[aka Mapoyo-Yavarana, Mapoyo, Mapayo]

Classification: Cariban


critically endangered

Language metadata

Mapoyo-Yavarana, Mapoyo, Mapayo, Mapoye, Mopoi, Nepoye, Wanai

Cariban, Venezuelan

ISO 639-3


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Ethnologue (2016) lists 4 languages in its Mapoyo-Yavarana subgroup of Cariban: Mapoyo [mcg] , Pémono [pev], Tamanaku [tmz], Yabarana [yar]. Other sources differ by considering some of these to be dialects of a single Mapoyo-Yawarana language.
Gildea (personal communication 2014) reports that until we get some more reliable data, it appears that there are/were 3 languages: †Tamanaku, Mapoyo (ethnonym Wanai, dialect †Pémono), and Yawarana (with alternate names Orechicano, Curachicano, Woquiare). (See also Gildea 2013.) Tamanaku is long extinct, with no attested speakers for at least a century, and therefore does not have an entry of its only in this Catalogue. Mapoyo and Yawarana are often considered separate languages, each with its own entry in this Catalogue. However, there were just some old wordlists for Yawarana and almost nothing for Mapoyo. Marie-Claude Mattéi Muller went to the Mapoyo area in the 1970s and collected some data, from which she extracted a Mapoyo wordlist (Mattéi Muller1977a, 1977b). Mattéi-Muller and Henley (1990) published Mattéi-Muller’s comparative wordlists, comparing her Mapoyo data to the published Yawarana words; they found 80% cognacy between the two and suggested maybe they were dialects of a single language. In 1998, Mattéi-Muller did fieldwork with the Yawarana, where she played a 1970s tape of Mapoyo speakers, and the Yawarana speakers (i) had difficulty understanding, but recognized Mapoyo as very closely related, and (ii) recognized the manner of speech as that of an old woman living in an isolated village far upstream. She went to this old speaker, who turned out to be the last speaker of Pémono, which seems to have been a dialect of Mapoyo (Mattéi Muller 2003).

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