8971 - A reconstruction of Proto-Mawetí-Guaraní

Recent studies agree that Sateré-Mawé, Awetí and the large Tupí-Guaraní family constitute together a larger branch of the Tupí language family, a branch we labelled “Mawetí-Guaraní”, as a shorthand for “Mawé-Awetí-Tupí-Guaraní”. A reconstruction of the presumed proto-language “Proto-Mawetí-Guaraní” (PMATG) would be an important step towards a gradual reconstruction of Proto-Tupí. This contribution presents results of an ongoing study of the author together with Sérgio Meira, aiming at precisely this goal within the Tupí Comparative Project at the Museu Goeldi. Based on the analysis of more than 400 cognate sets, we present the regular sound correspondences, propose a set of reconstructed phonemes and etymons for the proto-language and trace the development of these phonemes to the three sister languages Mawé, Awetí and Proto-Tupí-Guaraní, illustrated by the discussion of selected cognate sets. We also show results of morphological comparisons, in particular the systems of pronouns and verbal and nominal person marking. Our proposal differs in several aspects (premises and data basis, methods and results) from previous diachronic studies (in particular Corrêa da Silva 2011) and sheds an interesting new light on the so-called relational prefixes, which we assume to derive from originally allophonic variation of a particular stem-initial segment. The sound inventory of PMATG contains only 15 consonants (and unsurprisingly 6 oral and 6 nasal vowels) because we shy away from postulating proto-phonemes based on sound correspondences in only one or two cognate sets, which we present as irregularities some of which remain to be explained.

Keywords: Tupi-Guarani, Mawe, Aweti, reconstruction

Author: Drude, Sebastian (l, Lao / Lao)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575