Naduhup, Makú
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families
  • Nadëb–Kuyawi
  • Daw
  • Hupda–Yuhup
  • ? Kakua–Nukak

The Nadahup languages, also known as Makú (Macú) or Vaupés–Japurá, form a small language family in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. The name Makú is pejorative, being derived from an Arawakan word meaning "without speech". Nadahup is an acronym of the constituent languages.[1]

The Nadahup family should not be confused with several other languages which go by the name Makú. There are proposals linking this unclassified language with Nadahup, but also with other languages.

External relationships

Martins (2005: 342–370) groups the Arawakan and Nadahup languages together as part of a proposed Makúan-Arawakan (Nadahup-Arawakan) family,[2] but this proposal has been rejected by Aikhenvald (2006: 237).[3]

Epps and Bolaños (2017) accept the unity of the four Nadahup languages, but do not consider Puinave to be related.[4]

Language contact

Jolkesky (2016) notes that there are lexical similarities with the Arawa, Guahibo, and Tupi language families due to contact.[5] A discussion of lexical and phonological correspondences between the Nadahup (Vaupés-Japurá) and Tupi languages can be found in Jolkesky and Cabral (2011).[6] Nadahup languages also have various loanwords from Tucanoan languages[7] and Nheengatu.[8]


Nadahup consists of about four languages, based on mutual intelligibility. Nadeb and Kuyawi, Hup and Yahup, and Nukak and Kakwa, however, share 90% of their vocabulary and are mutually intelligible, and so are separate languages only in a sociolinguistic sense. These four branches are not close: Although the family was first suggested in 1906, only 300 cognates have been found, which include pronouns but no other grammatical forms.

gloss Nadëb Hup Dâw Nïkâk
father ʔɨb ʔip ʔiːp ʔiːp (Kakwa ʔip)
egg tɨb tip tɨp tip (Kakwa)
water mi mĩh mĩʔ mah (Kakwa)
tooth təɡᵑ (Kuyawi) təɡᵑ təɡ
house mõj mɔ͂j mɨ͂

Nadëb may be the most divergent; of the other languages, there is disagreement on the placement of Nïkâk. Martins (1999) propose two classifications, pending further research:

Martins, proposal A

Nadëb (also known as Kaburi; plus Kuyawi dialect)


Nïkâk (also known as Nukak, plus dialect Kakwa)

Dâw (also known as Kuri-Dou, pejorative Kamã)

Hup (also known as Jupdá; plus dialect Yuhup/Yahup)

Martins, proposal B

Nadëb (with Kuyawi dialect)



Hup (with Yuhup dialect)

Nïkâk (with Kakwa dialect)

However, Epps considers Hup and Yahup to be distinct languages, and maintains that the inclusion of the poorly attested Nukak and Kakwa has not been demonstrated and is in fact highly dubious:[9]


Nadëb (with Kuyawi dialect)


Jolkesky (2016)

Internal classification by Jolkesky (2016):[5]

( = extinct)

This classification is also repeated in Nikulin (2019).[10]


Dâw and Hup—especially Hup—have undergone grammatical restructuring under Tucano influence. They have lost prefixes but acquired suffixes from grammaticalized verb roots. They also have heavily monosyllabic roots, as can be seen by the reduction of Portuguese loan words to their stressed syllable, as in Dâw yẽl’ "money", from Portuguese dinheiro. Nadëb and Nïkâk, on the other hand, have polysyllabic roots. Nïkâk allows a single prefix per word, whereas Nadëb, which lies outside the Vaupés language area, is heavily prefixing and polysynthetic: Up to nine prefixes per word (which is highly unusual for the Amazon), with incorporation of nouns, prepositions, and adverbs.

Genetic relations

Rivet (from 1920), Kaufman (1994) and Pozzobon (1997) include Puinave within the family. However, many of the claimed cognate sets are spurious.[11]

Henley, Mattéi-Müller and Reid (1996) present evidence that the Hodï language (also known as Yuwana) is related.

Puinavean forms part of a hypothetical Macro-Puinavean family along with the Arutani–Sape families and the Máku language.

Macro-Puinavean is included in Joseph Greenberg's larger Macro-Tucanoan stock, but this is universally rejected. Another spurious larger grouping is Morris Swadesh's Macro-Makú.


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for the Macú languages.[12]

gloss Querarí Puináve Curicuriaí Dóu Tiquié Húbde Yehúbde Papury Marahan Nadëb Par. Boá-Boá
one bignõũ hätämad méid méẽ taĩyába aihúb koop sét hẽ yavúratíb
two txénõũ kán témid tubm mbeʔé kognáb powoːbe pawóp hẽ magchíg
three bexkámänõũ hepeyad mtaʔneuáp motuáb móneguap moraáb manap tamawoob hẽ hayo
head uaitíbn a-huyád nu deu-nũ nu nux nuuh
tooth mäú mo-lóg táki deu-tógn tágn tagn tagn tang yö-tog tëg yi-tog
woman yádn de ai aːĩa áei amáidn aiyab taei ỹnh maria
water éd néx noː ndé nde nde dex nahöru naëng ugna
fire tekéd ndé behaú behoː ndégnho tegn tegn tenghon tëëg hõõ tahõ
tobacco héb xob hót hũúd hót hod hud hot exuta hũũt
jaguar txamní yotdam yám yampi yám ñaám nyaam yaam awat awad duvád
tapir híuibe yap táx tax ta ta tógö t'ëëng taígn
house me mo táup tob mõi mói móĩ mooi tob tób tóba


For a list of selected Proto-Eastern Makú reconstructions by Martins (2005),[8] see the corresponding Portuguese article.




  1. ^ Epps. P. A Grammar of Hup. Mouton de Gruyter. 2008. ISBN 978-3-11-019588-0.
  2. ^ Martins, Valteir. 2005. Reconstruçâo fonológica do protomaku oriental. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap.
  3. ^ Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2006. Semantics and pragmatics of grammatical relations in the Vaupés linguistic area. In: Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon (eds.), Grammars in Contact: A Cross-linguistics Typology, 237–266. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Epps, Patience; Katherine Bolaños. Reconsidering the “Makú” Language Family of Northwest Amazonia. International Journal of American Linguistics, Chicago, v. 83, n. 3, 467–507, Jul. 2017.
  5. ^ a b Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho De Valhery. 2016. Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Brasília.
  6. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo; Ana Suelly Arruda Câmara Cabral. 2011. Desvendando as relações entre Tupí e Vaupés-Japurá. Encontro Internacional: Arqueologia e Linguística Histórica das Línguas Indígenas Sul-Americanas. Brasília, 24-28 October 2011.
  7. ^ Epps, Patience. 2006. The Vaupes Melting Pot: Tucanoan Influence on Hup.
  8. ^ a b Martins, Valteir. 2005. Reconstrução Fonológica do Protomaku Oriental. LOT Dissertation Series. 104. Utrecht: LOT Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics. (Doctoral dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).
  9. ^ Patience Epps, The Vaupés Melting Pot: Tucanoan Influence on Hup. In Aikhenvald & Dixon, Grammars in contact: a cross-linguistic typology, 2006:130
  10. ^ Nikulin, Andrey V. 2019. The classification of the languages of the South American Lowlands: State-of-the-art and challenges / Классификация языков востока Южной Америки. Illič-Svityč (Nostratic) Seminar / Ностратический семинар, Higher School of Economics, October 17, 2019.
  11. ^ Patience Epps, 2008. A Grammar of Hup. Mouton de Gruyter.
  12. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.