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Mayna, the lost Kawapanan language


Rojas-Berscia,  Luis Miguel
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Rojas-Berscia, L. M. (2015). Mayna, the lost Kawapanan language. LIAMES, 15, 393-407. Retrieved from

The origins of the Mayna language, formerly spoken in northwest Peruvian Amazonia, remain a mystery for most scholars. Several discussions on it took place in the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th; however, none arrived at a consensus. Apart from an article written by Taylor & Descola (1981), suggesting a relationship with the Jivaroan language family, little to nothing has been said about it for the last half of the 20th century and the last decades. In the present article, a summary of the principal accounts on the language and its people between the 19th and the 20th century will be given, followed by a corpus analysis in which the materials available in Mayna and Kawapanan, mainly prayers collected by Hervás (1787) and Teza (1868), will be analysed and compared for the first time in light of recent analyses in the new-born field called Kawapanan linguistics (Barraza de García 2005a,b; Valenzuela-Bismarck 2011a,b , Valenzuela 2013; Rojas-Berscia 2013, 2014; Madalengoitia-Barúa 2013; Farfán-Reto 2012), in order to test its affiliation to the Kawapanan language family, as claimed by Beuchat & Rivet (1909) and account for its place in the dialectology of this language family.