Chimane language

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Native to Bolivia
Region western Amazon
Ethnicity Tsimané
Native speakers
5,300 (2004)[1]
Moseten–Chonan ?
  • Chimane
Tsimané (90%)
Santa Ana Mosetén
Covendo Mosetén
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cas
Glottolog mose1249[2]

Chimané (Tsimané) is a South American language. Some dialects are known as Mosetén (Mosetén of Santa Ana, Mosetén of Covendo). Chimane is a language of the western Bolivian lowlands spoken by the Tsimane peoples along the Beni River and the region around San Borja in the Department of Beni (Bolivia). Sakel (2004) [3] classifies them as two languages for a number of reasons, yet some of the variants of the language are mutually intelligible and they reportedly have no trouble communicating (Ethnologue 16) and were evidently a single language separated recently through cultural contact (Campbell 2000).


Mosetenan has no obvious relatives among the languages of South America. There is some lexicon shared with Puquina and the Uru–Chipaya languages, but these appear to be borrowings. Morris Swadesh suggested a Moseten–Chon relationship, which Suárez provided evidence for in the 1970s, and with which Kaufman (1990) is sympathetic.

Writing system

Chimane has been written since 1980 in a Spanish-based alphabet devised by Wayne Gill. It uses the additional letters ṕ, ć, q́u, tś, ćh, mʼ, nʼ, ä. It is widely used in publications and is taught in Chimane schools.[4]

In 1996, Colette Grinevald created an alphabet for Moseten and Chimane which used only those letters found on a Spanish keyboard. It included the multigraphs ph khdh ch chh tsh dh, and was adopted by the Moseten.[4]

Bolivian Law 3603 of 2007 Jan 17 recognizes the rights of the Chimane and Moseten to their language in all aspects of life in Bolivia, including education, and Chimane translation of policy which concerns them, and that written Chimane must use the unique Chimane(-Moseten) alphabet. However, it does not clarify which alphabet this is.[5]


  1. Chimane at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mosetén-Chimané". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Sakel, Jeanette (2004) A grammar of Mosetén. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sakel, Jeanette, Gender Agreement in Mosetén, with Crevels, Mily and Simon van de Kerke in Sérgio Meira, Hein van der Voort (Editors): Current Studies on South American Languages, Indigenous Languages of Latin America 3, Leyde, CNWS, 2002 ISBN 90-5789-076-3
  5. Ley 3603 de Enero 17 de 2007, declara patrimonio cultural, intangible de la nacion la lengua tsimane (chimane-mostene)
  • Adelaar, Wilhem (2004). The Languages of the Andes. Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Sakel, Jeanette (2009). Mosetén y Chimane (Tsimane’). In: Mily Crevels and Pieter Muysken (eds.) Lenguas de Bolivia, vol. I, 333-375. La Paz: Plural editores.
  • Sakel, Jeanette (2003). A Grammar of Mosetén (Thesis). University of Nijmegen.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>