Whatever happened to Mashubi? Taking a new look at Fawcett=?windows-1252?Q?=92s_?=vocabulary (Voort 2012)

Eduardo Ribeiro kariri at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 31 18:56:52 UTC 2012

Dear all,

Cadernos de Etnolingüística, an electronic journal on South American
languages, has just published an article by Hein van der Voort (a
leading expert on Rondonian languages) investigating the linguistic
affiliation of the "Mashubi," an Amazonian tribe visited by British
adventurer Percy Fawcett in 1914 (please see abstract and link below).

Confirming ethnographer Franz Caspar's (1955) suggestion, the article
demonstrates that the "Mashubi" were the ancestors of the present-day
Arikapú (Jabutí family, Macro-Jê stock), whose language is now down to
one speaker. As with previous issues of the "Cadernos," the article is
enriched with links to a number of freely-available original sources
("EtnoLinks"), including Caspar's 1955 article and Fawcett's paper on
the Mashubi.


Eduardo R. Ribeiro
(co-editor, Cadernos de Etnolingüística)

Whatever happened to Mashubi? Taking a new look at Fawcett’s vocabulary

by Hein van der Voort

In this article, the earliest documentation of a Jabuti language is
analyzed and identified. In 1914, the British explorer Colonel Percy
Fawcett visited the headwaters of the Colorado, Branco and Mekens
Rivers, where he met a group of Indians he called Mashubi. He took
down a list of approximately 100 words, which was published in 1953 by
Paul Rivet. At the present, the received classification of Mashubi is
as a third language of the Jabuti (Macro-Jê) linguistic family, along
with Arikapu and Djeoromitxi. However, the indigenous peoples of the
Guaporé region have never heard of a group called Mashubi.
Furthermore, linguists tend to be unaware of the hypothesis published
in 1955 by Franz Caspar that Mashubi in fact is Arikapu. Until
recently, our ideas about the Jabuti languages could not be verified
for lack of data. In the present article Fawcett’s Mashubi word list
is held up to the light of abundant new data on the Jabuti languages.
It turns out that Caspar was right.


Eduardo Rivail Ribeiro, lingüista

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