Foto: Geraldo Silva, 2000

Yudjá/Juruna

  • Autodenominação
    Yudja
  • Where they are How many

    MT880 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Juruna

Language

yudja_4

The Yudjá speak a Tupian language that is classified as part of the Juruna linguistic family, which includes the now extinct languages once spoken by the Arupaia, Xipaia, Peapaia, Aoku (not identified), and Maritsawá peoples.  Culturally, they are closely related to groups that speak languages of the Tupi-Guarani family.  Yudjá oral traditions mention the substitution of some words in the Juruna language with ones used by the Shadí people (not identified).  Nimuendajú considered the languages of the Juruna family (as they were later classified) as an impure form of Tupi that had been subjected to influences from Arawak and Carib languages (besides borrowing words from the Língua Geral).

Not all Yudjá men over fifty years old speak Portuguese well, and perhaps only half of the adult women understand it reasonably well.  Probably some women can speak the language, but they never did so in my presence during nearly two years when I lived among them.  Boys begin to speak Portuguese in puberty.  With the introduction of bilingual schools in their villages, the girls' timidity will presumably break down soon, perhaps promoting a reconfiguration of gender relations and especially of the means of communication between Yudjá women and other indigenous peoples, which is currently very low.

In 1989, only one member of the Yudjá group in the Paquiçamba Reservation on the middle Xingu was able to communication in Juruna.  In the early 1970s, there was but one woman who spoke the only other remaining language of the Juruna linguistic family that survived into the twentieth century, Xipaia.  Spurred by the death of her language, she made a gift of personal names to the Juruna leader in the Upper Xingu.