Arawak language

Native to French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela
Region Guianas
Ethnicity Lokono (Arawak)
Native speakers
(2,500 cited 1980–2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-2 arw
ISO 639-3 arw
Glottolog araw1276[2]

Lokono (Lokono Dian, literally 'people’s talk' by its speakers), also referred to as Arawak (Arowak/Aruák), is an Arawak language spoken by the Lokono people of South America in eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.[3] While the term "Arawak" has been used in reference to this people, Lokono more accurately reflects the speakers' own language, as the name has been historically extended to cover the eponymous Arawak language family.

Lokono has an active–stative syntax.[4]



Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Aspirated stops
Unvoiced stops t k
Voiced stops b d
Fricatives ɸ s h
Nasal m n
Approximant w l j
Trills r ɽ

William Pet observes that an additional /p/ does occur in loans.[5]


Front Central Back
Close i ɨ
Mid e o
Open a

Pet notes that phonetic realization of /o/ varies between [o] and [u].[5]


The personal pronouns are shown below. The forms on the left are free forms, which can stand alone. The forms on the right are bound forms (prefixes), which must be attached to the front of a verb, a noun, or a postposition.[6]

singular plural
1st person de, da- we, wa-
2nd person bi, by- hi, hy-
3rd person li, ly- (he)

tho, thy- (she)

ne, na-


  1. Arawak at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lokono". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Pet, Willem J. A. A Grammar Sketch and Lexicon of Arawak (Lokono Dian). SIL International. 2011. p 2.
  4. Aikhenvald, "Arawak", in Dixon & Aikhenvald, eds., The Amazonian Languages, 1999.
  5. 1 2 Pet, William (1988). Lokono dian: the Arawak language of Surinam: a sketch of its grammatical structure and lexicon. PhD dissertation, Cornell University.
  6. Pet, Willem J. A. A Grammar Sketch and Lexicon of Arawak (Lokono Dian). SIL International. 2011. p 12.

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