Foto: Adelino de Lucena Mendes, 2002


  • Other names
    Canoe, Kapixaná, Kapixanã
  • Where they are How many

    RO319 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family



The Kanoê language, also referred to as Kapixaná (Kapishana) or Kapixanã, is presently spoken by only seven people. In the southern region of Rondônia, there are still 40 indigenous languages surviving, most of which are related to eight macrofamilies, and various "isolated" languages, that is, languages for which there still have not been discovered consistent evidence of kinship with other languages or language families.

Of the seven speakers of Kanoê, three elderly people inhabit the region of the banks of the Guaporé River, characterized, as has been said, by an ancient and intense contact with the regonal population, given that most members of the group (around 87 people in 2002) only speak Portuguese. The group of the Omerê, on the other hand, contacted in 1995, is reduced to a single family of four monolingual speakers of Kanoê.

The Kanoê language has been classified as "isolated" (see Rodrigues: 1986 and Adelaar: 1991), although Greenberg (1990: 34, 49,55) tries to relate it to Kunsa, and Price (1978) supposes it to be one of the languages of the Nambiquara family. In effect, Greenberg (1997: 94-98) presents a few bits of evidence that Kanoê may belong to the Macro-Tucanoan trunk, but which are insufficient to prove such a classification. From the typological point of view, Kanoê is a morphologically agglutinative language, such that the words - principally the verbs - are formed by sequences of meaningful particles.