Protolanguage Amazon inhabitants reconstructed
Maku is a family of languages spoken by Indians in the Amazon rainforest. Dutch-funded researcher Valteir Martins has reconstructed the sound structure of an ancestral Maku language and has demonstrated that the Maku languages are genetically related to the Arawak languages.
Martins compared the results of existing studies into the Maku languages and for many years he also worked with speakers of these various languages. The Brazilian researcher established that the modern Maku languages can be divided into two groups, an eastern Brazilian branch and a western Colombian branch. Furthermore he reconstructed the sound structure as well as part of the lexicon of the ancestor of the Brazilian Maku languages, Proto-East-Maku.
The Brazilian branch of the language family contains the Indian languages Nadëb (300 speakers), Kuyawi (130), Hupda (1900), Yuhup (400, on the Colombian/Brazilian border), and Dâw (65). The Colombian branch contains the languages Nukak (700), Kakua (125), and the more widely distributed Puinave (2000).
Most of the older classifications of the languages spoken in the Amazon area are based on incomplete reports of European explorers made at the start of the last century. These mostly learned travellers used the phonetic similarity of words to group languages. However the Brazilian Maku languages evolved in a misleading manner. As a result of this, the earlier comparative linguists could not discover the relationship between the Maku languages and the other language families which Martins discovered.
The words of the eastern Maku languages have gradually become shorter during their history because, for example, the unstressed syllables within words and at the at the end of words have disappeared.
Now the majority of words contain just one syllable. Perhaps as a compensation for the increasingly shorter words, the speakers of these languages increased the number of vowels. The languages also developed a system of tonal oppositions, with which words could be distinguished from each other in terms of phonetic form and meaning. As a result of these developments the Maku languages sound nothing like the other Amazonian languages.
Due to the somewhat exceptional structure of their languages, some researchers claimed that the Maku Indians were the first inhabitants of the Amazon region. However, the proto-language of the Brazilian Maku languages constructed by Martins is so similar to the Arawak languages that in the researchers opinion, these language families must be genetically related. Accordingly, the question as to when the language family arrived in the region has become irrelevant.
Valteir Martins research was funded by the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (NWO-WOTRO).
Prof. Leo Wetzels | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...