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 Engineering cooperation
05.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Research project: EUR 3.3 million for improved quality of life in shrinking cities
02.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>