In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Tupian Languages

  • Introduction
  • Tupian Bibliographies
  • Books on the Tupian Stock
  • Grammatical Sketches
  • Languages in Contact

Linguistics Tupian Languages
Aryon Dall'Igna Rodrigues, Ana Suelly Arruda Câmara Cabral
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 January 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0166


The Tupian stock is a well-established South American linguistic genetic group. The antiquity of archeological evidence, the concentration of different Tupian families on a geographical area, and the linguistic divergences across Tupian families are the main evidence for postulating that the original Tupian homeland is the area between the confluence of the Mamoré and the Aripuanã rivers in the Madeira River Basin. The Madeira River is the biggest tributary of the Amazon, and this area corresponds to the Brazilian state of Rondonia, where the speakers of Proto-Tupí started diversifying around five thousand years ago. Rodrigues and Cabral 2012 (cited under Linguistic Reconstruction) highlights the evidence from linguistic reconstructive lexical-semantic data, and from archeological findings accounting for the view that the earlier Tupian speakers were typically Amazonian peoples, culturally well adapted to life in the rain forest of tropical South America. The Tupian stock is one of the largest South American genetic groups of languages, strongly differentiated, comprising nearly seventy languages, distributed into ten linguistic families, whose geographical distribution divide them into two branches: (i) the western branch, integrated by the Mondé, Puruborá, Ramaráma, Tuparí, and Arikém families, and (ii) the eastern branch, integrated by the Jurúna, Mundurukú, Mawé, Awetí, and Tupí-Guaraní families. The extraordinary geographical dispersion of Tupí-Guaraní speakers makes the Tupian languages the most diffused in lowland South America, with representative languages in French Guiana, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil.

Tupian Bibliographies

Fabre 2005 and Dietrich 2002 are the existing bibliographies on Tupian languages. Both bibliographies present a state-of-the-art of the Tupian stock, Fabre 2005 being the most complete and useful for information on each language family.

  • Dietrich, Wolf. 2002. Listado y ensayo de clasificación de las lenguas indígenas de las Américas.

    This is a bibliography on South American Indian languages in general with a section on the Tupian stock. This section contains a general bibliography, which is followed by a list of publications for each family, as well as for each language.

  • Fabre, Alain. 2005. Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos.

    The most complete Tupian bibliography. The introduction is followed by a general bibliography covering different areas in the domain of Tupian languages and cultures. The introduction is followed by a specific bibliography for each Tupian language, alphabetically organized. Each language entry contains, besides the bibliography information available on the languages, its different names, its speakers’ location, and demographic information.

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