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Trumai language

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Title: Trumai language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Language isolate, Classification schemes for Southeast Asian languages, Trumai people, Language families, Arutani–Sape languages
Collection: Language Isolates of South America
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Trumai language

ho kod ke
Native to Brazil
Region upper Xingu River
Ethnicity Trumai people
Native speakers
51  (2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tpy
Glottolog trum1247[2]

Trumai is an endangered language isolate of Brazil. Most Trumai are fluent in languages of wider communication, and children are not learning it well.


Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p t, d k ʔ
Ejective t̪ʼ
Affricate ts, tsʼ
Fricative f s, ɬ ʃ x h
Nasal m n
Approximant w ɾ, l j

This inventory is atypical of Amazonian languages (Trumai is a recent immigrant to the Xingu basin) in its ejective consonants, the lateral fricative /ɬ/, and the alveolar–dental distinction. Guirardello, who specializes on Trumai, has presented varied inventories of these phonemes: Guirardello (1999a)[3] lists /t̪ t̪' ts ts' s/ as dental, and /t t' d n l ɬ ɾ/ as alveolar; whereas Guirardello (1999b) lists only /t/ and /t'/ as alveolar.[4] Younger speakers do not make the ejective distinction.

The vocalic inventory is /i, e, a, o, u/ and /ɨ/. Syllable structure is maximally CVC, and stress always falls on the final syllable of a word.


1st-person/exclusive pronouns are formed in ha, inclusive with ka, 2nd person with hi, and 3rd with in. Dual number is indicated by the suffix -a, and plural by -wan. Masculine and feminine are distinguished in the 3rd person.

Alienable possession is indicated by the suffix -kte or -kate on the possessor (Kumaru-kte tahu "Kumaru's spoon"), and inalienable possession by juxtaposition (dinoxo kuʃ "the girl's head", ha kuʃ "my head").

Suffixes are used to mark ergative (-ts for 1sg, otherwise -ek/-ak), dative, locative, allative, comitative, and instrumental case.


Trumai is an ergative–absolutive language. Dative case is used for verbs such as 'eat', 'see', and 'talk with'. There are two verbs 'kill', one, -fa, which takes a dative, and one, disi, which takes the ergative. Constituent order is basically ergative-absolutive-verb-dative (SV, SVB, AOV, AOVB). Ergative and dative arguments, which are marked by postpositions, may occur on the other side of the verb, but for an absolutive to do this, it needs to be marked with ke.

Quantifiers and possessors occur before the noun, adjectives after.

Causatives are doubly marked for ergative case:

Alaweru-k hai-ts axos disi ka
(name)-ERG I-ERG child hit CAUS
"Alaweru made me hit the child."


  1. ^ Trumaí at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Trumaí". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Guirardello, Raquel (1999). A reference grammar of Trumai. Rice University. 
  4. ^ Guirardello, Raquel (1999). "Trumai". In Dixon, R.M.W.; Aikhenvald, Alexandra. The Amazonian Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 352.  

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