Shipibo language

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Native toPeru
RegionUcayali Region
EthnicityShipibo-Conibo people
Native speakers
26,000 (2003)[1]
  • Mainline Panoan
    • Nawa
      • Chama
        • Shipibo-Conibo
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
shp – Shipibo-Conibo
kaq – Tapiche Capanahua

Shipibo (also Shipibo-Conibo, Shipibo-Konibo) is a Panoan language spoken in Peru and Brazil by approximately 26,000 speakers. Shipibo is an official language of Peru.


A Shipibo jar

Shipibo has three attested dialects:

  • Shipibo and Konibo (Conibo), which have merged
  • Kapanawa of the Tapiche River, which is obsolescent

Extinct Xipináwa (Shipinawa) is thought to have been a dialect as well, but there is no linguistic data (Fleck 2013).



Monophthong phonemes[3]
Front Central Back
Close i ĩ ɯ ɯ̃
Mid o õ
Open a ã
  • /i/ is near-close front unrounded [].[3]
  • /ɯ/ is close near-back unrounded [ɯ̟].[3]
    • Before coronal consonants (especially /n, t, s/) it can be realized as close central unrounded [ɨ].[4]
  • /o/ is mid near-back unrounded [].[3]
  • /i, ɯ, o/ tend to be more central in closed syllables.[4]
  • /a/ is near-open central unrounded [ɐ].[3]
  • In connected speech, two adjacent vowels may be realized as a rising diphthong.[4]


  • The oral vowels /i, ɯ, o, a/ are phonetically nasalized [ĩ, ɯ̃, õ, ã] after a nasal consonant, but the phonological behaviour of these allophones is different from the nasal vowel phonemes /ĩ, ɯ̃, õ, ã/.[3]
  • Oral vowels in syllables preceding syllables with nasal vowels are realized as nasal, but not when a consonant other than /w, j/ intervenes.[4]


  • The second one of the two adjacent unstressed vowels is often deleted.[4]
  • Unstressed vowels may be devoiced or even elided between two voiceless obstruents.[4]


Consonant phonemes[5]
Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t k
Affricate voiceless ts
Fricative voiceless s ʂ ʃ h
voiced β
Approximant w ɻ j
  • /m, p, β/ are bilabial, whereas /w/ is labialized velar.
    • /β/ is most typically a fricative [β], but other realizations (such as an approximant [β̞], a stop [b] and an affricate []) also appear. The stop realization is most likely to appear in word-initial stressed syllables, whereas the approximant realization appears most often as onsets to non-initial unstressed syllables.[3]
  • /n, ts, s/ are alveolar [n, ts, s], whereas /t/ is dental [].[5]
  • The /ʂ–ʃ/ distinction can be described as an apical–laminal one.[3]
  • /tʃ, ʃ/ are palato-alveolar, whereas /j/ is palatal.[5]
  • Before nasal vowels, /w, j/ are nasalized [, ] and may be even realized close to nasal stops [ŋʷ, ɲ].[4]
  • /w/ is realized as [w] before /a, ã/, as [ɥ] before /i, ĩ/ and as [ɰ] before /ɯ, ɯ̃/. It does not occur before /o, õ/.[4]
  • /ɻ/ is a very variable sound:
    • Intervocalically, it is realized either as an approximant [ɻ], or sometimes as a (weak) fricative [ʐ].[3]
    • Sometimes (especially in the beginning of a stressed syllable) it can be realized as a postalveolar affricate [d̠͡z̠], or a stop-appproximant sequence [d̠ɹ̠].[4]
    • It can also be realized as a postalveolar flap [ɾ̠].[3]


  1. ^ Shipibo-Conibo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tapiche Capanahua at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Shipibo-Konibo–Kapanawa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 282.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 283.
  5. ^ a b c Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001), p. 281.

External links[edit]


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Elias-Ulloa, Jose (2000). El Acento en Shipibo (Stress in Shipibo). Thesis. Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima - Peru.
  • Elias-Ulloa, Jose (2005). Theoretical Aspects of Panoan Metrical Phonology: Disyllabic Footing and Contextual Syllable Weight. Ph. D. Dissertation. Rutgers University. ROA 804 [1].
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • 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.
  • Loriot, James and Barbara E. Hollenbach. 1970. "Shipibo paragraph structure." Foundations of Language 6: 43-66. (This was the seminal Discourse Analysis paper taught at SIL in 1956-7.)
  • Loriot, James, Erwin Lauriault, and Dwight Day, compilers. 1993. Diccionario shipibo - castellano. Serie Lingüística Peruana, 31. Lima: Ministerio de Educación and Instituto Lingüístico de Verano. 554 p. (Spanish zip-file available online This has a complete grammar published in English by SIL only available through SIL.
  • Valenzuela, Pilar M.; Márquez Pinedo, Luis; Maddieson, Ian (2001), "Shipibo", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 31 (2): 281–285, doi:10.1017/S0025100301002109