Tacanan Languages
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Tacanan Languages
Linguistic classificationPano-Tacanan?
  • Takanan
Pano-Takanan languages.png
Takanan languages (light green) and Panoan languages (dark green). Spots indicate documented locations.

Tacanan is a family of languages spoken in Bolivia, with Ese'ejja also spoken in Peru. It may be related to the Panoan languages. Many of the languages are endangered.

Family division

  • Ese Ejja (a.k.a. Ese'eha, Tiatinagua, Chama, Huarayo, Guacanawa, Chuncho, Ese'exa, Tatinawa, Ese exa)
  • Araona-Tacana

Toromono is apparently extinct. Another possibly extinct Tacanan language is Mabenaro; Arasa has been classified as Tacanan, but appears to have more in common with Panoan.

Language contact

Jolkesky (2016) notes that there are lexical similarities with the Kayuvava, Tupi, and Arawak language families due to contact.[1]


Below is a full list of Tacanan language varieties listed by Loukotka (1968), including names of unattested varieties.[2]

  • Tacana - language with many relationships with the Arawak and Pano languages, spoken on the Beni River, Tuichi River, and Tequeje River, territory of Colonia, Bolivia; now spoken by only a few families. Dialects are:
  • Araona - once spoken on the Madre de Dios River and Manuripi River in Colonia, Bolivia, now perhaps extinct.
  • Capechene / Capaheni - unknown language spoken on the Xapuri River and Rosiano River, Acre territory, Brazil. (Unattested.)
  • Sapiboca - extinct language once spoken at the old mission of Reyes, Beni province, Bolivia.
  • Chirigua / Shiribá - extinct language once spoken at the old mission of Santa Buenaventura, Beni. (Unattested.)
  • Guarizo - extinct language once spoken at the old missions of Reyes and San Antonio de Isiama.
  • Maropa - spoken in the vicinity of Lake Rogoaguado, Beni, now probably extinct.
  • Guacanahua / Chama / Ese'ejja - spoken by a small tribe on the Madidi River and Undumo River, La Paz province, Bolivia.
  • Mabenaro - spoken on the Manuripi River.
  • Caviña / Cavineña - once spoken on the Cavinas River, Madidi River, and Beni River, now probably extinct.
  • Toromona - once spoken between the Madidi River, Beni River, and Madre de Dios River, now perhaps extinct.
  • Arasa - language spoken by the greater part of the Arazaire tribe (of Pano stock) on the Marcopata River and Arasa River.
  • Tiatinagua / Mohino / Chuncho / Huarayo / Baguaja / Tambopata-Guarayo / Echoja - spoken by a tribe on the Peru-Bolivia border, on the Tambopata River.


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for the Tacanan languages.[2]

gloss Tacana Tumupasa Isiama Araona Sapiboca Maropa Guacanahua Mabenaro Caviña Toromona Arasa Tiatinagua
one peada peada peáda peada pebbi pembive pea nonchina owi
two beta beta beta beta beta beta béka beta béka béta bikapiai
head e-chua e-shua é-cho e-chua e-chuxa e-chuxa i-yoa i-yuka é-osha é-osha
eye e-tásha é-tasha ey-raha e-sásha é-shakuéna i-thaha i-xaka e-shásh é-shásha i-sash
hand e-me ä-ma e-me e-me e-mé e-me i-miatsa e-metuku i-á e-mä e-mé
water eavi ahui eahui eavi eubi xubi eowi ena ena éna
fire kuati kuáti kuáti kuati kuati kuati kuáti kwathi etiki kuáti chi kuáti
sun ideti ita:ti itatti izeti iseti icheti igeti huári eshét
maize dixe o:tisha ärishe shíshe chixe shishé ixike shishé shishe shishi
tapir ähuadi a:huadi ahuáta ahuánsha auada sháawi shauví
house ete äte ete etai etae étai ithai etare ekíi so:po eti

Sample vocabulary of four Tacanan languages, along with Proto-Panoan for comparison, from Nikulin (2019):[3]

gloss Ese Ejja Araona Cavineña Tacana Proto-Panoan
liver e-kak?a ták?a e-tak?a e-tak?a *tak?a
tongue ej-ana e-ána j-ana j-ana *hana
blood ami ami ami *himi
you (sg.) mi-a mi mi- mi *mi
hand e-me e-me e-me-tuku e-me *m?-
earth me?i mezizo met?i 'soil' med'i *mai
meat e-jami e-ami e-rami j-ami 'muscle' *rami
stone mahana makana *maka
bone e-sá e-tsoa e-tsau e-tsau *?ao
(finger)nail e-me-ki?e Ø-mé-tezi e-me-tid'i *m-tsis
fat e-sei e-tsei e-tseri e-tsei *[n]i
tooth e-sé e-tse e-tse e-tse *ta

Further reading

  • Girard, Victor (1971). Proto-Takanan Phonology (University of California Publications in Linguistics, 70.) Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.


  1. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas (Ph.D. dissertation) (2 ed.). Brasília: University of Brasília.
  2. ^ a b Loukotka, ?estmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.
  3. ^ Nikulin, Andrey V. The classification of the languages of the South American Lowlands: State-of-the-art and challenges / ? ? ?. Illi?-Svity? (Nostratic) Seminar / ?, October 17, 2019.


  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13-67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46-76). London: Routledge.

External links

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