Interpreting mismatches between linguistic and genetic patterns among speakers of Tanimuka (Eastern Tukanoan) and Yukuna (Arawakan)

Leonardo Arias*, Nicholas Q. Emlen, Sietze Norder, Nora Julmi, Magdalena Lemus Serrano, Thiago Chacon, Jurriaan Wiegertjes, Austin Howard, Matheus C. B. C. Azevedo, Allison Caine, Saskia Dunn, Mark Stoneking, Rik Van Gijn

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Northwestern Amazonia is home to a great degree of linguistic diversity, and the human societies in that region are part of complex networks of interaction that predate the arrival of Europeans. This study investigates the population and language contact dynamics between two languages found within this region, Yukuna and Tanimuka, which belong to the Arawakan and Tukanoan language families, respectively. We use evidence from linguistics, ethnohistory, ethnography and population genetics to provide new insights into the contact dynamics between these and other human groups in NWA. Our results show that the interaction between these groups intensified in the last 500 years, to the point that it is difficult to differentiate between them genetically. However, this close interaction has led to more substantial contact-induced language changes in Tanimuka than in Yukuna, consistent with a scenario of language shift and asymmetrical power relations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages15
    JournalInterface Focus
    Volume13
    Issue number1
    Early online date9-Dec-2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 6-Feb-2023

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