Shipibo language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Native toPeru
RegionUcayali Region
EthnicityShipibo-Conibo people
Native speakers
26,000 (2003)[1]
  • Mainline Panoan
    • Nawa
      • Chama
        • Shipibo-Conibo
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
shp – Shipibo-Conibo
kaq – Tapiche Capanahua

Shipibo (also Shipibo-Conibo, Shipibo-Konibo) is a Panoan language spoken in Peru and Brazil by approximately 26,000 speakers. Shipibo is a recognized indigenous language of Peru.


A Shipibo jar

Shipibo has three attested dialects:

  • Shipibo and Konibo (Conibo), which have merged
  • Kapanawa of the Tapiche River,[2] which is obsolescent

Extinct Xipináwa (Shipinawa) is thought to have been a dialect as well,[3] but there is no linguistic data.



Monophthongs of Shipibo, from Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001:282)
Monophthong phonemes[4]
Front Central Back
Close i ĩ ⟨i⟩ ɯ ɯ̃ ⟨e⟩
Mid o õ ⟨o⟩
Open a ã ⟨a⟩
  • /i/ and /o/ are lower than their cardinal counterparts (in addition to being more front in the latter case): [], [], /ɯ/ is more front than cardinal [ɯ]: [ɯ̟], whereas /a/ is more close and more central [ɐ] than cardinal [a]. The first three vowels tend to be somewhat more central in closed syllables, whereas /ɯ/ before coronal consonants (especially /n, t, s/) can be as central as [ɨ].[5]
  • In connected speech, two adjacent vowels may be realized as a rising diphthong.[6]


  • The oral vowels /i, ɯ, o, a/ are phonetically nasalized [ĩ, ɯ̃, õ, ã] after a nasal consonant, but the phonological behaviour of these allophones is different from the nasal vowel phonemes /ĩ, ɯ̃, õ, ã/.[4]
  • Oral vowels in syllables preceding syllables with nasal vowels are realized as nasal, but not when a consonant other than /w, j/ intervenes.[6]


  • The second one of the two adjacent unstressed vowels is often deleted.[6]
  • Unstressed vowels may be devoiced or even elided between two voiceless obstruents.[6]


Consonant phonemes[7]
Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palato-
Dorsal Glottal
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩
Plosive p ⟨p⟩ t ⟨t⟩ k ⟨c/qu⟩
Affricate ts ⟨ts⟩ ⟨ch⟩
Fricative voiceless s ⟨s⟩ ʂ ⟨s̈h⟩ ʃ ⟨sh⟩ h ⟨j⟩
voiced β ⟨b⟩
Approximant w ⟨hu⟩ ɻ ⟨r⟩ j ⟨y⟩
  • /m, p, β/ are bilabial, whereas /w/ is labialized velar.
    • /β/ is most typically a fricative [β], but other realizations (such as an approximant [β̞], a stop [b] and an affricate []) also appear. The stop realization is most likely to appear in word-initial stressed syllables, whereas the approximant realization appears most often as onsets to non-initial unstressed syllables.[4]
  • /n, ts, s/ are alveolar [n, ts, s], whereas /t/ is dental [].[7]
  • The /ʂ–ʃ/ distinction can be described as an apical–laminal one.[4]
  • /k/ is velar, whereas /j/ is palatal.[7]
  • Before nasal vowels, /w, j/ are nasalized [, ] and may be even realized close to nasal stops [ŋʷ, ɲ].[6]
  • /w/ is realized as [w] before /a, ã/, as [ɥ] before /i, ĩ/ and as [ɰ] before /ɯ, ɯ̃/. It does not occur before /o, õ/.[6]
  • /ɻ/ is a very variable sound:
    • Intervocalically, it is realized either as continuant, with or without weak frication ([ɻ] or [ʐ]).[4]
    • Sometimes (especially in the beginning of a stressed syllable) it can be realized as a postalveolar affricate [d̠͡z̠], or a stop-approximant sequence [d̠ɹ̠].[6]
    • It can also be realized as a postalveolar flap [ɾ̠].[4]


  1. ^ Shipibo-Conibo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Tapiche Capanahua at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Fleck (2013), p. 18.
  3. ^ Fleck (2013), p. 14.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 282.
  5. ^ Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), pp. 282–283.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 283.
  7. ^ a b c Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 281.


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Elias-Ulloa, Jose (2000). El Acento en Shipibo (Stress in Shipibo). Thesis. Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima - Peru.
  • Elias-Ulloa, Jose (2005). Theoretical Aspects of Panoan Metrical Phonology: Disyllabic Footing and Contextual Syllable Weight. Ph.D. Dissertation. Rutgers University. ROA 804 [1].
  • Fleck, David W. (10 October 2013). "Panoan Languages and Linguistics" (PDF). Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History (99). ISSN 0065-9452.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.
  • Loriot, James and Barbara E. Hollenbach. 1970. "Shipibo paragraph structure." Foundations of Language 6: 43–66. (This was the seminal Discourse Analysis paper taught at SIL in 1956–7.)
  • Loriot, James, Erwin Lauriault, and Dwight Day, compilers. 1993. Diccionario shipibo - castellano. Serie Lingüística Peruana, 31. Lima: Ministerio de Educación and Instituto Lingüístico de Verano. 554 p. (Spanish zip-file available online This has a complete grammar published in English by SIL only available through SIL.
  • Valenzuela, Pilar M.; Márquez Pinedo, Luis; Maddieson, Ian (2001), "Shipibo", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 31 (2): 281–285, doi:10.1017/S0025100301002109

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