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Zamucoan ethnonymy in the 18th century and the etymology of Ayoreo

L’ethnonymie zamuco au xviiie siècle et l’étymologie d’ayoreo
La etnonimia zamuco en el siglo xviii y la etimología de ayoreo
Luca Ciucci
p. 77-114


Cette étude présente de nouvelles données sur l’ethnonymie zamuco et résout un problème étymologique concernant le terme ayoreo. La première langue zamuco documentée est l’ancien zamuco, parlé au xviiie siècle dans les missions jésuites de Chiquitos et ressemblant à l’actuel ayoreo. L’analyse de la morphologie et de la signification des ethnonymes utilisés par les Zamuco au xviiie siècle permet de faire émerger des dénominations ethniques auparavant non documentées, notamment l’endonyme du peuple parlant l’ancien zamuco. Certains ethnonymes zamuco ne proviennent pas de l’ancien zamuco, mais d’une autre variété parlée au xviiie siècle, qui emploie un suffixe pluriel identique à celui de l’actuel ayoreo. Tout en confirmant le fait que zamuco est bien un exonyme, cet article fournit de nouvelles preuves que le terme ayoreo n’a pas été emprunté, puisqu’un mot apparenté est attesté dans l’ancien zamuco. Enfin, bien que ayoreo en tant que « peuple, êtres humains » soit un mot autochtone, son adoption comme ethnonyme est relativement récente et est due à des dynamiques sociales partagées avec d’autres populations de la région après la guerre du Chaco.

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Notes de la rédaction

Manuscrit reçu en septembre 2020, accepté pour publication en septembre 2021.

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Acknowledgements – Thanks are due to the following scholars: Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Pier Marco Bertinetto, Alice Cavinato, Isabelle Combès, Mauro Costantino, Biera Cubilla Zadovsky, Wolf Dietrich, R. M. W. Dixon, Mojca Zega, and an anonymous reviewer. The author is the only one responsible for any mistakes this paper may contain.

1The present work shows how the analysis of ethnonyms contributes to improving our linguistic, historical, and ethnographic knowledge of a geographic area and its ethnic groups. The self-designation of an ethnic group, or endonym, helps us understand how a population defines its identity, while the names given by other populations, or exonyms, reflect interethnic relations. This study deals with Zamucoan, a language family of northern Chaco, which spans southeastern Bolivia and northern Paraguay, and discusses Zamucoan ethnonymy with a particular focus on the term Ayoreo. Although its adoption as an ethnonym is probably recent, Ayoreo is a Zamucoan noun for which one can identify a cognate in Old Zamuco, a Zamucoan language spoken in the 18th century and close to present-day Ayoreo. My research also confirms that the term Zamuco is an exonym and identifies for the first time the self-designation of the group originally referred to as Zamuco.

2Ethnonyms can also give us valuable information about the language of the group using that name, especially when it is an extinct and poorly documented linguistic variety, such as Morotoco, which was spoken by several Zamucoan groups in the 18th century. Particularly in ethnonyms, linguistic data complement those from other disciplines: for example, we have very little information about many Zamucoan ethnic groups other than their names. In addition, the origin, development, or disappearance of an ethnonym reflects a variety of factors (including cultural, social, political, and geographic ones) that occurred in the past, as emerges throughout the paper. For this reason, a linguistic analysis of ethnonymy can provide a valuable contribution to historical and ethnographic studies.

3After an introduction to the Zamucoan family, Section 1 addresses the morphology of Zamucoan nouns, which is necessary for any analysis of Zamucoan ethnonyms. Section 2 analyzes the current etymological issue concerning Ayoreo; this study presents new data from an unpublished Old Zamuco dictionary, which is described in Section 4. Based on this document, the Old Zamuco cognate of Ayoreo (Section 4) and the endonym of the Old Zamuco-speaking people are attested for the first time (Section 5). The dictionary also contains new data on 18th-century ethnonyms, for both Zamucoan (Section 6) and non-Zamucoan groups (Section 7), which are summarized in Section 8. Section 9 discusses how Ayoreo, originally meaning “people, human beings,” came to be used as an ethnonym.

