Foto: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, 1991


  • Autodenominação
  • Where they are How many

    PA467 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

Name and Language


The name "Araweté," invented by a Funai woodsman, means nothing in the group’s language. The only word which could be taken as self-determination is bïde, which means "we," "our people," "human beings." All humans are bïde, but humans par excellence are the Araweté. The other indigenous peoples and the whites (kamarã) are awi, the "strangers" or "the enemy."


The Araweté language belongs to the great Tupi-Guarani family. It is not an easy-to-learn language: its prosody is heavily nasal, the pace is quick and there are sounds which are difficult for the native Portuguese speaker to replicate. Syntax and morphology are quite different than those of Indo-European languages: there are several series of personal pronouns, there are verbal phrases which have no Portuguese equivalent. On the other hand, it is easy to recognize in the Araweté language the legacy of a number of words that Tupi-Guarani left to Brazilian Portuguese, be it in common vernacular, be it in regional jargon, be it in names of places.

The adult Araweté population is practically monolingual: only the young born prior to or immediately following contact understand and speak a little Portuguese. Within a few years, however, most Araweté will be bilingual.