Ku (language)

Máku language

The Máku language (also Macu, Makú) is an (unclassified) language isolate spoken on the Brazil-Venezuela border in Roraima along the Uraricoera River. The speakers' territory was formerly between the Padamo and Cunucunuma rivers.

The Máku language should not be confused with the Makú languages, which are distantly if at all related.

There are conflicting reports of the number of speakers which range from 0 to 400. In 1986, there was a report of 2 speakers. Kaufman (1994) reports 10 speakers out of a 100 person ethnic group.

Aryon Rodrigues and Ernesto Migliazza have worked on the language.

Máku is not listed in Gordon's (2005) Ethnologue.


Máku has six oral vowels, , and four nasal vowels, . Length is contrastive, but only on an initial CV syllable of a polysyllabic word. The most complex syllable is CCVC. There is no contrastive stress or tone.

Consonants are stops , the affricate /ts/, fricatives , nasals , the lateral "r" (perhaps /ɺ/?), and the approximants .


Máku is highly polysynthetic and predominantly suffixing. There is clusivity but no genders or classifiers. The TAM system is very complex.

Genetic relations

Suggested genetic relations involving Maku include

External links


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13-67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46-76). London: Routledge.

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