4The Zamucoan family consists of two living languages of the northern Chaco: Ayoreo (about 4,650 speakers) and Chamacoco (about 2,000 speakers). The traditional Ayoreo territory spans northern Paraguay and southeastern Bolivia, while the Chamacoco inhabit the department of Alto Paraguay in Paraguay. A third language, Old Zamuco, was spoken in the Jesuit mission of San Ignacio de Zamucos. The mission was founded in 1724 and was abandoned in 1745. In that year, the Zamucoan groups living in the mission moved to other Jesuit missions of the area (the Jesuit missions of Chiquitos). This had long-term consequences for Old Zamuco, which was the language of evangelization in San Ignacio, and was gradually replaced by Chiquitano, the working language in neighboring missions. For this reason, although the French naturalist Alcide d’Orbigny could still find some peoples speaking Zamucoan “dialects” in 1831, Old Zamuco is now an extinct language. Most documentation available for Old Zamuco is due to the Jesuit Father Ignace Chomé, who wrote a grammar and a dictionary. The grammar, Arte de la lengua zamuca, was posthumously published by Suzanne Lussagnet (Chomé 1958 [ante 1745]), while the present author is preparing a critical edition of Chomé´s dictionary (Ciucci [ed.] forthcoming). The present study shows how the new data of the dictionary increase our knowledge of Zamucoan ethnonymy.

5Figure 1 shows the approximate distribution of present-day Chaco languages, along with some extinct ones, such as Old Zamuco.

Fig. 1 – The languages of the South American Chaco (Ciucci 2020)

Fig. 1 – The languages of the South American Chaco (Ciucci 2020)

6Figure 2 shows the internal classification of the Zamucoan family, which is divided into two branches: the first one consists of Old Zamuco and Ayoreo, while Chamacoco forms the second branch. Chamacoco has two dialects, Ɨbɨtoso (aka Ebitoso) and Tomaraho.

Fig. 2 – Internal classification of Zamucoan (Ciucci 2021)

Fig. 2 – Internal classification of Zamucoan (Ciucci 2021)

7Old Zamuco and Ayoreo share most of their lexicon, while Chamacoco only shares about 30% of its lexicon with Ayoreo. In addition, there are remarkable cultural differences between the Ayoreo and Chamacoco cosmovision. When the Jesuits evangelized the Zamucoan peoples, they adopted one dialect, called Zamuco, which gave name to the language family. This language is called Old Zamuco to distinguish the name of the language from that of its family. The Zamucoan peoples living in San Ignacio de Zamucos and in the Jesuit missions of Chiquitos were not linguistically homogeneous; indeed, the Zamucoan peoples were split into many local groups and, according to the Jesuits, three “dialects” other than Old Zamuco were spoken (see Figure 4). Very little is known about the 18th-century Zamucoan dialects (see Section 6). Not all Zamucoan peoples accepted the evangelization; the Ayoreo descend from the Zamucoan groups who decided to maintain their traditional way of life. However, many ancestors of the present-day Ayoreo lived for a while in the missions before escaping back into the woods. Indeed, the encounter with the Jesuits has left traces in the Ayoreo culture (Fischermann 1988, 1993). It is impossible to equate the Ayoreo with one specific group identified by the Jesuits and their language with one of the four dialects because the Zamucoan peoples who refused to live in the missions merged.

8The mere presence of the missions in the region thus led to a reorganization of the Zamucoan local groups. Still, very little is known about the Zamucoan groups living in the woods from 1767 until the 1940s, when the Ayoreo were contacted by evangelical missionaries and gradually became sedentary. Also, the Ayoreo language should not be considered a direct descendant of Old Zamuco, which died out in the missions of Chiquitos, but comes from different Zamucoan varieties already spoken in the 18th century. Maybe one of these historical dialects was preponderant in shaping present-day Ayoreo, but it is impossible to identify it, even though one can say that this dialect was not Old Zamuco.

