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Baniwa Language (Baniua Içana)
Baniwa do Icana is an Arawakan language of South America,
spoken by 6000 people in Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. Baniwa is very closely related to the
which are sometimes collectively referred to by linguists as Karu.
A third language, called
Baniva de Guainia,
is spoken in Venezuela and Colombia but is only distantly related to Baniva do Icana--the two languages are
said to be no more closely related than English and Russian. Baniwa do Icana is a
polysynthetic language with predominantly
SVO word order.
Thanks for your interest in Native American languages!
Names: Baniwa is the name for the tribe in the language of the neighboring
Nhengatu people, where it means "manioc people"
(Arawakan communities like the Baniwa have traditionally relied heavily on farming manioc, a root-like plant crop.) The Baniwa of Icana
and the Baniva of Guainia have always been politically distinct from each other and their languages are only distantly related, but they share
similar agricultural techniques, so the Nhengatu called them both 'manioc farmers'. This name is more often
spelled "Baniva" in reference to the Baniva of Guainia, who live in Venezuela and Colombia, and "Baniwa" in reference to the Baniwa of Icana,
who live in Brazil, but that doesn't have anything to do with the name the Nhengatu call them (which is the same)-- only with the differing spelling
conventions of the Spanish and Portuguese languages which are dominant in those two countries.
Though the Baniwa people accept this name, they refer to themselves in their own language as Walimanai
("the living generations," as opposed to the ancestors) and their language as Waku (which means "speech.")
Some Baniwa people also use the name Wakuenai, which means "speakers of our language."
Alternate spellings for these names include Baníwa, Baniua, Baniba, Maniba, Maniva,
Baniwa do Içana, Baniua do Içana, Baniua Içana, Baniua do Icana, Baniva del Isana,
Izana, Issana, Baniwa-Kurripako, Curripaco-Baniva, Karútana-Baniwa, Karútiana-Baniva, Wáku, and Wakuénai.
Important Baniwa subgroups include the Siusi
(or Walipere-Dakenai), the Tatú (or Adzaneni,)
the Kawa (or Maulieni), the Hohodene, the Dzauinai,
the Moriwene (or Sucuriyu), the Ira, and the Kadaupuritana
(variously spelled as Ualiperi, Siuci, Siusy, Seuci, Suici, Hohodena, Hohodené, Adzáneni, Adzanene, Tatu, Kawá, Katapolitana, Catapolitani, and
Kadawapurítana.) These names can sometimes also be heard as compound words such as Siusi-Tapuya, Kawa-Tapuya, Ira-Tapuya, and so on.
"Tapuya" is just a Tupi-Guarani word for "outsider," and is appended to the names of many non-Tupi Brazilian tribes.
Baniwa language samples and resources.
Baniwa People Culture and History
Information and links about the Baniwa tribe past and present.
Our list of vocabulary words in the Baniwa language, with comparison to words in other Arawakan languages.
Baniwa Pronunciation Guide:
How to pronounce Baniwa words.
Baniwa Animal Words:
Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Baniwa language.
Online and printable worksheets showing color words in the Baniwa language.
Baniwa Body Parts:
Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Baniwa language.
Worksheet showing how to count in the Baniwa language.
Baniwa Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources
La lengua indígena Baniwa en Venezuela:
Book about the Baniwa language in Spanish for sale online.
Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia:
Anthropology book on the Baniwa and other Arawakan languages of the Amazon.
Languages of the Amazon:
Linguistic information about Baniwa of Icana and dozens of other Amazonian languages.
Baniwa Language Resources
House of Languages: Baniwa
Facts about Baniwa language usage.
Demographic information on the Baniwa language.
Archive of Baniwa language recordings available for download.
Baniwa language information in Spanish.
Baniwa Language Tree:
Theories about Baniwa's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Baniwa Language Structures:
Baniwa linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
Phonological inventory of the Baniwa language, with a sample text.
Links, References, and Additional Information
Wikipedia: Baniwa of Içana:
Encyclopedia articles on the Baniwa language.
Ipeka-Kurripako Língua Baniua:
Information about the Curripaco and Baniwa languages in Spanish and Portuguese.
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