Since the declaration of the Supreme Decree N.º 25894 on September 11, 2000, Cayubaba has been one of the official indigenous languages of Bolivia, which was included in the Political Constitution, which was introduced on February 7, 2009.
As shown by Crevels and Muysken (2012), the territory of Cayubaba forms part of a region historically known as Mojos (or Moxos), that covers approximately 200,000 square kilometers of what is currently the Department of Beni. Above all, the Cayubaba focus on traditional farming, growing rice, yucca, corn, bananas, sugar cane, beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, etc. They also raised livestock, although on a small scale. The Cayubaba community meets at the Subcentral Indígena Cayubaba, which is affiliated to the Indigenous Peoples Center of Beni (CPIB) and is, therefore, a member of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Bolivia (CIDOB).
The first to establish contact with the Cayubaba was the Jesuit missionary priest, P. Agustín Zapata in 1693. As Crevels and Muysken (2012) point out, it was during this first visit to Cayubaba territory that Father Zapata saw seven villages, of which six had approximately 1,800 inhabitants and one had more than 2,000. At the beginning of the 18th century, P. Antonio Garriga funded the Mission of Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was primarily inhabited by the Cayubaba. Later the Missions of San Carlos, Conception, and Peñas were founded.
At the beginning of the 19th century, when Swedish geologist and paleontologist Erland Nordenskiold visited Cayubaba, there were only 100 people from the group, who apart from their language, kept very little of their native culture. The Cayubaba region was famous for growing tobacco. At the time of the exploitation of rubber, the commercialization of tobacco was intense throughout the country, and Exaltación became a busy port on the Mamoré River. In the mid- 20th century, however, the cultivation of tobacco was almost stopped by the mass emigration of Cayubaba to Exaltación, who were fleeing the measles epidemic that almost decimated the population.
As indicated by Crevels and Muysken (2012), despite all the tentative proposals to genetically classify Cayubaba (see, for example, Greenberg, 1987); Kaufman, 1990, 1994; Suárez, 1974), the language is still considered a language isolate.
Cayubaba presents the following system of consonantal phonemes (taken from Crevels and Muysken, 2012) based on (Key 1961), 1962, 1967). The consonant phoneme represented below with /r/ has allophones that include [ɾ~ l~ d̥].
Regarding the vocabulary and word classes in Cayubaba, the following can be pointed out (Crevels and Muysken, 2012):
In Cayubaba, there are five distinct word classes: verbs, for example boro 'give', tavu 'swim'. Nouns, for example veje-veje 'wind', ñoko 'monkey'. Pronouns, for example ãre-ai '1SG', ãre-a '2SG', and modifiers and particles, for example kóra 'perhaps', ñõhõ'now'.
In regards to adjectives, many adjectival concepts are expressed through predicate adjectives formed with the affixes pa(+i)... +ha, for example: pa-i-ra-ha ''Well, be well', pa-tï-ha 'red, is red'. This is to say, it is difficult to establish criteria for the class of adjectives separate from verbs.
In addition, Cayubaba presents some adverbs, such as pïïrë 'sboro 'lowly', irire 'good'.
boro 'The basic numerical system includes five numerals: karata/kata 'one', mitia/mite 'two', kurapa 'three', chaada/chaad 'four', y me(i)da(ru) 'five'. These numerals can be combined with the rirobo element (irobo/erobo/iro/hiro/kiro) 'five more' to form numbers up to ten. The numbers eleven to nineteen are formed with the augmentative suffix - hiiñe ‘and, in addition to'. Starting from one hundred, borrowed words from Castilian are used, such as karata-siento[one-one hundred] ''one hundred', karata-mirie [one-thousand] 'a thousand'.
Regarding the morphology of Cayubaba, the following is presented from Crevels and Muysken:
Regarding the nominal morphology, the cayubaba shows a process of full reduplication, for example wïrï-wïrï 'iguana', and partial, for example uku-ku 'pig'. In addition, there are also six complex and productive processes of nominal composition:
The plural nominal is expressed through the procliticme = as observed in (Figure 1). In nominal sentences, the proclitic me, is appended to the first element of the sentence, as seen in (Figure 2).
The personal pronouns in Cayubaba function as independent elements, but they actually are derived from verb forms. The basic pronouns, which are presented in Table 3, are derived from the existential verb ãre 'there are', 'exist'. In this verb form, the direct object marker is suffixed. In the case of plural pronouns, you can put the personal markers before the suffix -hi ‘present active state'. These pronouns may be considered, then, like presentative pronouns in the sense of 'I'm the one who...'.
Table 3: Base Pronouns
As for the verbal morphology, there are processes of reduplication and affixation, as well as a set of proclitic and enclitic elements. There are certain types of reduplication, for example [root + root] reduplication in ròmò-ròmò 'kneel down' to express an ongoing action. As for the process of affixation, the verb can be modified by a series of prefixes and suffixes that indicate the subject, object, time, appearance, mode, etc., for example, the first-position prefixes that mark time and appearance, such as the mara-'hypothetical future' in (3) and mera- 'simple future' in (4).
‘(I) would inform you.’
‘I will teach.’
The verbal complex can also be modified by a series of proclitic and enclitic elements. Within the proclitic elements, there are modal/evidential proclitics, chui='certainty', manoro= 'almost' (surely), to have the intention. Within the enclitic elements, there are locative enclitics, e.g. "=jahi" 'below', "=puti"'outside', the temporal or aspectual enclitics, e.g. "koidi" 'sometimes', "=ñoho" 'now', and the relational enclitics, e.g. "=dyë" 'together', = ma 'with respect to a woman'.
With regard to the syntax of Cayubaba, the following is seen (Crevels and Muysken, 2012):
Cayubaba does not present a fixed constituent order. The only mandatory element in the clause is that the predicate usually precedes the subject and objects, as is observed in (5). If the subject is a free personal pronoun, then it always precedes the predicate, as observed in (6).
‘The woman brought water to her house.’
'He buys a rooster and two hens.’
With respect to the nominal phrase, the modifier precedes the nucleus, as shown in (7). However, the possessive element follows that which is possessed, as is observed in (8).
‘the father of my wife'
In Cayubaba, processes of incorporation are observed, as in (9), which consist of the incorporation of the direct object in the verb, which is in the same accent group.
‘I will build the house.’
Cayubaba also presents different subordination processes. The procliticki = in its subordinate function, for example, is used to indicate add-ons, as in (10), and it can also complete an adverbial subordinate, as in (11). It also distinguishes conjunctions that mark subordinate clauses and appear at the beginning of the sentence, for example, "=chu" 'because' in (12).