  • 1 The double consonants in Old Zamuco orthography possibly indicated consonantal lengthening in the (...)

9Previous comparison (Ciucci 2016 [2013]; Ciucci and Bertinetto 2015, 2017) has identified significant morphological differences between Old Zamuco and Ayoreo, which can be better explained if one assumes that they developed from other 18th-century Zamucoan dialects. Also, Old Zamuco displays innovations absent in present-day Ayoreo (Ciucci 2021), which is further evidence that Ayoreo cannot be considered a direct descendant of Old Zamuco. For instance, Old Zamuco has regularized the verb “to go,” while Ayoreo and Chamacoco maintain older forms of the paradigm (Bertinetto and Ciucci 2019, p. 34-35). The present study discusses the masculine plural suffixes -(o)de/-(o)ne in some Zamucoan ethnonyms that come from the Morotoco dialect (see Sections 6 and 8). The suffixes -(o)de/-(o)ne are identical to present-day Ayoreo, but differ from their Old Zamuco cognates -(o)ddoe/-(o)nnoe.1 Thus, Ayoreo has plural allomorphs that can be traced back to a Zamucoan dialect other than Old Zamuco.

10Although the Jesuits left no trace in the Chamacoco culture, some Zamucoan groups contacted by them might be associated with the present-day Chamacoco (Combès 2009); they spoke the Caypotorade dialect (see Section 6), but owing to lack of data, it is impossible to compare it with Chamacoco. Since, within Zamucoan, Chamacoco forms a branch on its own, it plays a marginal role in this study; the few data mentioned for Chamacoco come from the author’s fieldwork.

11The Old Zamuco data are from Chomé’s dictionary (unless Chomé’s grammar is explicitly mentioned); data for Ayoreo come from the extant lexicographical sources (Barrios, Bulfe, and Zanardini 1995; Higham, Morarie, and Paul 2000; Morarie 2011) as well as from fieldwork by Pier Marco Bertinetto and the present author. The reader interested in more information on Ayoreo grammar can consult Bertinetto (2014 [2009]). For each Zamucoan language, I have followed the respective orthography, discussed in Ciucci (2016 [2013]).

1. Ayoreo, Ayoré, or Ayoreode? The morphology of Ayoreo

12Across the literature, there are several variants of the form Ayoreo. Some of them are different inflected forms of the same paradigm, such as Ayore, Ayoreo, or Ayoreode, whereas others are orthographic variants, such as Ayoré for Ayore (the accent is often not indicated), or reflect a local pronunciation, such as Ayoweo for Ayoreo (Sušnik 1963) or Ayoeode for Ayoreode (Pia 2018, p. 36). In addition, the Spanish plural -s is frequently added to these forms, yielding Ayorés, Ayoreos, Ayoweos, and so on.

13Before dealing with the issues concerning the term Ayoreo, one has to address its morphology, providing the reader with an outline of noun inflection in Zamucoan. Indeed, the morphology of Ayoreo is often overlooked in the literature so that there is confusion about which form is cited; a basic understanding of Zamucoan nominal morphology is thus necessary to study and compare Zamucoan ethnonyms. Since Ayoreo is now the most common form in the literature, it is used here as a citation form for the ethnonym. In some cases, however, I mention the form Ayoré to refer to the root of this noun in the Ayoreo language.

14Zamucoan languages are fusional. Nouns and adjectives have a suffix that expresses gender (masculine or feminine), number (singular or plural) and “form.” The latter feature is a peculiarity of Zamucoan, which distinguishes a predicative form, an argument form, and an indeterminate form. The predicative form expresses nominal predication, as in (1), where “jaguar” is the head of the intransitive predicate. The argument and the indeterminate form mark noun phrases with argument function, as in (2) and (3). The difference between argument and indeterminate form is that the latter has non-specific reference, as shown in (3).

