Tessmann's <Nokamán>: a linguistic investigation of a mysterious Panoan group

Cadernos de Etnolingüística
volume 5, número 2, dezembro/2013

Tessmann's <Nokamán>: a linguistic investigation of a mysterious Panoan group

Roberto Zariquiey Biondi

This paper offers the first linguistic examination of Günter Tessmann’s <Nokamán> lexicon published in 1930. The analysis presented here reveals that what Tessmann referred to as the <Nokamán> language is actually a dialect of Cashibo-Cacataibo, a Panoan language spoken in Peru. In addition, the available data will be used to determine the position of <Nokamán> within the dialectology of the Cashibo-Cacataibo language, revealing a remarkable similarity between the linguistic variety described by Tessmann and the dialect of Cashibo-Cacataibo spoken on the San Alejandro River. The claim of the identity of Tessmann’s supposedly extinct <Nokoman> as the modern San Alejandro dialect of Cashibo-Cacataibo is argued based on both lexical and phonological evidence. A discussion of the possible etymology of the term <Nokamán>, which has so far remained enigmatic, as well as other ethno-historical clues that support the claims presented here, are also offered.

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