Shuar language

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Shiwar chicham
Native toEcuador
Native speakers
35,000 (2007)[1]
  • Shuar
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3jiv

Shuar, which literally means "people", also known by such (now derogatory) terms as Chiwaro, Jibaro, Jivaro, or Xivaro, is an indigenous language spoken by the Shuar people of Morona Santiago Province and Pastaza Province in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin.


Twelve Indigenous languages of Ecuador are spoken today, one of which is Shuar.[2] For the past four decades, the Shuar language has been noted for its link with several political groups.

The name “Shuar” shared among the people and their language was first revealed to the Spaniards in the 17th century. The Shuar language, as it stands today, is considered part of the Jivaroan language tree, and embodies one of the most well-known tribal groups in the Amazonian jungle region.[3]

Radio schools[edit]

The geographical remoteness within the Ecuadorian rainforest isolates the Shuar and has widely scattered the people from one another. As a result, in the late 1960s, radio schools were formed to promote communication and education in both Spanish and Shuar.[2] This inadvertently transformed into a language revitalization initiative for the Shuar people. Radio schools were shut down in 2001 and replaced with formal bilingual in-class teaching.[2]



Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p t k
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ
Fricative s ʃ h
Trill r
Semivowel w j


Front Central Back
Close i   ĩ ɨ   ɨ̃ u   ũ
Open a   ã


The Constitution of Ecuador has been translated in its entirety into the Shuar language. Its official name in Shuar is Ecuador Nunka Umíktin Umpuarma.[4]

Sample text[edit]

The following text is an official translation of part of Article 2 of the Constitution of Ecuador which stipulates the language policy of the State.[4]

Akánu 2.- ... Ecuador nunkanmanka apach chicham máshi chicháji; apach chicham, kichwa chicham, nuyá shuar chicham másh chichaktiniaiti anturnaikiatai tusar. Chíkich Tarimiat aents chichamen chichainia nuka núumtak nii nunkénink, chichasartatui, umiktin tana nuna umiak, chicham menkakaink tusa ii nunké arantuk, chichaktinian émtikiattui.

Translation in English: "Article 2.- ... Spanish is Ecuador's official language; Spanish, Kichwa and Shuar are official languages for intercultural ties. The other ancestral languages are in official use by indigenous peoples in the areas where they live and in accordance with the terms set forth by law. The State shall respect and encourage their preservation and use."


  1. ^ Shuar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c Grenoble, Lenore A (2006). Saving Languages: An introduction to language revitilization. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 78–83. ISBN 978-0-521-81621-2.
  3. ^ Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO). "The Shuar, a Forgotten Indigenous Community in Ecuador". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)[1]
  4. ^ a b "Constitución de la República del Ecuador en Shuar". issuu. 27 June 2011.
  • Turner, Glen D. (1958): "Alternative phonemicizing in Jivaro", in International Journal of American Linguistics 24, 2, pp. 87–94.

External links[edit]