  • 2 See the abbreviation section for the grammatical category labels used here and in the following ex (...)
(1) ¡[Carataque] intransitive predicate que don Pedro a! retr don Pedro mod  
  “It was a jaguar, don Pedro!” (Briggs 1972, II, p. 35; cit. in Bertinetto 2014 [2009])2
(2) Ch-uninga mu [carata-i] t-õraja guesi
  3-be_surprised but 3-throw_into outside
  “He was surprised, but the jaguar came out.” (Briggs 1972, II, p. 36)
(3) A ore ch-ajna [ajarame-tique]. [Aramoro-raque] a deji
  mod 3pl 3-follow mod 3.exist
  “They are following an armadillo, or perhaps a brocket.” (Briggs 1972, II, p. 28)

15Table 1 offers a synoptic view of nominal suffixation in Zamucoan. Chamacoco has lost the difference between plural predicative and argument form. This is not the only instance of neutralization: in Ayoreo, the feminine singular predicative and argument form have come to coincide. For a detailed analysis of Zamucoan nominal morphology, see Ciucci (2016 [2013]).

Table 1 – The Zamucoan threefold system of nominal suffixation (Ciucci 2016 [2013]; Ciucci and Bertinetto 2019)

  Old Zamuco Ayoreo Chamacoco
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Masculine Predicative Form -(y)o, -ño -(y)o , ‑ño ‑Ø, ‑k, -(y)ak ‑(y/w)o, ‑(y)e, ‑tso, ‑cho, ‑lo, ‑no
Masculine Argument Form -(i)tie, (-re) ‑oddoe, ‑onnoe, (-rao) -i -ode, -one -(ɨ)t, -(i)ch
Masculine Indeterminate Form ‑nic, ‑ric, -tic -nigo, -rigo, -tigo -nic, -ric, ‑tic ‑ningo, ‑rigo, ‑ringo, -tigo -ɨ̃rk, -tɨk -tiyo, -ɨ̃r
Feminine Predicative Form -(y)i, -ñi -Ø, (-e) -i ‑Ø, -aˀ, ‑eˀ, ‑oˀ, ɨˀ -(y/w)e
Feminine Argument Form -(i)tae ‑(i)yie, ‑(i)ñie -Ø, -(i)a, (-e) ‑(i)die, ‑(i)nie -(ɨ)ta, -(i)cha
Feminine Indeterminate Form ‑nac, ‑rac, -tac -rigui ‑nac, ‑rac, ‑tac ‑ningui, ‑rigui, ringui, ‑tigui ‑rã(k), ‑tã(k) -ɨ̃r
  • 4 In the literature, the form Ayoreode is sometimes preferred to Ayoreo because it is considered the (...)

16As one can see from Table 1, the singular predicative form diachronically coincides with the root. The fact that the marking of the predicative function is morphologically lighter than that of the argument is rare in the world’s languages (Bertinetto, Ciucci, and Farina 2019). The singular predicative form is also the starting point for any morphological operation and is often epicene, that is, common to both genders, as shown in Table 2. Here, the whole inflection of Ayoreo is built upon the epicene singular predicative form Ayoré (also coinciding with the feminine singular argument form). While addressing the Ayoreo people and their language, some authors use the form Ayoré (, while others prefer the plurals Ayoreo ( or Ayoreode (; here I use Ayoreo ( since this form has imposed itself in the Spanish and English literature.4 By contrast, the other Zamucoan terms are cited in singular predicative form whenever possible. In any case, considering the complexity of nominal morphology, the forms of the Zamucoan ethnonyms reported in this paper are glossed consistently.

Table 2 – The inflection of Ayoreo

  Singular Plural
Masculine predicative form Ayoré-Ø Ayore-o
Feminine predicative form Ayoré-Ø Ayore-i
Masculine argument form Ayore-i Ayore-ode
Feminine argument form Ayoré-Ø Ayore-die
Masculine indeterminate form Ayore-ric Ayore-rigo
Feminine indeterminate form Ayore-rac Ayore-rigui

17Zamucoan nouns can also be inflected for the person of the possessor, which is expressed by a prefix. The possessive inflection is not dealt with here since it does not interact with nominal suffixation, and Ayoreo ethnonyms are not inflected for possessor; possessive inflection is briefly mentioned in Sections 4, 5 and 7 for some Old Zamuco nouns.

