Foto: Maria Cristina Troncarelli, 2000

Trumai

  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MT258 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Trumái

Language

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The Trumai language is considered isolated, that is, it does not show genetic kinship with any other language of the Xingu nor with other known linguistic families. The present situation of the Trumai language is quite delicate, for there are few speakers and unfortunately the children are no longer learning to speak the language in daily life, which means that there is a great risk that it may come to disappear. Most of the Trumai children speak Aweti, Suyá or Portuguese as a first language.

The fact that the speakers live dispersed in different places produces even greater complications, for contact among them - and consequently, the use of the Trumai language - is becoming more and more reduced. Several efforts are being made to change the present situation, notably educational work of indigenous teachers. Through their classes, they try to stimulate the younger generation to go back to using Trumai in their daily activities. The teachers have also organized a book, which was published in 2002, with the assessment of the ISA staff for teaching the Trumai language as a second language. But this is a long-term work, which requires not only the efforts of the teachers but also the participation of the community as a whole.

trumai_6

Analyzing the vocabulary of the Trumai language, one can verify the presence of several borrowings from Kamayurá, which can be explained by the fact that perhaps Kamayura was a lingua franca on the upper Xingu, a means of communication between linguistically distinct groups. More probable, however, is that the strong influence of the Kamayurá language on Trumai occured as a result of interethnic marriages.

In relation to more recent cultural changes, one can also observe the presence of various borrowings from Portuguese to name objects introduced by the whites: aros ("arroz", rice), asuka ("açúcar", sugar), kopu ("copo", cup), motó ("barco a motor", motorboat). In some cases, the borrowing from Portuuguese could be expressed as a neologism in Trumai. For example, kopeta ("coberta", covered) or mape kwach ("instrumento de cobrir", covering instrument), kafe ("café", coffee) or su dat´-ke ("suco que é preto", juice that is black).