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4914 - Language contact between Karajá (Macro-Jê) and Tapirapé (Tupí-Guaraní): past and present

This paper deals with past and ongoing contact between the Karajá (Macro-Jê) and Tapirapé (Tupí-Guaraní) languages, spoken in the valley of the Araguaia River, Central Brazil. A thorough analysis of loans between both tribes reveals a multilayered situation of language contact, occurred under varying historical circumstances and geographic settings throughout the past few centuries. According to ethnographic and archaeological data, corroborated by Karajá oral history, the Karajá are the traditional inhabitants of the Araguaia valley. This is evidenced, as expected, by the nature of the loans exchanged between both languages (Karajá loans in Tapirapé referring to local fauna and riverine culture, Tapirapé loans in Karajá referring to agricultural items, etc.). A few Karajá loans occur not only in Tapirapé, but also in closely-related Tupí-Guaraní languages whose speakers no longer live in the area, providing clues for determining a relative time frame and approximate migratory route for the Tupí-Guaraní tribes in the region. In addition to Tapirapé loans shared by all Karajá dialects, a few loans are restricted to the Javaé dialect, corroborating oral traditions of both tribes indicating that the ancestors of present-day Javaé and Tapirapé would have lived together in the interior of Bananal Island, the heart of Karajá traditional territory. In the 1940s, following a drastic populational drop resulting from attacks by the Kaiapó (a Northern Jê tribe), the surviving Tapirapé came to live near a Northern Karajá village at the mouth of the Tapirapé River. From relatively sporadic, contact between both tribes came to become permanent, resulting in many interethnic marriages characterized by a situation of domestic bilingualism with relative equilibrium between both languages. In addition to providing a wealth of information on the history of both tribes, the study of the mutual influences between Karajá and Tapirapé may provide an opportunity for a methodological exercise on how to “peel apart” the different layers of language contact.

Palavras-chaves: language contact, Amazonian languages

Autores: Neiva Praça, Walkíria (Universidade de Brasília, Brazil / Brasilien)
Co-Autores: Ribeiro, Eduardo (Instituto Nimuendajú, Baltimore, Ud States of Am / USA)

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