  • 5 According to Pia (2018, p. 10-11), a secondary nuance of ayoré (m/ is “person who is able (...)

18The noun Ayoré (m/ is usually translated as “person,” “real person,” “human being.”5 The non-Ayoreo indigenous peoples who traditionally also lead a semi-nomadic life are called Ayoré quedejnane, literally meaning “similar, but not the same as the Ayoreo,” from ayoré (m/ “person” and quedejnane ( “different, similar but not identical.” The Ayoreo see themselves as distinctly unique in relation to the cojñone (, the non-Ayoreo, those who traditionally have stable settlements and follow the Western way of life. The term cojñoc (, cojñoi ( has no racial connotation; it has a derogatory meaning, being also used for someone (not necessarily a foreigner) who is considered foolish, coward, or without right thinking (Fischermann 1988; Higham, Morarie, and Paul 2000). For this reason, the late Gabriella Erica Pia, who established friendly and long-lasting relationships with some Ayoreo groups, reports that they did not want to consider her a cojño ( (Pia 2014, p. 18, footnote 19).

2. The etymological problem of Ayoreo

19Although it is assumed that Ayoreo is the real name of this ethnic group, there is a problem that was pointed out by Combès (2009, p. 121-127): the first contact with Zamucoan populations occurred in the 16th century, but the ethnonym Ayoreo surprisingly only emerged in the mid-20th century.

20Combès’ (2009) book Zamucos carefully analyzed the historical sources on Zamucoan peoples from the 16th century until the first half of the 20th century. Her study is impressive for the breadth and the quality of the research, and will remain the reference work for anybody interested in the history of Zamucoan populations for a long time to come. Since the first foundation of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia), in 1561, there have been continuous contacts between the Spanish world and different Zamucoan populations, including the ancestors of the present-day Ayoreo. Many ethnonyms possibly referring to Zamucoan groups were already documented in the 16th century (see also Combès 2010a), and the list has increased since, but no cognate of Ayoreo has emerged. The same applies to the published documentation on Old Zamuco and its dialects, which includes Chomé’s grammar of Old Zamuco (Chomé 1958 [ante 1745]), some materials provided by Jesuit missionaries to Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro (1784, 1786, 1787a, 1787b) and some word lists of Zamucoan dialects collected by the French traveler d’Orbigny in 1831 (Lussagnet 1961, 1962). Although Ayoreo should not be considered the historical continuation of Old Zamuco (Ciucci 2021), both languages are closely related and share most of their lexicon. The absence of any cognate for Ayoreo in the historical documentation raises the question whether Ayoreo is a term of Zamucoan origin and, if so, whether it was always used as an ethnonym. This issue is addressed in Combès (2009) and further discussed in Combès (2010b, 2018).

  • 6 This word reminds us of the Chamacoco verb -ohɨr/-orha “to steal,” corresponding to Old Zamuco -or (...)

21Bernand (1977, p. 9) noted that the term Ayoré (m/ was attested for the first time in Haekel (1955), who reported on the field notes of the Austrian ethnologist Friedrich von Horn Fitz Gibbon. The very plural form Ayoreo ( occurred for the first time as an ethnonym in Sušnik (1963), who used the variant Ayoweo, and in Califano and Tomasini (1963). Bernand (1977, p. 38) connected Ayoreo to the name of the Hório, a Chamacoco group of the past, or to Ahório, a Chamacoco ethnonym for a neighboring Otuke group. (Otuke is an extinct Bororoan language spoken in the missions of Chiquitos.) However, there is no evidence that these terms are cognates of Ayoreo. For Hório, Baldus (1932, p. 377, 391) hypothesized that it stems from the first person plural exclusive free pronoun (õryok in present-day Chamacoco), for which he reported the variants hórxio, hório, and ório. According to Richard (2008, p. 288), Hório could be translated as “thieves.”6

