|Native to||Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname|
Warao (also known as Guarauno, Guarao, Warrau) is the native language of the Warao people. A language isolate, it is spoken by about 33,000 people primarily in northern Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname. It is notable for its unusual object–subject–verb word order. The 2015 Venezuelan film Gone with the River was spoken in Warao.
Warao appears to be a language isolate, unrelated to any recorded language in the region or elsewhere. Terrence Kaufman (1994) included it in his hypothetical Macro-Paezan family, but the necessary supporting work was never done. Julian Granberry connected many of the grammatical forms, including nominal and verbal suffixes, of Warao to the Timucua language of North Florida, also a language isolate. However, he has also derived Timucua morphemes from Muskogean, Chibchan, Paezan, Arawakan, and other Amazonian languages, suggesting multi-language creolization as a possible explanation for these similarities.
Main article: Waroid languages
Further information: Pre-Arawakan languages of the Greater Antilles
Granberry also finds "Waroid" vocabulary items in Guajiro (from toponymic evidence it seems that the Warao or a related people once occupied Goajiro country) and in Taino (nuçay or nozay [nosái] "gold" in Ciboney — cf. Warao naséi símo "gold" (lit. "yellow pebble") — and duho "ceremonial stool" in Classic Taino — cf. Warao duhu "sit, stool"). Granberry & Vescelius (2004) note that toponymic evidence suggests that the pre-Taino Macorix language of Hispaniola and the Guanahatabey language of Cuba may have been Waroid languages as well.
Jolkesky (2016) notes that there are lexical similarities with the Cariban, Arutani, Máku, and Sape language families due to contact within an earlier Guiana Highlands interaction sphere.
The language had an estimated 28,100 speakers in Venezuela as of 2007. The Warao people live chiefly in the Orinoco Delta region of northeastern Venezuela, with smaller communities in southwestern Trinidad (Trinidad and Tobago), western Guyana and Suriname. The language is considered endangered by UNESCO.
Loukotka (1968) lists these varieties:
Mason (1950) lists:
The language's basic word order has been analyzed as object–subject–verb, a very rare word order among nominative–accusative languages such as Warao.
The Warao consonant inventory is small, but not quite as small as many other South American inventories. It does not contain any notable exotica.
[b] and [d, ɺ] are allophones of /p/ and /ɾ/. There are five oral vowels /a, ɛ, i, ɔ, u/ and five nasal vowels /ã, ẽ, ĩ, õ, ũ/. /u/ after /k/ within the beginning of words has a sound as [ɨ].
Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for Uarao (Warao) and Mariusa.