Cadernos de Etnolingüística
volume 4, número 1, maio/2012
Whatever happened to Mashubi? Taking a new look at Fawcett’s vocabulary
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.