22Before Ayoreo appeared in the literature, it had been “discovered” by the missionaries of the New Tribes Mission. This was narrated by the missionary Jean Dye Johnson (2014 [1966]) in her memoirs on the first contacts with the Ayoreo. In San José (Bolivia) in 1943, her husband Bob Dye met a rancher of German origin, who was happy to practice his English with him. When the missionary told the rancher that he was there to contact an isolated tribe, the farmer replied that a boy of that tribe, a bárbaro (“savage”), was working for him as a servant; the boy had been captured and sold to the farmer. The rancher allowed the missionary to talk with the captive. Bob Dye asked him whether he was a bárbaro. The boy did not like that term and replied: “My people are called Ayorés.” For the missionary, Ayoré (m/ had to be the real name of this tribe (Dye Johnson 2014 [1966], p. 17).

23In 1945, Jean Dye Johnson went to San José to find an Ayoreo captive who could teach her the language. She found a woman called Inéz (Dye Johnson 2014 [1966], p. 79-90). From her, she learned that the tribe called itself Ayoré (m/ and the missionaries then began to use this term: “It was from Inez that I learned the tribe called themselves Ayorés. Among ourselves we began to abandon the general Spanish term bárbaros [i.e. savages, my translation], and refer to them mainly as the Ayorés. This helped us to think of them as individual human personalities rather than as hostile generic savages” (ibid., p. 89-90).

24After the alleged discovery of the real name of these people by the New Tribes missionaries, Ayoreo gradually replaced all other names previously used for this ethnic group, such as the exonyms Guarañoca, Moro, Tsirakua, Yanaigua, as well as the Spanish denomination salvajes or bárbaros “savages” (Combès 2010b, p. 69).

25The Chaco War (1932-1935) between Bolivia and Paraguay severely disrupted the life of the indigenous peoples in northern Chaco; new ethnonyms, such as Ayoreo, gradually emerged in the decades after the conflict (Richard 2011, p. 223). Between 1927 and the first half of 1932, the Bolivian colonel Ángel Ayoroa led a series of expeditions to explore the region in preparation for the war. During his explorations, Ángel Ayoroa established friendly relationships with the local Ayoreo groups and possibly employed Ayoreo guides. A detailed account of his expeditions can be found in Combès (2010b, 2018). As noted by Combès (2010a, p. 54), Ayoroa discovered the River Timane (see Figure 4); since Timane comes from Ayoreo, this indicates that the colonel learned the word from Ayoreo guides or a local Ayoreo group. Indeed, Timane is the Spanish adaptation of the Ayoreo compound tie jmane “branch of a river,” from tie ( “river” + jmane ( “finger” (Higham, Morarie, and Paul 2000). The compound structure is similar to Old Zamuco yote manne “branch of a river,” from yote ( “water” + manne ( “finger.”

26There is undoubtedly a remarkable similarity between the ethnonym Ayoreo and the surname Ayoroa. Considering that Ayoreo emerges after the Chaco War, Combès (2009, 2010b, 2018) has hypothesized that Ayoreo could come from Ayoroa. This might have been the result of a misunderstanding: in subsequent contacts with Western society the Ayoreo might have looked for the only white person they trusted (colonel Ayoroa), or uttered his name simply because it was the only Spanish word they knew; as a consequence, someone might have interpreted AyoreoAyoroa as the real name of the tribe. According to Combès, Ángel Ayoroa used to recount that all he was able to tell the indigenous was: “I am Ayoroa, my name is Ayoroa.” Although Combès wonders whether Ayoreo stems from Ayoroa, she has also specified that there is not enough evidence to prove such a hypothesis (2010b, p. 74). She further suggests a possible solution to the issue concerning the origin of Ayoreo: indeed, the unpublished data from Chomé’s Old Zamuco dictionary could solve the dilemma, allowing us to exclude that Ayoreo stems from Ayoroa, or providing indirect evidence for such a hypothesis. The following sections analyze these unpublished data, offering a solution to this issue.

