Mawayana language

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Native to Guyana
Native speakers
2 (2013)[1]
  • North Arawak
    • Rio Branco (Wapishanan)[2]
      • Mawayana
  • Mawakwa?
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
mzx – Mawayana
mpw – Mapidian (duplicate code)[3]
Glottolog mapi1252  Mapidian[4]
mawa1268  Mawakwa[5]

Mawayana (Mahuayana), also known as Mapidian (Maopidyán), is a moribund Arawakan language of Guyana.


Aikhenvald (1999) lists Mawayana (and possibly Mawakwa as a dialect) together with Wapishana under a Rio Branco (North-Arawak) branch of the Arawakan family. Carlin (2006:314) notes that Mawayana "is closely related to Wapishana" and according to Ramirez (2001:530) they share at 47% of their lexicon.


Mawayana has, among its consonants, two implosives, /ɓ/ and /ɗ/, and what has been described as a "retroflex fricativised rhotic", represented with ⟨rž⟩, that it shares with Wapishana. The vowel systems contains four vowels (/i-e, a, ɨ, u-o/), each of which has a nasalised counterpart.[6]


Mawayana has a polysynthetic morphology, mainly head-marking and with suffixes, although there are pronominal prefixes. The verbal arguments are indexed on the verb through subject suffixes on intransitive verbs, while agent prefixes and object suffixes on transitive verbs (Carlin 2006:319).

'I grabbed him.'
'He fell asleep.'
nnu a-na mauɗa chika-dza Mawayana
1PN when-1S die NEG-COMPL mawayana
'When I die there will be no Mawayana left at all.'


  1. ^ Carlin & Mans 2013:79.
  2. ^ Aikhenvald 1999:69.
  3. ^ Hammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Mapidian". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Mawakwa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  6. ^ Carlin (2006:320)


  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (1999). "The Arawak language family". In Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y.; Dixon, R.M.W. The Amazonian languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 65–106. 
  • Carlin, Eithne B (2006). "Feeling the need. The borrowing of Cariban functional categories into Mawayana (Arawak)". In Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y.; Dixon, R.M.W. Grammars in contact: A cross-linguistic typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Carlin, Eithne B (2011). "Nested identities in the Southern Guyana-Surinam corner". In Hornborg, Alf; Hill, Jonathan D. Ethnicity in ancient Amazonia: Reconstructing past identities from archaeology, linguistics, and ethnohistory. University Press of Colorado. pp. 225–236. 
  • Carlin, Eithne B; Boven, Karin (2002). "The native population: Migration and identities". In Carlin, Eithne B.; Arends, Jacques. Atlas of the languages of Suriname. KITLV Press. pp. 11–45. 
  • Carlin, Eithne B; Mans, Jimmy (2013). "Movement through time in the southern Guianas: deconstructing the Amerindian kaleidoscope". In Carlin, Eithne B.; Leglise, Isabelle; Migge, Bettina; et al. In and out of Suriname: Language, mobility, and identity. Caribbean Series. Leiden: Brill. 
  • Ramirez, Henri (2001). Línguas Arawak da Amazônia setentrional (in Portuguese). Manaus: Universidade Federal do Amazonas.