|Native to||Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago|
Warao (also known as Guarauno, Guarao, Warrau) is the native language of the Warao people. A language isolate, it is spoken by about 33,000 people primarily in northern Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. It is notable for its unusual object–subject–verb word order. The 2015 Venezuelan film Gone with the River was spoken in Warao.
The language had an estimated 28,100 speakers in Venezuela as of 2007. The Warao people live chiefly in the Orinoco Delta region of northeastern Venezuela, with smaller communities in southwestern Trinidad (Trinidad and Tobago), western Guyana and Suriname. The language is considered endangered by UNESCO.
Warao phonology is similar to that of Japanese. The Warao consonant inventory is relatively simple:
[b] and [d, l̆] are allophones of /p/ and /ɾ/. There are five oral vowels /a, ɛ, i, ɔ, u/ and five nasal vowels /ã, ẽ, ĩ, õ, ũ/. /u/ after /k/ within the beginning of words has a sound as [ɨ].
Warao appears to be a language isolate, unrelated to any recorded language in the region or elsewhere. Terrence Kaufman (1994) included it in his hypothetical Macro-Paezan family, but the necessary supporting work was never done. Julian Granberry connected many of the grammatical forms, including nominal and verbal suffixes, of Warao to the Timucua language of North Florida, also a language isolate. However, he has also derives Timucua morphemes from Muskogean, Chibchan, Paezan, Arawakan, and other Amazonian languages, suggesting multi-language creolization as a possible explanation for these similarities. This notion has met with skepticism and described by Lyle Campbell as "in no way convincing".
Granberry also finds "Waroid" vocabulary items in Guajiro (from toponymic evidence it seems that the Warao or a related people once occupied Goajiro country) and in Taino (nuçay/nozay [nosái] "gold" in Ciboney — cf. Warao naséi símo "gold" (lit. "yellow pebble") — and duho "ceremonial stool" in Classic Taino — cf. Warao duhu "sit, stool"). Granberry & Vescelius (2004) note that toponymic evidence suggests that the pre-Taino Macorix language of Hispaniola and the Guanahatabey language of Cuba may have been Waroid languages as well.
|Warao language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Warao language.|