Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Cahuapanan group (Cahuapanan family).

Languages included: Shiwilu (Jebero) [kwp-jeb]; Shawi (Chayahuita) [kwp-chy].


Valenzuela 2011 = Valenzuela Bismarck, Pilar. Contribuciones para la reconstrucción del Proto-Cahuapana: comparación léxica y gramatical de las lenguas jebero y chayahuita. In: ARU, SIMI, TAQU, LENGUA: Estudios en homenaje a Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino (eds.: Willem F. H. Adelaar and Pilar Valenzuela Bismarck and Roberto Zariquiey Biondi), pp. 271–304. Lima: Fondo Editorial, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. // A pioneer work dedicated to the phonological reconstruction of Proto-Cahuapanan. Comparanda are extremely limited. The proposed reconstruction does not shed much light on syllable codas and non-trivial correspondences between vowels.

I. Shiwilu

DSCCS = Valenzuela Bismarck, Pilar. Kirkaʼ Lawerʼllaʼlaʼ Ñak. Diccionario shiwilu-castellano, castellano-shiwilu. Draft version. Available online at <> // A rather comprehensive dictionary of Shiwilu. Each entry contains an example of usage.

Madalengoitia 2013 = Madalengoitia Barúa, María Gracia. Bosquejo fonológico de la lengua jebero (shiwilu). Master's thesis. Lima, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. // A short description of Shiwilu phonology. The words are cited without any context.

II. Shawi

Hart 1988 = Hart, Helen. Diccionario chayahuita-castellano. Canponanquë nisha nisha nonacaso'. Lima: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano. Serie Lingüística Peruana No. 29. // A dictionary of Shawi with a short grammatical description; some entries are accompanied by examples.


I. Shiwilu.

Shiwilu is a critically endangered language spoken by approximately 30 people in and around the village of Jeberos (District of Jeberos, Province of Alto Amazonas, Loreto Region, Perú).

The data from [DSCCS] and [Madalengoitia] are normally in accordance (slight differences concerning glottalization are present).

The transcription used in the database is phonetic. Stress and preglottalization are fully predictable and not indicated, though. The correspondences between the orthography and the transcription are presented below.

UTS Orthography Comments
p p
b p after m {n}
m m
w w
t t
d t after n {n}
n n in onsets
m n before b {p}
ɲ n syllable-finally ǯ {ch}
ŋ n syllable-finally before a pause, a nasal consonant or g {k}
s s
ɾ r
ɾʼ r'
l l
ð d a denti-alveolar (not interdental) approximant
č ch
ǯ ch after ɲ {n}
š sh
ʎ ll
-ʎʎ- ll after ɘ {e}
y y
k k preglottalized in coda position after ɘ {e}
g k after ŋ {n}
ʔ '
a a
u u
i i
ɘ e

II. Shawi.

Shawi is spoken by several thousand people in the Province of Alto Amazonas, Loreto Region, Perú between the Marañón and Huallaga rivers and the eastern slopes of the Andes.

Preaspiration is not indicated in the orthography; however, its presence is noted by underlying the preceding vowel in the Shawi-Spanish part of the dictionary. The correspondences between the transcription and the orthography are as follows:

UTS Orthography
p p
m m
w hu
t t
n n
ɾ r
č ch
š sh
y y
k k
h no graphical representation
ʔ '
a a
i i
u o
ɨ̃ ën

III. Proto-Cahuapanan.

The reconstruction is ours, based on the preliminary reconstruction by [Valenzuela]. It is based on the following correspondences:

Proto-Cahuapanan Shiwilu Shawi
*p- p p, hp (intervocalically)
*m- m m
*w- w w
*t- t, č (before i) t, č (before i), ht/hč (intervocalically)
*n- n, ɲ (before i) n
*ɾ- l, ʎ (before i) n, ɾ (intervocalically)
*s- s s, š (before i)
*č- (?) č č, hč (intervocalically)
*š- š š
*y- ð y (*yɨ > i)
*k- k k, hk (intervocalically)
*kʷ- k
*-K (*-p, *-k) ʔ, k (after ɨ) ʔ, Ø (word-medially, except in the first syllable)
*-ʔ Ø ʔ, Ø (word-medially, except in the first syllable)
*-N (*-n, *-m) n nasalization
*a a a
*i i i, ɨ (if the following syllable contained *ɨ)
*u u u
ɘ ɨ, i (word-initially)
*r̩ ɘɾ ɨ, i (word-initially)


1) Regular morphophonological processes in Shiwilu (realization of syllable-coda n, developments like ɾɾ > ʎʎ or ɘɾʔ > ɘɾʼ, free variations like wɘ ~ u) are mostly not indicated in the table. The palatalization developments in both languages are poorly understood.

2) The vowel occurred only in closed syllables.

3) In most occurrences, *-K and -N cannot be safely identified with *k, *p, *n or *m. However, in some cases morphophonological alternations in Shawi (mostly archaic 3Sg possessive forms) can shed light on their phonetic quality.

4) The reconstructions from [Valenzuela] (including their numbers in the paper) are adduced when available. However, Valenzuela's phonological reconstructions suffer from a number of ad hoc solutions.

Database compiled and annotated by: André Nikulin (December 2015).