|Huaorani / Waorani|
|Native to||Ecuador, Peru|
|Region||Oriente or Ecuadorian Amazon|
|Ethnicity||1,800 Huaorani people (2012)|
Official language in
|Ecuador: indigenous languages official in own territories|
The Waorani (Huaorani) language, commonly known as Sabela (also Wao, Huao, Auishiri, Aushiri, Ssabela ; autonym: Wao Terero; pejorative: Auka, Auca) is a vulnerable language isolate spoken by the Huaorani people, an indigenous group living in the Amazon rainforest between the Napo and Curaray Rivers in Ecuador. A small number of speakers with so-called uncontacted groups may live in Peru.
Huaorani is considered endangered due to growing bilingualism in Quechua and Spanish and diminishing Huaorani usage among youth.
Huaorani has three dialects: Tiguacuna (Tiwakuna), Tuei (Tiwi Tuei, Tiwi), and Shiripuno.
Sabela is not known to be related to any other language. However, it forms part of Terrence Kaufman's Yawan proposal.
Jolkesky (2016) also notes that there are lexical similarities with Yaruro.
Huaorani distinguishes nasal vowels from oral ones. Syllable structure is (C)V, with frequent vowel clusters. The allophones of /o/ range from [ɵ, o, ʊ, ɤ] and the allophones of /õ/ have a similar range, [ɵ̃, õ, ʊ̃, ɤ̃], and allophones of /e, ẽ/ can be heard as [ɪ, ɪ̃]. The alveolar tap [ɾ] is an allophone of /d/ and the palatal glide [j] is an allophone of /ɟ/.
Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for Sabela and Tiwituey.