Mura language

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Region Amazon
Ethnicity 1,500 Mura people (1995)[1]
Native speakers
360 (2000)[1]
mostly monolingual[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 myp Pirahã (Mura)
Linguist list
ffg Bohura (not ISO)
  cvf Yahahi (not ISO)
Glottolog pira1253[2]
The attested extent of Mura and Matanawi

Mura is a language of Amazonas, Brazil. It is famous for Pirahã, its remaining dialect. Linguistically, it is typified by agglutinativity, a very small number of phonemes (11 compared to over 40 in English), whistled speech, and the use of tone.

In the 19th century, there were an estimated 30,000–60,000 Mura. It is now spoken by only 300 Pirahã people in eight villages.


Since at least Barboza Rodrigues (1892), there have been three ethnic names commonly listed as dialects of Mura, or even as Muran languages. The names are:

  • Bohurá, or Buxwaray, the original form of the name 'Mura'
  • Pirahã, or Pirahá, Pirahán, the name the remaining dialect goes by
  • Yahahí, also spelled Jahahi

On the basis of a minuscule amount of data, it would appear that Bohurá (Mura proper) was mutually intelligible with Pirahã; however, for Yahahí we have only ethnographic information, and can only assume they spoke the same language as other Mura.

The Mura/Bohurá endonym is Buhuraen, according to Barboza Rodrigues (1892), or Buxivaray ~ Buxwarahay, according to Tastevin (1923). This was pronounced Murá by their neighbors, the Torá and Matanawi. In his vocabulary, Rodrigues lists Bohura for the people and bhurai-ada 'Mura language' for the language, from the Mura of the Manicoré River; Tastevin has Bohurai and bohuarai-arase for the same. They also record,

nahi buxwara araha 'That one is Mura'
yane abahi araha buxwardi 'We are all Mura'[3]

Genealogical relations

Mura is often proposed to be related to Matanawí. Kaufman (1994) also suggests a connection with Huarpe in his Macro-Warpean proposal.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mura at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pirahã". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Caution: these words need to be confirmed. The scanned text of Nimuendaju (1948) at the link has several errors, such as ⟨c⟩ for ⟨e⟩, ⟨h⟩ for ⟨b⟩, and ⟨d⟩ for ⟨á⟩.


External links