|Ethnicity||3,600 Karajá people (2007)|
Karajá, also known as Ynã, is spoken by the Karajá people in some thirty villages in central Brazil. Dialects are North Karaja, South Karaja, Xambioá, and Javaé. There are distinct male and female forms of speech; one of the principal differences is that men drop the sound /k/, which is pronounced by women.
Karajá has eleven oral vowels, /i, ɪ, e, ɛ, ɨ, ə, a, u, ʊ, o, ɔ/, and three nasal vowels, /ĩ ə̃ õ/. /a/ is nasalized word initially and when preceded by /h/ or a voiced stop: /aθi/ → [ãθi] 'grass', /ɔha/ → [ɔhã] 'armadillo'; this in turn nasalizes a preceding /b/ or /d/: /bahadu/ → [mãhãdu] 'group', /dadi/ → [nãdi] 'my mother'.
|Mid||e||ə, ə̃||o, õ|
V → [+ATR] / _ (C)-V[+ATR]
There are only twelve consonants, eight of which are coronal:
Some examples of the differences between men's and women's speech, especially the presence or lack of /k/ (including in borrowings from Portuguese), follow. Note that men maintain /k/ in at least one grammatical ending.
|kaɾitʃa-kɾe||aɾia-kɾe||I will walk*|
(from Portuguese domingo)
* The /itʃa/ derives historically from *ika, and so becomes /ia/ in men's speech.
The verb in Karajá grammar always agrees with the subject of the sentence, as it does in French for example; these agreements are determined by the past and present tense (also known as realis) or future, potential, and admonitory tenses (also known as irrealis). Verbs have no lexical opposites (such as in vs. out) and direction is represented through inflection; all Karajá verbs can inflect for direction. Verbs are either transitive or intransitive and the valence of each verb, therefore, may increase or decrease depending on their status as transitive or intransitive.
Nouns can be incorporated into verbs to create noun-verb compounds with the noun being placed into the verb. Any noun can be turned into a verb with the use of a suffix and action nouns can be created with the use of the verb stem.
There are three personal pronouns:
dIarə̃ aõkõ, kai=ɗa I NEG you=ASSERT ‘Not me, but you instead.’
dIarə̃ aõkõ, kai=ɗa I NEG you=ASSERT ‘Not me, but you instead.’
ɗəkI ɔhã ∅-r-I-r=ɔ=kõ=r-e he armadillo 3CTFG-TRANS-eat=NEG=CTFG-IMPERF ‘He doesn’t eat armadillo.’
These pronouns can be pluralized with the use of the pluralizer ‘boho’. When pluralized, the first person plural has both an inclusive and exclusive interpretation as in the following examples (Ribeiro 2012):
dIərə̃ boho kədʊra a-r-I-rɔ=rɛdə̃=kre I PL fish 1-CTFG-TRANS-eat=CTFG-PL=FUT We (exclusive) will eat fish
idə̃ boho kədʊra rək-I-rɔ=r-ɛdə̃=kre Karajá PL fish 1PL.INCL.-TRANS-eat=POT We (inclusive) eat fish
Possessive pronouns are not used but are Instead marked by affixes (ie. wa- = ‘my’) and there are two demonstrative pronouns:
Direction in the Karajá language does not have any lexical opposites. Lexical opposites are words that have opposite meanings (Summer Institute of Linguistics 2004), such as in and out or go and come. Direction, rather, is marked by a set of prefixes that determine whether the event in the sentence is happening away from or toward the speaker. Centrifugal direction (away from the speaker) is characterized by a marking of the prefix r- while centripetal direction (toward the speaker) is characterized by a marking of the prefix d-. Since all the verbs in the Karajá language can have direction, direction becomes its own category of inflection. Inflection in this case refers to the addition of a letter/letters to words to change its grammatical form (i.e. car > cars) (Frankfurt International School n.d.). The phenomenon of direction can be seen in the following example (Ribeiro 2012):
rurure ∅-r-∅-ʊrʊ=r-e 3-CTFG-INTR-die=CTFG-IMP He died (there)
durude ∅-d-∅-ʊrʊ=d-e 3-CTPT-INTR-die=CTPT-IMP He died (here)
Valence is defined as the number of arguments that a verb takes on, while an argument is defined as any syntactic element that completes the meaning of a verb (About 2016). The sentence ‘Elizabeth cried’, for example, can have its valence increased through the following sentence, ‘John made Elizabeth cry’, where ‘John made’ serves as an expression which adds to the original sentence (‘Elizabeth cried’). The Karajá language is characterized both by the reduction of valence and by the increase in valence. Valence increase happens through causitivization and through oblique promotion while valence decrease happens through reflixivatization, passivization, and antipassivization (Ribeiro 2012).
Causitavization occurs when an argument is introduced in a sentence that serves to function as a causer. As an example, in the sentence above (‘John made Elizabeth cry’), John is introduced as the causer of Elizabeth crying. Causitivatization is present in the Karajá language through the causitavizer -dəkə̃ and the verbalizer -də̃, shown in the following example (Ribeiro 2012):
habu kʊladʊ ririradəkə̃nə̃rɛrI habu kʊladʊ ∅-r-I-rira-dəkə̃-də̃=r-ɛri man child 3-CTFG-walk-CAUS-VERB=CTFG-PROGR ‘The man is making the child walk’
The man in this example is the causer who makes the child, the causee, walk.