3. The Old Zamuco dictionary

  • 7 In 2016, the collaboration of the UMSA Central Library with the two universities involved in the p (...)

27The dictionary of Old Zamuco by Ignace Chomé, Vocabulario de la lengua zamuca, is the only extant dictionary of Old Zamuco and the main source of information on the language. This section introduces the dictionary; a more detailed description can be found in Ciucci (2018). The dictionary was written between 1738 and 1739 in the mission of San Ignacio de Zamucos. As of the Jesuits’ expulsion (1767), a manuscript containing the dictionary was inventoried in the mission of Santiago de Chiquitos (Brabo 1872, p. 522). Vargas Ugarte saw the manuscript in 1931 at the Geographical Society of La Paz. Later, the document was considered lost (Lussagnet 1961), but was then located in the 1980s in the library of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz (Montaño Aragón 1987; Barnadas 1987). The dictionary is part of a collection of six volumes of grammatical and lexicographical studies on 18th-century Chiquitano (or Old Chiquitano) and Old Zamuco, attributed to Ignace Chomé. In 2014, Pier Marco Bertinetto and the present author obtained official permission from UMSA to prepare a critical edition of the whole collection. The upcoming edition of the Old Zamuco dictionary (Ciucci [ed.] forthcoming) is the first outcome of this project, which began at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and is now continuing at James Cook University.7

28The volume is a leather-bound manuscript in folio. The text of the dictionary begins on page 2 and runs until page 243. Vargas Ugarte (1931, p. 151) described the manuscript as consisting of two parts: 1. a Spanish-Old Zamuco section of about 124 pages, which is now lost; and 2. the Old Zamuco-Spanish section. This second part is what is left of the dictionary; however, many pages of the second part were also lost, including the initial ones. For this reason, one can recover the original section title only from Vargas Ugarte (1931): “Vocabulario de la lengua zamuca. Parte 2a. A.o 1738.”

  • 8 Vargas Ugarte (1931) mentioned the entry following toriga, torona “to have a dirty mouth,” which h (...)

29From Vargas Ugarte’s description, we know that the Spanish-Old Zamuco section was shorter than the Old Zamuco-Spanish one and that it was completed later, in 1739. The first section thus had shorter entries and served to cross-reference the entries of the Old Zamuco-Spanish section, which contained most information. Vargas Ugarte (1931) already indicated a large gap in the second section, which involves the entries from natu ( “cotton ball” to toriga ( “death.”8 Since there are no gaps in the page numbers, the current page numbering was added after Vargas Ugarte described the manuscript.

  • 9 The transcription follows the upcoming critical edition of the manuscript (Ciucci [ed.] forthcomin (...)

30The remaining 242 pages of the dictionary comprise about 2,110 entries (including some incomplete entries). The text of the upcoming critical edition (Ciucci [ed.] forthcoming) has about 96,763 words. If one extracts only the Old Zamuco words from the dictionary, the resulting corpus has about 43,667 words. By contrast, the corpus obtained from Chomé’s grammar and Hervás y Panduro’s data (mentioned above) has about 5,422 words. This means that the dictionary contains about eight times the amount of data that were previously available. Indeed, Chomé’s grammar often refers to the dictionary since it was conceived as complementary to it. In addition, the dictionary entries are rich in morphological forms and examples. One can see this in the entry for the verb -iraha “to know” (4a). The Spanish parts have been translated into English. I have glossed the verb paradigm, which is reported at the beginning of the entry. A detailed comment on this lexical entry is beyond the purpose of the present study but can be found in Ciucci (2018). In the rest of this paper, I report entries or parts of entries from the dictionary with their English translation, and I gloss the paradigm of the lemma. Below the translation of each entry, I report the Spanish version with the original orthography and without glosses, as in (4b).9

