Shuar language

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Šiwar čičam
Native toEcuador
Native speakers
35,000 (2007)[1]
  • Shuar
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 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.

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.[4]

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]



Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p t k
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ
Fricative s ʃ h
Approximant w r 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, eds. (2017). "Shuar". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO). "The Shuar, a Forgotten Indigenous Community in Ecuador". Missing or empty |url= (help)[1]
  • Turner, Glen D. (1958): "Alternative phonemicizing in Jivaro", in International Journal of American Linguistics 24, 2, pp. 87–94.

External links[edit]