowing your lips and blowing through them, as if you were playing a flute.|
|h||h||Like h in hay.|
|j||y||j||Like y in yes.|
|k||c, qu||k||Like the soft k sound in English ski.|
|kh||c, qu, k||kh||Like the hard k sound in English key.|
|l||l||Like l in light.|
|lh||r,r||ɽ||No exact equivalent in American English. This is a retroflex r, pronounced with the tongue touching the back of the palate. It is found in Indian-English. Some American English speakers also pronounce this sound in the middle of the word "hurting."|
|m||m||Like m in moon.|
|n||n||Like n in night.|
|p||p||Like the soft p in spin.|
|,||ɾ||Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.|
|s||z, c||s||Like the s in sun.|
|t||t ~ t͡ʃ||Like the soft t in star. Before i the Arawak pronunciation sounds like the ch in cheek.|
|th||t||th ~ t͡ʃʰ||Like the hard t in tar. Before i the Arawak pronunciation sounds like the ch in cheek.|
|w||hu||w||Like w in way.|
|'||ʔ||A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."|
Pet notes that phonetic realization of /o/ varies between [o] and [u].
|Character Used||Additional Usage||IPA Symbol||Arawak Pronunciation|
|a||a||Like the a in father.|
|aa||a·||aː||Like a only held longer.|
|e||e||Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.|
|ee||e·, e:||eː||Like e only held longer.|
|i||i||Like the i in police.|
|ii||i·, i:||iː||Like i only held longer.|
|o||o ~ u||Like o in note or u in flute.|
|oo||o·, o:||oː||Like o only held longer.|
||ɨ||Like the u in upon, only pronounced higher in the mouth.|
||ɨː||Like y only held longer.|
The personal pronouns are shown below. The forms on the left are free forms, which can stand alone. The forms on the right are bound forms (prefixes), which must be attached to the front of a verb, a noun, or a postposition.
|1st person||de, da-||we, wa-|
|2nd person||bi, by-||hi, hy-|
|3rd person||li, ly- (he)
tho, thy- (she)
All verbs are sectioned into transitive, active transitive and stative intransitive.
|Prefixes (A/Sa) and Suffixes (O/So) of Cross-Reference Affixes|
|1||nu- or ta-||wa-||-na, -te||-wa|
|3(non formal)||ri-, i||na-||ri, -i||-na|
|3(formal)||thu-, ru-||na-||-thu,-ru, -u||-na|
A= Sa=cross referencing prefix
O=So= cross referencing suffix
In the Arawak language, there are two distinct genders of masculine and feminine. They are used in cross-referencing affixes, in demonstratives, in nominalization and in personal pronouns. Typical pronominal genders, for example, are feminine and non-feminine. The markers go back to Arawak third-person singular cross-referencing: feminine -(r)u, masculine -(r)i
Arawak Languages do distinguish singular and plural, however plural is optional unless the referent is a person. Markers used are *-na/-ni (animate/human plural) and *-pe (inanimate/animate non-human plural)
Arawak nouns are fragmented into inalienably and alienably possessed. Inalienably crossed nouns include things such as body parts, terms for kinship and common nouns like food selections. Deverbal nominalization belong to that grouping. Both forms of possession are marked with prefixes (A/Sa) . Inalienably possessed nouns have what is known as an "unpossessed" form (also known as 'absolute') marked with the suffix *-tfi or *-hV. Alienably possessed nouns take one of the suffixes *-ne/ni, *-te, *-re, *i/e, or *-na. All suffixes used as nominalizers.
Arawak languages have a negative prefix ma- and attributive-relative prefix ka-. An example of the use is ka-witi-w (a woman with good eyes) and ma-witti-w (a woman with bad eyes aka. blind) .
The Arawak language system has an alphabetical system similar to the Roman Alphabet with some minor changes and new additions to letters. The letters in brackets under each alphabetical letter is the IPA symbol for each letter.
|English||Eastern Arawak (French Guiana)||Western Arawak (Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname)|
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- Pet 2011, p. 2
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- A Brief Introduction to Some Aspects of the Culture and Language of the Guyana Arawak (Lokono) Tribe. Amerindian Languages Project, University of Guyana. 1980.
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- Pet 2011
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- Pet 2011, p. 12
- Rybka, Konrad (2015). "State-of-the-Art in the Development of the Lokono Language". Language Documentation & Conservation. 9: 110–133. hdl:10125/24635.
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