Shuar language

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Šiwar čičam
Native to Ecuador
Ethnicity Shuar
Native speakers
35,000 (2007)[1]
  • Shuar
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jiv
Glottolog shua1257[2]

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


Twelve Indigenous languages of Ecuador are spoken today, one of which is Shuar.[3] For the past four decades, the Shuar language has been noted for its link with several political groups.

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.[3] 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.[3]

The role of the church[edit]

The radio schools were not funded by the national government. Instead, they were financially supported by Catholic missionaries who were welcomed into Shuar-speaking areas during the 1920s. Before this, they were widely resisted. However, because of the increase in trade, loss of land, and the vitality and perceived modernity of Spanish,[3] the Shuar leaned on the church for comfort.



Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive p t t͡ʃ k
Fricative s ʃ x~h
Affricate t͡s
Flap ɾ
Nasal m n ŋ
Approximant w j


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


  1. ^ Shuar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Shuar". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c d 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. 

External links[edit]