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Shawi, Quechua and Spanish: a Sea of Languages

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  • UserLuis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics – Department for Language and Cognition World_link
  • ClockWednesday 27 January 2016, 17:15-19:00
  • HouseFaculty of English, Room GR-06/07.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Afra Pujol i Campeny.

Like most languages of South America, if not all, the Quechuan and Kawapanan languages are endangered. Regarding the first, the diversity inside this linguistic family is commonly neglected, and submerged into the label of “language”. As for the second, little to nothing has been studied about it until recently (Valenzuela 2011a,b, 2012, 2013; Rojas-Berscia 2013, 2015; Madalengoitia 2013; Farfán-Reto 2011). The first part of this talk will deal with their current sociolinguistic situation, the current role of the Peruvian State in the defence and revitalisation of these languages, and the attitudes of their speakers towards the use of these languages in daily life. I will address language endangerment, language contact and language mixing in these languages, based on my own in situ fieldwork research. The second part of the talk will focus more on the Kawapanan language family, especially on the assumed pragmatically-driven marking of the ergative case in Shiwilu and Shawi (Valenzuela 2011a), arguing for a rather syntactically driven explanation to this phenomenon.


Farfán Reto, Harold (2011). Clasificadores en shiwilu (jebero): organización semántica y morfosintáctica. Licenciate Thesis. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Available at:

Madalengoitia Barúa, María Gracia (2013). Bosquejo fonológico de la lengua jebero (shiwilu). Tesis de Licenciada en Lingüística y Literatura. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. Available at:

Rojas-Berscia, Luis Miguel (2013). La sintaxis y semántica de las construcciones causativas en el chayahuita de Balsapuerto. Licentiate Thesis. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Available at:

Rojas-Berscia, Luis Miguel (2015). “Mayna, the lost Kawapanan language”. In LIAMES , Línguas Indígenas Americanas, 15(2). UNICAMP , 393-407.

Valenzuela, Pilar M. (2011a). Argument encoding and pragmatic marking of the transitive subject in Shiwilu(Kawapanan). International Journal of American Linguistics 77(1): 91-120.

Valenzuela Bismarck, Pilar (2011b). Contribuciones para la reconstrucción del protocahuapana: Comparación léxica y gramatical de las lenguas jebero y chayahuita. In Willem F.H. Adelaar; Pilar Valenzuela Bismarck; Roberto Zariquiey Biondi (eds.). In Estudios sobre lenguas andinas y amazónicas. Homenaje a Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino, pp. 271-304. Lima: Fondo Editorial Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Valenzuela, Pilar (2012). La lengua shawi. Retrieved from

Valenzuela Bismarck, Pilar (2013). Diccionario Shiwilu-Castellano, Castellano-Shiwilu. Lima: FECONAJE .

Valenzuela, Pilar M. (2015). ¿Qué tan “amazónicas” son las lenguas kawapana? Contacto con las lenguas centroandinas y elementos para un área lingüística intermedia”. Lexis 39(1): 5-56. Lima: PUCP .

This talk is part of the Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group series.

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