Mawayana language

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Native to Guyana
Native speakers
2  (2013)[1]
  • North Arawak
    • Rio Branco[2]
      • Mawayana
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mzx
Glottolog (insufficiently attested or not a distinct language)

Mawayana (Mahuayana) is an Arawakan language of Guyana.


Aikhenvald (1999) lists Mawayana (with the alternate name of Mapidian and possibly Mawakwa) together with Wapishana under a Rio Branco group (North-Arawak). Hicks (2002), instead, reports that it has no "semantic" similarity with Mapidian or the other Wapishanan languages.[4] Carlin (2006:314), however, states that Mawayana "is closely related to Wapishana."


According to Carlin (2006:320), Mawayana has, among its consonants, two implosive consonants /ɓ/ and /ɗ/ and what has been described as a "retroflex fricativised rhotic", represented with . The vowel systems contains four vowels (/i-e, a, ɨ, u-o/), each of which has a nasalised counterpart.


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. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mawayana". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ Mawayana at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)


  • 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.