Foto: Beto Ricardo, 2002

Xingu

  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

  • Linguistic family

Languages

Despite the intense exchange among different peoples of the Park, each maintains its own language. The following language families are represented in the Park:

  • Tupi-Guarani family (of the Tupi trunk): Kamayurá and Kaiabi
  • Juruna family(of the Tupi trunk): Yudjá (or Juruna)
  • Aweti family (of the Tupi trunk and with only one language): Aweti
  • Arawak family: Mehinako, Wauja and Yawalapiti
  • Karib family: Ikpeng, Kalapalo, Kuikuro, Matipu and Nahukwá
  • Jê family(of the Macro-Jê trunk): Suyá
  • Language not classified in any family: Trumai

 

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Portuguese is used as a contact language among the different ethnic groups, being spoken more fluently by the young men and adults. In recent times, the number of Portuguese speakers has been increasing and many young women are beginning to speak and understand the language. These days, with the large number of roads connecting the Xingu Park to the cities and ranches, many Indians circulate in the area around the Park, using the Portuguese language for commercial transactions and other forms of relationship with the regional population. Through television, which is present in nearly all the villages, they also learn Portuguese. Moreover, in the schools the indigenous teachers teach them to speak and write in Portuguese, although all classes are given in the native languages.

As far as the ability to speak more than one indigenous language, among the peoples of the Upper Xingu it is common that people understand the languages of their neighbors, even if they don’t know how to speak it, such that Indians of different groups occasionally have dialogues in which each one speaks his/her own language. Among the Kaiabi, Suyá and Yudjá there is also mutual comprehension, due to their living together in the same region and to intermarriages. Besides that, in all the villages of the Park, children and young people born of interethnic marriages customarily are fluent in the languages of both their parents. And there are young people who speak four or even five languages.