On the inclusion of the Karirí family in the Macro-Jê stock: additional evidence

[Presented at the 2011 SILLA Meeting, in Pittsburgh, Jan/2011]

The inclusion of the Karirí language family (whose members—Kipeá, Dzubukuá, Pedra Branca, and Sabuyá—were once spoken in the Brazilian northeast) in the Macro-Jê stock was first proposed by Rodrigues (1970, 1986), but is not accepted by other major classifications of South American languages (Mason 1950, Greenberg 1987, Kaufman 1994). Although Rodrigues’ hypothesis is based on rather suggestive pieces of grammatical evidence (Rodrigues 1992, 2000; Ribeiro 2002), it remains to be further corroborated by additional lexical and phonological comparison. Taking advantage of recent advances in Macro-Jê comparative studies, this paper presents additional lexical and grammatical evidence for the inclusion of the Karirí language family into the Macro-Jê stock, based on an exhaustive investigation of the extant data (all of which are now available in electronic format). Besides clarifying the genetic position of the Karirí family, this study may prove equally useful for the understanding of typological rearrangements. Although the Karirí languages, which are verb-initial, are superficially very different from most Macro-Jê languages, which are SOV, many tell-tale signs of its previous typological profile remain—including, alongside the use of “new” prepositions, the survival of “old” postpositions (with cognates readily identifiable in other Macro-Jê languages) as bound case markers.


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