Kapóng language

Native to Guyana, Venezuela
Ethnicity Akawaio, Patamona
Native speakers
(10,000 cited 1990–2002)[1]
  • Venezuelan Carib

    • Pemóng–Panare
      • Pemóng
        • Kapóng
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
ake  Akawaio
pbc  Patamona
Glottolog kapo1251[2]

Kapóng is a Cariban language spoken mainly in Guyana, most commonly in the region of the Upper Mazaruni. Though many speakers don't live in villages, there are a number of population centers, notably Kamarang, Jawalla, Waramadong, and Kako. There are two dialects, Akawaio and Patamona.

Kapóng also goes by its Macushi name, Ingarikó.


The Carib tribes practice an indigenous system of beliefs, one that dates back to the 16th century. It was not until the 19th century that attempts were made to understand the beliefs and practices of this tribe. Much of the Kapóng language refers back to sun worship and sun spirits, which is reflective of the beliefs system of these Carib-speaking tribes. Literature has also found belief in a higher being in the sky among the Carib tribes in Guyana.[3]

Geographic Distribution

The Kapóng language is found to be spoken in lowland tropical South America, particularly in the countries of Guyana, Brazil, and Venezuela. In Guyana, Kapóng is spoken in forests by the Mazaruni River Basin. Speakers in Brazil are found in the Roraima Indigenous Terra Raposa. The number of speakers in Brazil is about 10,000, and the transmission of language in Brazil is deemed to be of good standing.[4] In Venezuela, Kapóng is spoken in the states of Bolivar and Monagas.


Kapóng has three dialects as follows:[5]



p b t d s k g m n ȑ w y


i e o u a ɨ ë



-amok (aemvk) = an ending used to make words plural. (i.e.) Adding amok to "Kapong" makes "Kapong" plural; Kapong yamok

-da = a marker used to mark possession. (i.e.) kaata = book; da kaata = my book


Much of the Kapóng language has emphasis on a higher spirit/god up in the sky, and this is reflected in the vocabulary in this language.


The word order of Kapóng is SOV (subject-object-verb), however, it is not rigid. There are cases where the object precedes the subject in sentences. An example of this is:[6]

"warawokamök-ya moorok achii"

boys fish catch = the boys catch fish

There are no gender distinctions found in Kapóng, as there are no differences in personal pronoun systems and affixes to indicate genders of nouns.

Similes are often used in writing, as many words in this language allow this to occur. Through the use of suffixes, many words can be converted into similes. Examples are as follows:[7]

External links


  1. Akawaio at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Patamona at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kapong". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 Butt, Audrey J. (1953). "THE BURNING FOUNTAIN WHENCE IT CAME": (A study of the system of beliefs of the Carib-speaking Akawaio of British Guiana.). University of the West Indies: Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies. pp. 114–115.
  4. Brenzinger, Matthias (2015). Language Diversity Endangered. Walter de Gruyte. p. 38. ISBN 978-3-11-090569-4.
  5. Cambell, Lyle (2003). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford University Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-3110170504.
  6. Edwards, Walter F. (September 1979). "A Comparison of Selected Linguistic Features in Some Cariban and Arawakan Languages in Guyana". Trustees of Indiana University Anthropological Linguistics. JSTOR 30027731.
  7. Butt, Audrey J (1961). "SYMBOLISM AND RITUAL AMONG THE AKAWAIO OF BRITISH GUIANA". Nieuwe West-Indische Gids / New West Indian Guide.
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