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Ocaina language

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Title: Ocaina language  
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Subject: Bora–Witoto languages, List of endangered languages in South America
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Ocaina language

Native to Peru, Colombia
Native speakers
190  (1998–2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 oca
Glottolog ocai1244[2]

Ocaina is an indigenous American language spoken in western South America.


Ocaina belongs to the Witotoan language family. It is its own group within the Huitoto-Ocaina sub-family.

Geographic distribution

Ocaina is spoken by 54 people in northeastern Peru and by 12 more in the Amazonas region of Colombia. Few children speak the language.


There are two dialects of Ocaina: Dukaiya and Ibo'tsa.



Ocaina consonant phonemes
  Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar/
Velar Glottal
Nasal lenis m n ɲ
fortis ɲː
Plosive p b t r k ɡ ʔ
Affricate ts dz
Fricative ɸ β s ʃ ʒ x h


Ocaina vowel phonemes
  Front Central Back
High i, ĩ ɨ, ɨ̃
Low e a, ã o, õ


Syllables in Ocaina may be marked with one of two tones: high or low.


Syllables in Ocaina consist of a vowel; single consonants may appear on either side of the vowel: (C)V(C).

Writing System

Ocaina is written using a Latin alphabet. A chart of symbols with the sounds they represent as is follows:

Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA Latin IPA
a /a/ b /b/ c /k/ ch /tʃ/ ds /dz/ dy /dʲ/ e /e/ f /ɸ/ g /ɡ/ h /ʔ/ i /i/
j /h/ k /k/ ll /dʒ/ m /m/ /mː/ n /n/ /nː/ ñ /ɲ/ ñ̈ /ɲː/ o /o/ p /p/
q /k/ r /r/ s /s/ sh /ʃ/ t /t/ ts /ts/ ty /tʲ/ u /ɨ/ v /β/ x /x/ y /ʒ/
  • Because the Ocaina alphabet is based on Spanish, c is used to indicate /k/ before a, o, and u, qu is used before e and i, and k is used in loan words, such as kerosene kerosene.
  • Nasalization is indicated by inserting n after a vowel. Compare: tya tyója [tʲa tʲóha] hang it vs. tya tyonjan [tʲa tʲṍhã] clean it.
  • High tone is indicated with the acute accent: á, é, í, ó, ú.


  1. ^ Ocaina at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ocaina". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  • Agnew, Arlene; Evelyn G. Pike (January 1957). "Phonemes of Ocaina (Huitoto)". International Journal of American Linguistics 23 (1): 24–27. doi:10.1086/464385. 
  • Leach, Ilo M. (2008). Mary Ruth Wise, ed. Vocabulario Ocaina (PDF). Serie Lingüística Peruana (in Spanish) 4 (2nd ed.). Yarinacocha, Peru: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano. 
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