In reflexivity, the subject and object participants become identical (Booij et. al 2004) and, thus, the valence decreases. Reflexivity in the Karajá language is characterized by the use of two reflexive morphemes, eʃi- and iʃi- (Ribeiro 2012):
dIkarə̄ ka-re-eʃi-θʊhɔ=kəre I 1-CTFG-REFL-wash=FUT ‘I will wash myself.’
Habu iʃi=bə̄ ∅-r-∅-obi=r-e Man REFL=LOC 3-CTFG-INTR-see=CTFG-IMPERF ‘The man saw himself.’
In this case, I – myself (1st example) and man – himself (2nd example) refer to the same individual.
Passives are described as the change of a sentence from a transitive sentence to an intransitive sentence through the demotion of the subject. Passive verbs are marked either by the prefix a- or by a zero allomorph (∅), depending on the verb (Ribeiro 2012):
d-ãdI wa-ɗəkɨ ∅-r-I-∅ʊhɔ=r-ɛrI REL-mother 1-clothes 3-CTFG-TRANS-wash=CTFG-PROGR ‘My mother is washing my clothes.’
wa-ɗəkɨ ∅-r-a-∅ʊhɔ=r-ɛrI 1-clothes 3-CTFG-PASS-wash=CTFG-PROGR ‘My clothes are being washed.’
Here, the subject ‘mother’ is demoted in the second example.
Antipassives, on the other hand, result in the deletion of an unknown or irrelevant direct object and are characterized by the use of the prefix ɔ- (Ribeiro 2012):
d-ādI ∅-r-ɔ-θʊhɔ=rɛrI REL-mother 3-CTFG-ANTI-wash=CTFG-PROGR ‘My mother is washing (something).’
In this example, the object that is being washed is omitted from the sentence.
When referring to nouns, plurality is expressed through three processes: reduplication, the pluralizer –boho, and the use of the noun bãhãdʊ (people, group). In the context of verbs, plurality is marked through the use of the pluralizer -ɛdə̃.
Reduplication refers to the repetition of word categories to convey a certain meaning. In the case of the Karajá language, reduplication occurs with nouns and is used to convey plurality (Ribeiro 2012):
irɔdʊ irɔdʊ irɔdʊ animal animal animal ‘animal’ ‘animals’
The pluralizer –boho is used to pluralize the three personal pronouns (♀ dIkarə̃ ♂ dIarə̃ - ‘I’, kai - ‘you’, and ♀ ɗəkI ♂ ɗII – ‘he, she, it’) (Ribeiro 2012):
dIərə̃ oho kədʊra a-r-I-rɔ=rɛdə̃=kre I PL fish 1-CTFG-TRANS-eat=CTFG-PL=FUT We (exclusive) will eat fish
idə̄ boho kədʊra rək-I-rɔ=r-ɛdə̃=kre Karajá PL fish 1PL.INCL.-TRANS-eat=POT We (inclusive) eat fish
In addition, the above examples show how the pluralizer –boho, when combined with the noun for people (idə̄), functions as a first person plural inclusive pronoun to include those outside of a specific group. According to Ribeiro, idə̄ serves the same function as the phrase a gente, commonly found throughout Brazilian Portuguese (Ribeiro 2012).
In contrast to the pluralizer –boho, the noun word bãhãdʊ is not used with pronouns but rather functions as a noun to pluralize a group of people, as shown in the following example (Ribeiro 2012):
idə̄ bãhãdʊ ɗabə̃ ∅-r-a-ɔrʊ-də̃=r-e people group 3.AL 3-CTFG-INTR-run-VERB=CTFG-IMPRF ‘Firing their guns, the Karajá ran after them, it is said.’
In the above sentence, ‘Karajá’ (people- idə̄) becomes pluralized through the use of bãhãdʊ.
As mentioned above, the pluralizer -ɛdə̃ functions to pluralize verbs as shown in the following example from Ribeiro’s article (2012):
ɗamə̄le dɔIdɛnə̄de ɗuidʒɨɨmə̄ ɗabə̄=le ∅-d-∅-ɔI=d-ɛdə̄=d-e dʊ=idʒɨɨ=bə̄ 3. AL=EMPH 3-CTPT-move(PL)=CTPT-PLURAL=CTPT-IMP 3.LOC=story=LOC ‘They came to him to tell the story.’
‘Came’, in this example, is pluralized to indicate that many individuals came.
Some examples of the differences between men's and women's speech, especially the presence or lack of /k/ (including in borrowings from Portuguese), follow:
|kaɾitʃakɾe||aɾiakɾe||I will walk*|
(from Portuguese domingo)
* The /itʃa/ derives historically from *ika
The first (♀ dIkarə̃ ♂ dIarə̃) and third (ɗəkI, ♂ optional male form: ɗII) person pronouns differ based on gender but the second person pronoun /kai/ is an exception to this rule, and is pronounced the same by men and women.
It is hypothesized (Ribeiro 2012) that in the past this process of the k-drop became a sign of masculinity and females resisted it in order to keep a more conservative form of speech.