Dâw language

Dâw is a Nadahup language spoken by about one hundred Dâw people in the northwestern part of Amazonas, Brazil, in an area commonly known as Alto Rio Negro. Most Dâw also speak Nheengatu and Portuguese.[1][2][3][4]

Native toBrazil
EthnicityDâw people
Native speakers
94 (2004)[1]
  • Dâw
  • Kurikuriaí (Kurikuriari)
Language codes
ISO 639-3kwa
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An extinct variety, Kurikuria(r)í, named after the Curicuriari River, was a distinct language sociolinguistically, but at least partially intelligible with Dâw.



Dâw has 15 vowels:[5]

Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
Close i, ĩ ɯ, ɯ̃ u, ũ
Close-mid ɵ ɤ o
Open-mid ɛ, ɛ̃ ɔ, ɔ̃
Open a, ã

Vowels are laryngealized when occurring beside a glottal stop, as seen in the examples below.[6]

/ʔɛʔ/ [ʔɛ̰́ʔ] "large mouth"
/nɯʔ/ [nɯ̰́ʔ] "to lack"

Vowel harmonyEdit

Vowel harmony in Dâw is seen primarily in two situations: in compounding and with the focus marker /-Vʔ/, where V indicates a vowel. When combining two words with the first word having the syllable structure CVC, vowel harmony is not seen, e.g. /pɔx/ "high" + /lã̌ʃ/ "boat" = /pɔxlã̌ʃ/ "airplane". However, when combining two words with the first word having the syllable structure CV, vowel harmony is seen, e.g. /xɔ̂/ "canoe" + /tɯm/ "eye" = /xɯtɯm/ "sun". The vowel of the focus marker /-Vʔ/ is the same as the vowel of the syllable it is appended to, e.g. /jɯ̂w/ "blood" + /-Vʔ/ = /jɯ̂wɯʔ/.[7]


Dâw has 25 consonants:[8]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive Voiced p t c k ʔ
Voiceless b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative ʃ x h
Nasal Plain m n ɲ ŋ
Glottalized ɲˀ
Approximant Plain l j w

Glottalized consonants are also laryngealized, as seen in the examples below.[6]

/wˀac/ [w̰ˀác̚] "oar"
/ʃělˀ/ [ʃěːl̰ˀ̚] "banana"

The plosive consonants have no audible release as codas, e.g. /pɤp/ "to kick" is realized as [pɤp̚], and /kɤɟ/ "to scratch with the nail" as [kʼɤc̚]. As onsets, /c/ and /k/ are realized as ejective consonants, i.e. [cʼ] and [kʼ], unlike the other plosive consonants, which are realized simply as plain consonants, e.g. [cʼóc̚] "without hair", [kʼɛ̃́k̚] "to hook".[9][10]


Stress is fixed in Dâw, occurring on the last syllable of a word. A few suffixes in Dâw do not take the stress, however. The suffixes are divided into two groups, metric suffixes and extrametric suffixes. The former follows the general rule of stress on the last syllable, while the latter does not. See the examples below, where /-ɔh/ is a metric suffix, and /-ĩh/ an extrametric suffix.[11]

[bɤ̀ˈjɤ̂ː] "to return"
[bɤ̀jɤ̂ːˈɔ́h] "return!"
[bɤ̀ˈjɤ̂ːĩ̀h] "is returning"


In Dâw there are either three or four tones, depending on analysis. There are a low tone, a high tone, a rising tone and a falling tone, marked by a grave accent, an acute accent, a caron and circumflex, respectively, but only the two latter are lexical. The low tone only occurs on syllables without stress, while the high tone only occurs on syllables with stress, and the rising and falling tones may occur on all syllables. As the low and high tones are not lexical, they are often left unmarked, as in /tɤɡ/ "tooth", which really is realized as [tɤ́ɡ̚].[11]

Besides the lexical function of tone, tone may also function morphologically and syntactically. Consider the examples below, the first being morphological and the second being syntactical, showing how tone is used in a derivative manner and how tone is used to differentiate intransitive from transitive verbs.[12]

[wɛ̂d̚] "to eat"
[wɛ̌d̚] "food"
[cʼɔ́ᵇm] "to bathe (oneself)"
[cʼɔ̂ːᵇm] "to bathe (someone)"

Vowel length is predictable and present in Dâw, yet not distinctive lexically. All vowels with a rising or falling tone are long, while all vowels without a tone are short.[5]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b Martins 2004, p. 1
  2. ^ Martins 2004, p. 4
  3. ^ Martins 2005, p. 22
  4. ^ Epps, Patience (2008), A Grammar of Hup, Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter, p. 4
  5. ^ a b Martins 2004, p. 55
  6. ^ a b Martins 2005, p. 52
  7. ^ Martins 2005, pp. 53–54
  8. ^ Martins 2004, p. 16
  9. ^ Martins 2004, pp. 24–27
  10. ^ Martins 2005, pp. 29–30
  11. ^ a b Martins 2005, pp. 46–48
  12. ^ Martins 2005, p. 50