Language: Ashaninka is an Arawakan language of South America,
spoken by more than 50,000 people in Peru and Brazil today. Ashaninka is
polysynthetic and has
VSO word order.
Actually, there are between two and nine Ashaninka languages,
depending on the linguist doing the categorizing-- there are many different varieties of the Ashaninka language, but little agreement
about which are dialects and which are separate languages. The two main linguistic groupings are Ashaninka, which is spoken in
communities further to the south, and Asheninka, which is spoken further to the north.
One of the Asheninka languages, Gran Pajonal Asheninka,
is usually considered a distinct language, and three other Asheninka variants,
are considered by some to be distinct languages and by others to be
dialects of Pajonal. Other people consider all four of these to be Asheninka dialects.
A far northern dialect called Apurucayali
is sometimes also considered distinct, and some linguists class the related languages
as Ashaninka languages as well. Speakers of these different tongues can often understand each other, but not very well.
The similarity between different Ashaninka languages can be compared to the similarity between closely related languages such as
Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Names: The tribal name Ashaninka means "our relatives" in the Ashaninka language. (The same word is
pronounced Asheninka or Ashininka, in other dialects, and is spelled in a great variety of ways, including
Asháninka, Ashéninka, Ashaninca, Asheninca, Ashéninca, Ajyininka, Ajyeninka, Axininca, Axaninca, Ashaninga, Asheninga,
Ashenica, Ashaninta, Ashninca, and Asaninga.) The Ashaninka Indians are also commonly known as the
Campa, a name for their tribe that probably came
from the neighboring Quechua or Panoan languages. Though some Ashaninka communities refer to themselves as Campas,
many Ashaninkas dislike this term, considering it derogatory. Other names they have been known by are
Chuncho, and the names of
Ashaninka subgroups include Atsiri, Gran Pajonal, Tambo, Perené, Pichis, Ucayali, Apurucayali, and
Alternate spellings of these names include Kampa, Kompa, Camba, Thampa, Thamba, Campiti, Komparia, Kuruparia;
Andi, Ande; Chunchu, Chunco; Atiri; and Chascoco.