Knut J. Olawsky
Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University
Urarina is a language isolate spoken by approximately 3000 people who live scattered in the Rio Chambira area of Loreto in the Peruvian rainforest. While the majority of Urarina speakers are monolingual, socio-economic changes have already lead to loss of certain cultural knowledge, including the capacity of story telling.
This text collection intends to preserve the records of history from the Urarina perspective. Although very little is known about neighbouring ethnic groups (most of which are extinct), lexical and grammatical aspects indicate that the Urarina language is not genetically related to any of the tongues of the Rio Chambira or nearby areas. Therefore, it is still unclear from where the Urarinas may have descended. However, the content of the stories presented in this book may help to relate the way Urarinas view the world to that of other groups. For example, many cultures of Amazonia know a story of a flood in some way similar to the biblical account.
Interestingly, the Urarinas recognize two quite different versions of a flood tale, which are both presented in this book.
A short introduction to the cultural context offered in this collection helps to understand the way of living of the Urarinas. The sentences of each text include grammatical information in form of an interlinearised translation and a free translation. All data is based on recent fieldwork undertaken by the author.
ISBN 9783895866937. Languages of the World/Text Collections 17. 150pp. 2002.