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A description of Tikuna, a linguistic isolate of the Amazon (Brazil, Colombia, Peru)


  Contact person
Denis BERTET

Scientific framework and objectives

Tikuna is the traditional language of 61 000 Tikuna people living in the western Amazon rainforest at the border between Brazil, Colombia and Peru. This linguistic isolate, though still in rather wide use to date, is threatened with replacement by Spanish and Portuguese in the longer term. The first purpose of this doctoral research is to provide an overall description of this so far little studied language (DTT research team focus). As such, it shall comprise a grammar (including phonological and morphosyntactic analysis) primarily drawing on the framework of contemporary linguistic typology, and a dictionary. Another aim of this project is to advance the documentation of Tikuna (LED-TDR project focus) by collecting a varied corpus of spoken texts, transcribing and translating them with the help of native speakers, and eventually glossing them and providing them with context metadata. This twofold work will build on spontaneous speech samples gathered on the field in Colombian Tikuna settlements. This research is funded by a doctoral fellowship awarded by the École Normale Supérieure (october 2015–september 2018) and is being carried out under the supervision of Antoine Guillaume (DDL).

Approximate location of the Tikuna people


  Financial support
  • Financements de terrain ASLAN WP2
    Linguistic surveys for the description of Tikuna (isolate, Colombia)
    Labex ASLAN - Université de Lyon
    2015-16 ; 2016 ; 2017
  • Contrat Doctoral Lyon 2 - spécifique ENS
    A description of Tikuna, a linguistic isolate of the Amazon (Brazil, Colombia, Peru
    ENS Ulm Paris–Université Lumière Lyon 2
    2015-2018

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