Munduruku language

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Ethnicity10,100 Munduruku (2002)[1]
Native speakers
7,500 (2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3myu
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Mundurukú is a Tupi language spoken by 10,000 people in the Tapajós River basin in north central Brazil, of which most of the women and children are monolingual.

Gomes (2006) points out that "Mundurukú is one of the languages of the Tupí trunk and constitutes, together with Kuruáya, the Mundurukú linguistic family [...] It is evident the progress of the Portuguese language among the indigenous people. The situation of the Mundurukú who live in the area of the Madeira River and in the outskirts of the towns bathed by the Tapajós is of loss of the indigenous language, but that is not the main situation, since the language of the children of the majority of the population is the Mundurukú, and bilingualism only takes place after being guaranteed the use of Mundurukú (around 10 years of age), especially as a result of the Portuguese learning in school. Those who live in the villages of the Tapajós River valley speak only in Mundurukú even in the presence of non-indigenous people. There are elementary schools located in almost all villages, and courses promoted by the Brazilian government have given education to the indigenous, who are starting to take control of their own formal education."[3]


Phoneme inventory[edit]


  • Voiceless stops /p, t, tʃ, k, ʔ/
  • Voiced stops /b, dʒ/
  • Flap /ɾ/
  • Voiceless fricatives /s, ʃ, h/
  • Nasals /m, n, ŋ/
  • Semi-vowels /w, j/


  • High vowels: /ɨ, ɨ̃, i, ĩ, u, ũ /
  • High-mid vowels: /e, ẽ/
  • Mid vowels /ə̃, ə/
  • Low vowels /ã, a/

Syllable structure[edit]

The syllable in Munduruku is made up of an obligatory vocalic nucleus and one of four phonemic accents (three of pitch and one of laryngealization). It may also have an onset or coda. No consonant clusters are permitted. Thus, the permissible syllables are CV, CVC, V, and VC (with V being the most rare).


The onset in this language may be any one of the 16 consonant phonemes which contrast as to the manner and point of articulation: (1) voiceless stops /p, t, k, tʃ, k, ʔ/; (2) Voiced stops /b, /; (3) Fricatives /s, ʃ, h/, (4) nasals /m, n, ŋ/, (5) Sonorants /w, y, r/


The only segment not allowed in the coda is /tʃ/. Observe that CVj and CVw are considered CVC syllables, and not CV.V ones for a variety of reasons; one is that it would require positing a new syllable pattern limited to CVu and CVi with no other vowels occurring in coda position. There is also phonetic contrast between /i, u/ as vowel nuclei and /y, w/ as codas. The former being distinctly vocalic and the latter consonantal.[4]


The syllabic nucleus is limited to only one vowel.


Accent is considered a feature of the entire syllable rather than of the nucleus only. One accent occurs with each syllable. Note that the functional load of accent is light—only some 40 lexical pairs with contrastive accents have been found and few grammatical contrasts are marked by accent alone.[5]


Munduruku is an OV language.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Munduruku at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mundurukú". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ GOMES, Dioney. "Morphological and syntactic study of the mundurukú language (tupí)" (PDF). Repositório UnB (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ Braun, Ilse; Marjorie Crofts. "Mundruku phonology". Anthropological Linguistics. 7 (7): 25. JSTOR 30013071.
  5. ^ Braun, Ilse; Marjorie Crofts. "Mundruku phonology". Anthropological Linguistics. 7 (7): 27. JSTOR 30013071.

External links[edit]

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