Maku-Auari language

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Not to be confused with other Maku languages
Native to Roraima, Brazil
Region Brazilian–Venezuelan border
Extinct 2000–2002
Kalianan ?
  • Maku-Auari
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xak (proposed[1])
Glottolog maku1246[2]
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Maku or Mako (Spanish Macú, Portuguese Máku) is an unclassified language spoken on the BrazilVenezuela border in Roraima along the upper Uraricoera and lower Auari rivers, west of Boa Vista. 300 years ago, the Macu territory had been between the Padamo and Cunucunuma rivers to the southeast.

The last speaker died between 2000 and 2002. Aryon Rodrigues and Ernesto Migliazza have worked on the language, and there is enough material for a grammar, though as of 2010 this had not been published.


No proper name for the language is recorded. Macu is not a proper name, but rather an Arawakan term for unintelligible languages and people held in servitude in the Orinoco region. (See Maku people for a partial list.) The stress is typically given on the final syllable, Makú (Migliazza, Fabré). However, in order to distinguish the language of the Auari from the many other languages given this name, the stress is sometimes shifted to the first syllable: Máku (Maciel, Dixon & Aikhenvald) or Máko (Campbell & Grondona). The disambiguator Maku-Auari is used by Hammerström.[3]


Roraima Macu has six oral vowels, /i y ɨ u e a/, and four nasal vowels, /ĩ ũ ẽ ã/. Length is contrastive, but only on an initial CV syllable of a polysyllabic word. The most complex syllable is CCVC. There is no contrastive stress or tone.

Consonants are stops /p b t d k ʔ/, the affricate /ts/, fricatives /s ʃ x h/, nasals /m n/, the lateral "r" (perhaps /ɺ/?), and the approximants /w j/.


Macu is highly polysynthetic and predominantly suffixing. There is clusivity but no genders or classifiers. The TAM system is very complex.

Genetic relations

Suggested genetic relations involving Macu include

Kaufman (1990) finds the Kalianan proposal "promising", though he is now dated.


  • Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Campbell & Grondona (2012). The Indigenous Languages of South America
  • Dixon & Aikhenvald (1999). "Máku", in The Amazonian Languages (pp. 361–362)
  • Fabre, Alain. 2005. Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos: Makú.[2]
  • Kaufman, Terrence (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.
  • Koch-Grünberg, Theodor (1922). "Die Volkgruppierung zwischen Rio Branco, Orinoco, Rio Negro und Yapurá", in Festschrift Eduard Seler (pp. 205–266). Stuttgart.
  • Maciel, Iraguacema (1991). Alguns aspectos fonológicos e morfológicos da língua Máku. (Dissertation, Brasília: LALI, UnB)
  • Migliazza, Ernesto (1965). "Fonología Makú", Boletim do MPEG. Antropología 25:1–17.
———— (1966). "Esbôço sintático de um corpus da língua Makú", Boletim do MPEG. Antropología 32:1–38.
———— (1978). "Makú, Sapé and Uruak languages. Current status and basic lexicon", AL 20/3:133–140.


  1. [1]
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Máku". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "A note on the Maco [wpc] (Piaroan) language of the lower Ventuari, Venezuela". Cadernos de Etnolingüística volume 3, número 1, February 2011