|Ethnicity||1,500 Mura people (1995)|
The attested extent of Mura and Matanawi
Mura is a language of Amazonas, Brazil. It is most famous for Pirahã, its sole surviving dialect. Linguistically, it is typified by agglutinativity, a very small number of phonemes (11 compared to over 44 in English), whistled speech, and the use of tone.
In the 19th century, there were an estimated 30,000–60,000 Mura[clarification needed]. It is now spoken by only 300 Pirahã people in eight villages.
Since at least Barboza Rodrigues (1892), there have been three ethnic names commonly listed as dialects of Mura, or even as Muran languages. The names are:
- Bohurá, or Buxwaray, the original form of the name 'Mura'
- Pirahã, or Pirahá, Pirahán, the name the remaining dialect goes by
- Yahahí, also spelled Jahahi
On the basis of a minuscule amount of data, it would appear that Bohurá (Mura proper) was mutually intelligible with Pirahã; however, for Yahahí there exists only ethnographic information, and it can be assumed they spoke the same language as other Mura. Rodrigues describes the Yahahí as having come from the Branco river, a tributary of the right bank of the upper Marmelos river. The last Yahahí are said to have joined the Pirahã.
The Mura/Bohurá endonym is Buhuraen, according to Barboza Rodrigues (1892), or Buxivaray ~ Buxwarahay, according to Tastevin (1923). This was pronounced Murá by their neighbors, the Torá and Matanawi. In his vocabulary, Rodrigues lists Bohura for the people and bhurai-ada "Mura language" for the language, from the Mura of the Manicoré River; Tastevin has Bohurai and bohuarai-arase for the same. They also record,
- nahi buxwara araha "That one is Mura"
- yane abahi araha buxwarái "We are all Mura"
(Caution: these words need to be confirmed. The scanned text of Nimuendaju (1948) at the link has several errors, such as ⟨c⟩ for ⟨e⟩, ⟨h⟩ for ⟨b⟩, and ⟨d⟩ for ⟨á⟩.)
- Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
- Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.
- Curt Nimuendajú (1948): "The Mura" and "The Yahahi", in Handbook of South American Indians, Volume 3:The Tropical Forest Tribes, ed. Julian H. Steward, pp. 255–269.
- PROEL: Grupo Muran