Itonama language

Itonama language

Region Bolivia
Native speakers
5  (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ito
Glottolog iton1250[2]

Itonama is a moribund language isolate spoken in the Amazonian lowlands of north-eastern Bolivia. Greenberg’s (1987) classification of Itonama as Paezan, a sub-branch of Macro-Chibchan, remains unsupported and Itonama continues to be considered an isolate or unclassified language.


  • Phonology 1
    • Vowels 1.1
    • Consonants 1.2
  • Morphology 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5



Front Central Back
High i ɨ u
Mid e o
Low a

Diphthongs: /ai au/.


Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop Plain p t k ʔ
Voiced b d
Affricate Plain
Ejective tʃʼ
Fricative s h
Nasal m n
Lateral l
Flap ɾ
Semivowel w j

The postalveolar affricates /tʃ tʃʼ/ have alveolar allophones [ts tsʼ]. Variation occurs between speakers, and even within the speech of a single person.

The semivowel /w/ is realized as a bilabial fricative [β] when preceded and followed by identical vowels.


Itonama is a polysynthetic, head-marking, verb-initial language with an accusative alignment system along with an inverse subsystem in independent clauses, and straightforward accusative alignment in dependent clauses.

Nominal morphology lacks case declension and adpositions and so is simpler than verbal morphology (which has body-part and location incorporation, directionals, evidentials, verbal classifiers, among others).[3]

See also


  1. ^ Itonama at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Itonama". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Crevels, M. Who did what to whom in Magdalena. p. 3. 
  • Crevels, Mily (2002). , Lengua no clasificada de la Amazonía Boliviana"Sihnipadara"Itonama o . Estudios de Lingüística (in Español) 16. 

External links

  • Sample of Itonama fragment
  • Lenguas de Bolivia (online edition)