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Documentation of Urgently Endangered Tupian Languages


Language Mondé (ISO639-3:mnd), Puruborá (ISO639-3:pur), Mekens (ISO639-3:skf), Ayuru (ISO639-3:wyr), Xipaya (ISO639-3:xiy)
Depositor Dennis Moore
Affiliation Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi/MCT
Location Brazil
Deposit ID 0233
Grant ID MDP0020
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the deposit

This collection will contain documentation of five of the most urgently endangered native languages of Brazil, which are under-researched as of yet. These languages are: Mondé, Puruborá, Mekens, Ayuru, and Xipaya. These five languages belong to the lesser-known branches of the Tupi family. Only two have received prior intensive research and none has adequate documentation available.

This collection was started with the following general objectives:

  • To salvage the maximum information about the language and about the traditional culture expressed through the language;
  • to make this information widely available for the community and for science, while respecting the wishes and rights of the native communities;
  • to establish reference grammars, dictionaries, collections of texts, and extensive and varied digitalized and annotated recordings;
  • to prepare practical language materials and copies of the recordings and transcriptions for the language communities.


Group represented

Mondé speakers, Puruborá community, Sakurabiat people (Mekens), Wayoró (Ayuru), Xipaya and Kuruaya people (Xipaya)


Language information

Mondé, Puruborá, Mekens, Ayuru, and Xipaya belong to the lesser-known branches of the Tupi family and are five of the most urgently, and possibly only surviving, endangered indigenous languages of Brazil. They are all spoken in the province of Rondônia.

Mondé (ISO-639: mnd) is spoken around the Apidia river near Pimenta Bueno, central Brazil, by an estimated 2-30 people. Alternate names include: Salamãi, Salamaikã, Sanamaica, Sanamaiká, Sanamaykã. It is said to be related to Arua (arx) and Gavião do Jiparaná (gvo).

Puruborá (ISO-693: pur) is spoken around the headwaters of the Rio São Miguel in central Brazil, by an estimated 2-200 people, mostly elderly. It is also known as Aurã, Cujubim, Burubora, Kuyubi, Migueleno, Miguelenho or Pumbora.

Mekens (ISO-693: skf) is spoken near the Mequens river in central Brazil, by an estimate 20-70 people who are reportedly all over 20 years old. Alternate names include: Mekém, Mekens, Sakirabiák, Sakirabiáp, Sakirabiát, Sakirap, Sakiriabar, and Sakurabiat.

Ayuru (ISO-639: wyr), a moribund Tupari language also known as Wayoró, is spoken by an estimated 8-77 people along the Guapore river.

Xipaya (ISO-639: xiy) is spoken by an estimated 2 elderly people in Pará, with a reported ethnic population of 600. Alternate names: Shipaja, Xipaia.


Special characteristics

An ethnographic consultant helped collect cultural information.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Moore, Dennis. 2013. Documentation of Urgently Endangered Tupian Languages. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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