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Yanomaman languages

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Title: Yanomaman languages  
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Subject: Classification schemes for Southeast Asian languages, Indigenous languages of Northern Amazonia, Yanomaman languages, José Padilha, Gender role in language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Yanomaman languages

Ethnicity: Yąnomamö
Linguistic classification: One of the world's primary language families
Glottolog: yano1260[1]
Yanomaman languages in Venezuela

Yanomaman (also Yanomam, Yanomáman, Yamomámi, Yanomamana, Shamatari, Shirianan) is a language family spoken by about 20,000 Yanomami people in southern Venezuela and northwestern Brazil (Roraima, Amazonas).


Yanomaman consists of five languages, very similar to each other, sometimes classified as a dialect continuum:

  1. Yanam (AKA Ninam, Yanam-Ninam, Jawari)
  2. Sanumá (AKA Tsanuma, Sanima)
  3. Yanomámi (AKA Waiká)
  4. Yanomamö (AKA Yanomame, Yanomami)
  5. Yaroamë (AKA Jawari)

Sunumá is the most lexically distinct. Yanomamö has the most speakers (20,000), while Yanam and Yaroame have the fewest (400 apiece).

Genetic relations

Yanomaman is usually not connected with any other language family. Joseph Greenberg has suggested a relationship between Yanomaman and Macro-Chibchan. Migliazza (1985) has suggested a connection with Panoan and Chibchan. Neither proposal has been accepted.


Yanomami is not what the Yanomami call themselves (an autonym), but rather it is a word in their language meaning "man" or "human being". The American anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon adopted this term to use as an exonym to refer to the culture and, by extension, the people. The word is correctly pronounced thorough nasalisation. As the phonetic sound 'ö' does not occur in English, variations in spelling and pronunciation of the

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