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Created byPá mamūnám ontā́ bán
Native toAcre, Brazil
EthnicityAwe people
Native speakers<1000 (2013)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Awe /ɑːweɪ̯/ is a language isolate spoken in a dozen or so villages in the Brazilian state of Acre. There are fewer than a thousand speakers of the language.

Phonology and orthography


Awe has a small[1] consonant inventory of thirteen phonemes. There are no phonemic nasal consonants, though they do occur as allophones of plosives.

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p b t d k g ʔ
Fricative s ʃ h
Approx. j ɰ
Liquid r

With the exceptions given below, the characters used in the orthography are the same as IPA.

  • /ʔ/ is written with an apostrophe <ʼ>
  • /ʃ/ is written <x>
  • /j/ is written <y>
  • /ɰ/ is written <w>


Awe also has a small[2] vowel inventory, possessing four vowel phonemes. All are represented the in orthography as in IPA.

Front Back
Close i u
Mid o
Open a

Tone and vowel length

Awe is a tonal language and short vowels can bear either a low or a high tone. A low tone is unmarked in the orthography, whereas a high tone is marked with an acute accent.

Tone Orth. IPA
high á á
low a à

Long vowels may bear one of four: top, bottom, rising or falling.

Tone Orth. IPA
top áá a̋ː
bottom aa ȁː
rising ǎː
falling áa âː


Awe syllables may occur with or without an onset and with or without a coda (either open or closed). Though technically making up two syllables, the nucleus may be permitted to contain two vowels adjacent to one another. Word-internally, three vowel phonemes never occur without an intervening consonant. Long vowels are treated the same as short vowels in phonotactics. The eight possible syllable shapes are given below.

No onset Onset
Monovocalic Open V CV
Closed VC CVC
Divocalic Open VV CVV

Consonant clusters only ever occur word-medially, never containing more than two consonant phonemes. The glottal stop /ʔ/ only occurs word-internally.


Nouns in Awe are not inflected to mark case, their grammatical function is instead usually indicated by word order or periphrastic means.


Awe lacks a grammatical gender distinction but animacy is an important category. The animacy of can be seen in their corresponding personal pronouns. They are sorted in a three-tier animacy scale. The first level of this hierarchy is "human", the second "animate" and the third "inanimate". The animacy hierarchy also disprefers inanimate nouns as the subject of verbs and, to a lesser extent, animate nouns.

Despite the name given to the "human" category, it includes nouns that are semantically non-human. Some examples of grammatically human nouns are given below. Similarly, "animate" nouns may include some nouns that refer to humans. This category also includes semantically inanimate artefacts, such as tools associated with hunting. "Inanimate" nouns include body parts are inanimate, as are all plants and fungi.


Awe nouns are marked as plural by reduplication. There are six reduplication patterns.

  1. Reduplication of the final syllable of the world
  2. Reduplication of the final syllable of the world with tonal modification
  3. Reduplication of the word-final vowel with an added glottal stop
  4. Reduplication of the vowel of the final syllable
  5. Reduplication of the vowel of the final syllable with a change in tone
  6. Reduplication of the second element of a long vowel

Uncountable nouns, such as "water", are forbidden from being marked for plurality and no nouns are pluralised (with the exception of pluralia tantum) when used with quantifiers, distributives or numerals.


External links

PMOB on Google Sites