Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protolanguage Amazon inhabitants reconstructed

17.05.2005


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 researcher’s 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
Further information:
http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOP_6B9DH6_Eng

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>