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Bara Indian Language (Bará, Baras)

Language: Bara is a Tucanoan language of South America. It is a tone language with SOV word order. Bara is most closely related to the Waimaha, Tuyuca, and Juruti languages, some of which are referred to as dialects because their speakers can understand each other. The linguists most familiar with these languages, however, maintain that they are distinct from each other and that the people who speak them simply have a high degree of multilingualism. Tucanoan tribes are exogamous (they have strong cultural taboos against marrying within their own tribe,) so women usually join a new tribe when they are ready to marry. Most Tucanoan children consequently grow up speaking two languages, and the classification of Tucanoan languages and dialects has been complicated. Bara is spoken as a first language by only about 50 people in Brazil, but is used as a second language by many more Tucanoan people in Brazil and Colombia.

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Names: The name Bará comes from their own word for a ceremonial plant, but the people more often call themselves Waipínõmakã, a name that means "fish anaconda people" and refers to their mythological origin story. Other names and spellings used to refer to the Bará people include Bara, Bará-Tukano, Bara Sona, Bupua Bara, Pokanga, Pokangá-Tapuya, Pocanga, Pakang, Wañaco, amd Wamutañara. They are sometimes referred to by locals as Barasano del Norte, since they are related to the Barasana tribe living to their south.

Our Online Bara Materials

Bara Words:
    Our list of vocabulary words in the Bara language.

Bara Language Resources

Languages of the Northwest Amazon:
    Map showing the location of Bara-speaking communities on the Colombia-Brazil border.
Ethnologue: Pokangá:
    Demographic information on the Bara language.
Bará-Tuyuka Language Tree:
    Theories about Bara's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
House of Languages: Bara
     Information about Bara language usage.
Estudios de la lengua Bará:
    Background about Bará and other Tucanoan language usage in Colombia. Page in Spanish.
La Lengua Bará:
    Information on the Bará language including linguistic maps of South America. Page in Spanish.

Bara Culture and History

Indigenous Peoples of Brazil: Bara:
    Online ethnography of the Bara people.
Recording the past, representing the present: Indians of the Colombian Vaupés:
    Photoessay on the Tukano tribes of Colombia, including the Barasana and Bará.

Books for Sale on the Baras
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The Amazonian Languages:
    Linguistic information about Bara and dozens of other Amazonian languages.
The Fish People: Linguistic Exogamy and Tukanoan Identity in Northwest Amazonia:
    Anthropology book on the social structures of the Bara and other Tucanoan tribes.

Links, References, and Additional Information

Endangered Languages Project: Bara:
Bibliography of Bara language resources.
Os Bara: * Povo Bara:
Information about the Bara in Portuguese.
Grupo Indigena Bara-Waimaha: * Barasano del Norte:
Information about the Baras in Spanish.

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