Zaparoan languages

western Amazon
Linguistic classification:

Saparo–Yawan ?

  • Zaparoan
Glottolog: zapa1251[1]

Zaparoan (also Sáparoan, Záparo, Zaparoano, Zaparoana) is an endangered language family of Peru and Ecuador with fewer than 100 speakers. Zaparoan speakers seem to have been very numerous before the arrival of the Europeans but their groups have been decimated by imported diseases and warfare and only a handful of them have survived.


There were 39 Zaparoan-speaking tribes at the beginning of the 20th century,[2] every one of them presumably using its own distinctive language or dialect. Most of them have become extinct before being recorded, however, and we have information only about nine of them.

Aushiri and Omurano are included by Stark (1985). Aushiri is generally accepted as Zaparoan, but Omurano remains unclassified in other descriptions.

Genetic relations

The relationship of zaparoan languages with other language families of the area is uncertain. It is generally considered isolated. Links with other languages or families have been proposed but none has been widely accepted so far.

Family features


Zaparoan languages distinguishes between inclusive and exclusive we and consider the first person singular as the default person. A rare feature is the existence of two sets of personal pronouns with different syntactic values according to the nature of the sentence. Active pronouns are subject in independent clauses and object in dependent ones, while passive pronouns are subject in independent clauses and passive in dependent ones :


(arabella) Cuno maaji cua masuu-nuju-quiaa na mashaca cua ratu-nu-ra. (this woman is always inviting me to drink masato [3] where cua is object in the main clause and subject in the subordinate one.
(zaparo) /tʃa na itʌkwaha/ (you wil fall) cp /tajkwa ko pani tʃa tʃata ikwano/ (I don't want to go with you) [4]
Personal pronouns in Zaparoan languages
1S 2S 3S 1Pin 1Pex 2P 3AP
Zaparo ko / kwi / k- tʃa / tʃ- / k-/ ki naw / no / n-ˑ pa /p- kana /kaʔno kina / kiʔno na
Arabela janiya / -nijia / cua
cuo- / cu- / qui
quiajaniya / quiaa / quia / quio-
-quia / cero
nojuaja / na / ne- / no-
-Vri / -quinio
pajaniya / paa / pa / po-
pue- / -pue
canaa niajaniya / niaa / nia / nio- nojori / na / no-
Iquito cu / quí / quíija quia / quiáaja anúu / anúuja p'++ja cana / canáaja naá / nahuaáca
Conambo kwiɣia / ku kyaχa


   Gloss    Zaparoan languages
Zaparo Andoa Arabela Iquito
1 nuquaqui nikínjo niquiriyatu núquiica.
2 namisciniqui ishki caapiqui cuúmi
3 haimuckumarachi kímsa jiuujianaraca s++saramaj+táami
4 ckaramaitacka



  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Zaparoan". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. La famille linguistique Zaparo, H. Beuchat and P. Rivet – Journal de la société des américanistes – Année 1908 lien Volume 5 pp. 235–249
  3. Dicconario Arabella—Castellano, Rolland G. Rich, Instituto Lingüistico de Verano, Perú – 1999
  4. Bosquejo Gramatical del Zaparo, M. Catherine Peeke, Cuadernos Etnolingüisticos, n°14, Instituto Lingüistico de Verano, Quito, 1991
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