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Shawi (Chayahuita)

  • Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia (a1), Andrés Napurí (a2) and Lei Wang (a3)


Shawi1 is the language of the indigenous Shawi/Chayahuita people in Northwestern Amazonia, Peru. It belongs to the Kawapanan language family, together with its moribund sister language, Shiwilu. It is spoken by about 21,000 speakers (see Rojas-Berscia 2013) in the provinces of Alto Amazonas and Datem del Marañón in the region of Loreto and in the northern part of the region of San Martín, being one of the most vital languages in the country (see Figure 1).2 Although Shawi groups in the Upper Amazon were contacted by Jesuit missionaries during colonial times, the maintenance of their customs and language is striking. To date, most Shawi children are monolingual and have their first contact with Spanish at school. Yet, due to globalisation and the construction of highways by the Peruvian government, many Shawi villages are progressively westernising. This may result in the imminent loss of their indigenous culture and language.



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Journal of the International Phonetic Association
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Rojas-Berscia et al. supplementary material
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