|Ethnicity||19,500 Guajajara (2006), 820 Tembé (1999), 60 Turiwara (1998)|
Tenetehára is a Tupi–Guarani language of Brazil. Sociolinguistically, it is two languages, Guajajara (Guazazzara) and Tembe, though these are mutually intelligible. Tembe was spoken by less than a quarter of its ethnic population of 820 in 2000; Guajajara, on the other hand, is more robust, being spoken by two thirds of its 20,000 people.
Tenetehára speakers were first contacted in 1615 by a French expedition in the margins of the Pindaré river. They clashed against slaver raids until Jesuit missions were set up among them (1653-1755). After the Jesuits were expelled from Brazil, the various Tenetehára groups went back to a life with very limited contact with the settler society.
At the end of the 19th century the members of the community started to be employed as collectors of natural resources. After some abuse by white settlers in their vicinity, in 1901 the Guajajara group revolted against a nearby Capuchin missions and expelled them from their land. They have been in continuous conflict with clandestine loggers and illegal settlements in their land.
Tenetehára has a total of 21 phonemes: 14 consonants and 7 vowels. Each of the consonantal phonemes occurs as the initial C in CV and CVC syllables, while each of the vowels occurs as the nucleus in the four syllable patterns. Any phoneme of the class /t k m n ŋ w z r/ may occur in the syllable and word final C position, while /p kw c ŋw ' h/ are limited in their distribution in that they do not occur in the final C position. Similarly, /ŋ ŋw/ have a somewhat limited distribution in that they never occur word-initially.
Tenetehára has a verb-subject-object word order. 2 Verbs are marked with person prefixes that reference the subject of the clause:
u-suka Zezin arapuha
third.person-kill Zezin deer
"Zezin killed a deer."
There are three verb classes, corresponding to transitive, intransitive and stative verbs. Each of these has a different set of verbal prefixes to mark the subject.
Even though it is a verb-initial language, Tenetehára has postpositions instead of prepositions, as would be expected cross-linguistically:
o-ho Zezin ko pe
third.person-go Zezin field to
"Zezin goes to the field."
A small group of adverbial words, that relate the sentence to its context, can appear in the first position in the clause, followed by the verb and the rest of the sentence.
aipo o-ho ko pe
maybe third.person-go field to
"Maybe he went to the field."
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