Proto-Tupian language

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Reconstruction ofTupian languages
RegionMadeira River basin?
Eraca. 3000 BCE
Lower-order reconstructions

Proto-Tupian (PT) is the reconstructed common ancestor of all the Tupian languages. It consists, therefore, of a hypothetical language, reconstructed by the comparative method from data of the descendant languages.

In Brazil, Tupian historical-comparative studies are being developed mainly by two scientific teams: one from the Laboratório de Línguas Indígenas (LALI) of the University of Brasília, under the coordination of Aryon Rodrigues; and the other one from the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, located in Belém, under the orientation of Denny Moore. These studies provide evidence about the Proto-Tupian economy and culture, suggesting, for example, that they had agriculture.[1]

The most accepted theory is that the Tupian language family originated between the Guaporé and Aripuanã rivers, in the Madeira River basin. There are currently 70 Tupian languages, including Tupi, Paraguayan Guarani, Awetï, Ayvu, etc.

Homeland and Urheimat[edit]

Rodrigues (2007) considers the Proto-Tupian Urheimat to be somewhere between the Guaporé and Aripuanã rivers, in the Madeira River basin. Much of this area corresponds to the modern-day state of Rondônia, Brazil. 5 of the 10 Tupian branches are found in this area, as well as some Tupi–Guarani languages (especially Kawahíb), making it the probable urheimat of these languages and maybe of its speaking peoples. Rodrigues believes that Proto-Tupian dates back to around 5,000 B.P.

O'Hagan (2014)[2] proposes that Proto-Tupi-Guarani was spoken in the region of the lower Tocantins and Xingu Rivers. Proto-Omagua-Kokama then expanded up the Amazon River, Proto-Tupinamba expanded south along the Atlantic coast, and the Southern branch expanded up along the Tocantins/Araguaia River towards the Paraná River basin.


This section lists Proto-Tupían reconstructions from Rodrigues and Cabral (2012). Since the reconstructions are highly tentative, the Proto-Tupían forms are all marked by two asterisks.[3]

For a list of Proto-Tupian reconstructions by Nikulin (2020),[4] see the corresponding Portuguese article.

Independent nouns[edit]

Proto-Tupian independent nouns:[3]:511

Dependent nouns[edit]

Proto-Tupian dependent nouns:[3]:511

Verbs, affixes, and others[edit]

Proto-Tupian verbs, affixes, and other parts of speech:[3]:527

Cultural vocabulary[edit]

Proto-Tupían cultural vocabulary (Rodrigues and Cabral 2012):[3]:562–563

gloss Proto-Tupian
**up 'father'
**čɨ 'mother'
**čɨʔɨt 'mother's sister'
**amõj 'grandfather'
**aʔɨt 'man's son'
**memɨt 'woman's child'
**men 'husband'
**atʔɨ 'wife'
**ike 'man's older brother'
**kɨpʔɨʔɨt 'man's younger brother'
**kɨpwɨt 'woman's brother'
**wamu(ã) 'shaman'
**ekw 'house'
**ekwen 'door'
**tʔap 'thatch'
**upap 'lying place'
**eɾĩ 'hammock'
**acoʔi 'to cover'
**ekwat 'village patio'
**ŋo ~ ŋe 'cultivated field'
**čɨt 'digging stick'
**mani 'manioc'
**awa(i) 'yams (Dioscorea sp.)'
**wetjɨk 'sweet potato'
**kuɾua 'pumpkin'
**pe 'tobacco'
**ɾjuku 'achiote (Bixa orellana)'
**ɨʔa 'calabash'
**ekwʔɨp 'arrow'
**wekeʔa 'fish trap'
**wɨ 'ax'
**ɨɾju 'basket'
**čʔam 'rope'
**waʔẽ 'ceramic pot'
**čɨt 'to bake'
**wɨp 'to bake, to cook'
**mõj 'to cook'
**eʔe 'to grate'
**čekw 'to pound'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rodrigues, Aryon dall'Agna & Ana Suelly Arruda Câmara Cabral. Investigando a origem e o desenvolvimento de orações dependentes nas famílias do tronco lingüístico Tupi Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. Revista da Abralin, volume 5, numbers 1 and 2 (ten/2006)
  2. ^ O'Hagan, Zachary (with Keith Bartolomei, Natalia Chousou-Polydouri, Emily Clem, Erin Donnelly and Lev Michael). 2014. A Computational-phylogenetic Classification of Tupí-Guaraní and its Geographical Spread. Language Variation and Change, October 20, Chicago.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rodrigues, Aryon Dall'Igna; Cabral, Ana Suelly Arruda Câmara (2012). "Tupían". In Grondona, Verónica; Campbell, Lyle (eds.). The Indigenous Languages of South America. The World of Linguistics. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 495–574. ISBN 9783110255133.
  4. ^ Nikulin, Andrey. 2020. Proto-Macro-Jê: um estudo reconstrutivo. Doctoral dissertation, University of Brasília.

Further reading[edit]