Arabela: A Language Feature

  • September 7, 2018

When I first found out about the language Arabela, which is also called Chiripuno and Chiripunu, I was instantly intrigued and felt a growing need to learn as much as I could about it. There is just something very special about Arabela. It’s hard to put your finger on and explain, but it’s definitely there.

Since this language is very close to dying out, I wanted to make sure that more people learned about it. Even if just a couple of people became interested in the language, then I would feel happy.

According to Omniglot, Arabela is spoken in Peru on the Arabela river,  in the Napo tributary, which is located in northeastern Peru. It has approximately 50 speakers in two villages in this area. Most people that speak Arabela are also speakers of Spanish and Quechua. It also has official status where it is spoken. Ethnologue stated that some people can understand Arabela, but they don’t speak it.

Arabela is a member of the Zaparoan language family, and this language family is currently endangered. Native-languages lists the other languages in this family, which are Andoa, Aushiri, Cahuarano, Iquito, Omurano, and Zaparo.

Native-languages also wrote that Arabela and Andoa are considered to be dialects of one language by some linguists because of their close relationship to each other.

Arabela is used sometimes in schools in textbooks, but there is not very much written literature in the language at all. Since the language is not used often in school, and because there are around 50 speakers left, Arabela will die out rather quickly if the correct measures are not taken to preserve the language.

One thing that makes Arabela interesting is that is has an SOV, or Subject-Object-Verb word order. Arabela also has lots of suffixes, and it is an agglutinative language as well. When a language is agglutinative, that means that words can be formed in a language from different word units that do not involve changes in sounds or spelling.

Even though Arabela only has around 50 speakers left, and even though those speakers are hard to reach, there is still hope for the language. Native-languages has put together a list of resources for Arabela, which include vocabulary lists, pronunciation guides, and other documents about the language.

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