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Irantxe language

Native toBrazil
RegionMato Grosso
Ethnicity400 Irantxe and Mỹky (Manoki) (2019) [1]
Native speakers
8 (2019) [2]
  • Münkü
Language codes
ISO 639-3irn

Irantxe (Iranxe, Iranshe), also known as Münkü (Mỹky), is an indigenous American language that is spoken in Mato Grosso, Brazil, by about 200 people. It is generally left unclassified due to lack of data. The most recent descriptions treat it as a language isolate, saying that it "bears no similarity with other language families" (Arruda 2003), though this may not be based on new data (Monserrat 2010).

Monserrat (2010) is a well-reviewed grammar.


As of 2011, the 280 Irantxe (Iránxe, Iranche, Manoki, Munku) have largely assimilated to Brazilian culture. Most are monolingual in Portuguese, and the remaining Irantxe speakers are over 50 years old. A splinter group, the Mỹky (Mynky, Münkü, Munku, Menku, Kenku, Myy), however, moved to escape assimilation, and were isolated until 1971. As of 2011, there were 80 ethnic Mỹky, all of whom spoke the language.

Language contact

Jolkesky (2016) notes that there are lexical similarities with the Arawak, Tupi, Chapakura-Wañam, Nambikwara, and Yanomami language families due to contact.[4]


Monserrat posits a series of palatalized stops. For several reasons, however, reviewer D’Angelis (2011) suggests these are simply /Cj/ sequences.

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop p t k ʔ
Fricative s h
Approximant w l~r j

/m/ is optionally [mb] word initially, especially among the Irantxe: muhu [mbuhu], mjehy [mbjɛhɨ]. /s/ is pronounced [ʃ] before /j/. [r] and [l] are in free variation.

There are 28 vowels: Seven qualities, /i ɨ u ɛ ə ɔ a/, all appear long, short, and nasalized. The schwa, however, alternates with /ɛ/ in many words.

Syllables may be CjVC, though words may not end in a consonant. The role of tone is not clear.


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items.[5]

gloss Iranshe
one yamachí
two numá
head pemã
tongue akirente
hand mimãchxi
woman ekipu
water manaː
sun ileheː
maize kuratu
white nakatá

For a more extensive vocabulary list of Irantxe by Holanda (1960),[6] see the corresponding Portuguese article.


  1. ^ "Irántxe (Manoki Tribe)". Vice.
  2. ^ "Irántxe (Manoki Tribe)". Vice.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Irántxe-Münkü". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas (Ph.D. dissertation) (2 ed.). Brasília: University of Brasília.
  5. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.
  6. ^ Holanda Pereira, Adalberto. 1960. Vocabulário da língua dos índios irántxe. Revista de Antropologia 12:105-115.

Further reading

  • Meader, R. E. (1967). Iranxe: Notas Grammaticais e Lista Vocabular. (Publicacações: Série Diversos Lingüística, 2.) Brasil: Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.
  • Monserrat, R. F.; Amarante, E. R. (1995). Dicionário Mỹky-Português. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Sepeei/SR-5/UFRJ.
  • Monserrat, Ruth. 2010. A lingua do povo Myky.
  • D’Angelis, Wilmar. 2011. Review of Monserrat (2010). LIAMES – Línguas Indígenas Ameríndias, vol 10.
  • Anonby, Stan. 2009. A Report on the Irantxe and Myky.
  • Fabre, Alain. 2005. Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos: Iránxe.[1]
  • Arruda, Rinaldo. 2003. Iranxe Manoki. Instituto Socioambiental.
  • Dixon & Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (eds.), The Amazonian languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-521-57021-2.