Piaroa–Saliban languages

The Saliban (Salivan) languages, also known as Piaroa–Saliban or Saliba–Piaroan, are a small proposed language family of the middle Orinoco Basin, which forms an independent island within an area of Venezuela and Colombia (northern llanos) dominated by peoples of Carib and Arawakan affiliation.

Colombia and Venezuela
Linguistic classificationJodï–Saliban?
  • Piaroa–Saliban

Family divisionEdit

A connection between the two primary divisions, Piaroan and Sáliba, is widely assumed but has not been demonstrated.[2] In addition, Hotï is "probably" related.[3]

Piaroan is a language or dialect cluster, consisting of Piaroa itself, Wirö (or "Maco"), and the extinct Ature. The Piaroa and Wirö both consider their languages to be distinct: they can understand each other, but not reliably.

Proposals have been put forth grouping the Hotï language (Jodï) with Piaroa–Saliban in a single Jodï–Saliban family.[4][5] Hotï was little known until recently and remains unclassified in most accounts. There is also a proposal for including Jodï–Saliban in the putative Duho stock.[6]

Zamponi (2017) observes some lexical resemblances between the Betoi language with Piaroa–Saliban, but considers the similarities to be due to areal influences.[7]


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for the Piaroa–Saliban languages.[8]

gloss Piaroa Maco Saliva
one yauotenéte niareti sinote
two tonerima tagus toxera
three wabodexkuána perkotahuya kenxuapadi
head tsú yio
eye chiere pakuté
tooth tsaxká oayá
man uba umbei
water ahiya ahia kagua
fire uxkude egusta
sun morho gama numeseki
maize ñamo imó yamo
jaguar ñáwi impué


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Saliban". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Aikhenvald & Dixon, 1999, The Amazonian Languages
  3. ^ Zent S & E Zent. 2008. Los Hoti, in Aborigenes de Venezuela, vol. 2, second edition [1]
  4. ^ Rosés Labrada, Jorge Emilio. 2015. "Is Jodï a Sáliban Language?." Paper presented at the Workshop on Historical relationships among languages of the Americas, Leiden, 2-5 September 2015. 18pp.
  5. ^ Rosés Labrada, Jorge Emilio (2019). "Jodï-Sáliban: A Linguistic Family of the Northwest Amazon". International Journal of American Linguistics. 85 (3): 275–311. doi:10.1086/703238.
  6. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo (2016), Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas., Brasilia: UnB. PhD Dissertation.
  7. ^ Zamponi, Raoul (2017). Betoi-Jirara, Sáliban, and Hod i: Relationships among Three Linguistic Lineages of the Mid-Orinoco Region. Anthropological Linguistics, Volume 59, Number 3, Fall 2017, pp. 263-321.
  8. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.


  • 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.

External linksEdit