Warao language

Warao language

Native to Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname
Native speakers
28,000 in Venezuela  (2007)[1]
few elsewhere
Language codes
ISO 639-3 wba
Glottolog wara1303[2]

Warao (also known as Guarauno, Guarao, Warrau) is the native language of the Warao people. A language isolate, it is spoken by about 28,000 people primarily in northern Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname. It is notable for its unusual object–subject–verb word order.[3]


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 western Guyana and Suriname.[4]

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.[5] It appears to be a language isolate, unrelated to any other language in the region or elsewhere.[6] However, Terrence Kaufman (1994) included it in his hypothetical Macro-Paezan family, but the necessary supporting work was never done.[7] 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, suggesting creolization as a possible explanation for these similarities.[8]


  1. ^ Warao at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Warao". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Warao". www.jorojokowarao.de. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  4. ^ "WARAO: a language of Venezuela", Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 14th Edition, 2000
  5. ^ Andrés Romero-Figueroa, "OSV as the basic order in Warao", Lingua Volume 66, Issues 2-3, July 1985, Pages 115-134
  6. ^ Campbell & Grondona, 2012, The Indigenous Languages of South America: A Comprehensive Guide
  7. ^ Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  8. ^ Julian Granberry, A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language, pp. 15-32


  • Campbell, Lyle. 1997. American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Granberry Julian. 1993. A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language. University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817307044
  • Henry A. Osborn, Jr. 1966. Warao I: Phonology and Morphophonemics. International Journal of American Linguistics Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr., 1966), pp. 108–123
  • Henry A. Osborn, Jr. 1966b. Warao II: Nouns, Relationals, and Demonstratives. In: International Journal of American Linguistics 32: 253-261.
  • Barral, Basilio de. 1979. Diccionario Warao-Castellano, Castellano-Warao. Caracas: UCAB
  • Figeroa, Andrés Romero. 1997. A Reference Grammar of Warao. München, Newcastle: Lincom
  • Vaquero, Antonio. 1965. Idioma Warao. Morfología, sintaxis, literatura. Estudios Venezolanos Indígenas. Caracas.
  • Wilbert, Johannes. 1964. Warao Oral Litrerature. Instituto Caribe de Antropología y Sociología. Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales. Monograph no 9 Caracas: Editorial Sucre.
  • Wilbert, Johannes. 1969. Textos Folklóricos de los Indios Warao. Los Angeles: Latin American Center. University of California. Latin American Studies Vol.12