(4) a. Airaha (1sg), daraha (2sg), chiraha (3), pl. airahago (1pl), darahao (2pl), to know, to learn, to understand, N. ca (neg) chiraha (1sg.irr), 3.a ca (neg) diraha (3.irr); pirahac, known, etc., pos. chirahac, arahac, irahac, pl. ayirahac; pirahazore, the one who knows; pirahariga, knowledge, etc. Tupâde iraharigatie ome cuchaddoe ca iruericuz, the wisdom of God is infinite; airaha ezabedayie, I know how to read; airaha poriyie, to know how to climb a tree; airaha teutie, to come round, the one who was delirious; e airaha, ainarañumé, to be knowing; airaha quitic, to understand, to get to understand; ca diraha dirire peatic, they have bad understanding; ca araha dirire peatic, you are a brute, they consider it the supreme insult; irahezore, or, iraheque, the one who does not know; chirahezore, I am the one who does not know (lit. my unknowing one), arahezore, you are the one who does not know (lit. your unknowing one), etc., Fem. iraheto; deachatie iraheque, or, irahezore, cuchuzoda dateputigatie, etc., if someone did not know the gravity of the sin, etc.
  b. Airaha, daraha, chiraha, pl. airahago, darahao, saber, aprehender, aprender, N. ca chiraha, 3.a ca diraha; pirahac, sabido, etc., pos. chirahac, arahac, irahac, pl. ayirahac; pirahazore, el que sabe, conoce; pirahariga, conocimiento, etc.; Tupâde iraharigatie ome cuchaddoe ca iruericuz, es infinita la sabiduria de Dios; airaha ezabedayie, sé leer; airaha poriyie, saber trepar en arbol; airaha teutie, bolver en si el que desvariaba; e airaha, ainarañumé, resabiado ser; airaha quitic, comprehender, alcanzar con el entendimiento; ca diraha dirire peatic, es basto, rudo, tupido de entendimiento; ca araha dirire peatic, sois una bestia, lo tienen por suma injuria; irahezore, vel, iraheque, el que no sabe; chirahezore, yo soi el que no sabe, arahezore, tu eres el que no sabe, etc., Fem. iraheto; deachatie iraheque, vel, irahezore, cuchuzoda dateputigatie, etc., si alguno no supiere la gravedad del pecado, etc.

31From the example above, one can see that the Old Zamuco dictionary provides an impressive amount of data, which has already made it possible to expand our understanding of the language. The situation of possessive classifiers in Old Zamuco was uncertain since almost no information was available in the grammar: the data from the dictionary allowed Ciucci and Bertinetto (2019) to compare Old Zamuco classifiers with those of the other Zamucoan languages. Ciucci (2021) shows how the data on verb inflection contained in the dictionary permit us to increase our knowledge of Old Zamuco verb morphology and update the extant reconstruction of the Proto-Zamucoan verb system (Ciucci and Bertinetto 2015; Bertinetto and Ciucci 2019). The data from the dictionary are also crucial for the reconstruction of Proto-Zamucoan nominal suffixation (Ciucci and Bertinetto, forthcoming). The dictionary also contains new data on ethnonyms, which are the object of the following sections.

4. The etymology of Ayoreo

  • 10 In (7), one might interpret the compound as “surly person,” with ayihoré “person/human” as the hea (...)

32The data of the dictionary allow us to solve the issue concerning the origin of the term Ayoreo. No form related to this noun is a headword in Chomé’s dictionary. However, a cognate of Ayoreo emerges in three compounds, which occur as examples in some entries. In (5-6), there are two synonyms for “cannibal.” In both cases, the second unit of each compound is a deverbal noun derived from the verb -agu “to eat something”; the first unit is ayihoré (Chomé does not always indicate the accent). The meaning of both compounds in (5-6) suggests that ayihoré means “person, human, human being” so that “cannibal” (5-6) is literally “eater of human(s).” Similar considerations apply to “misanthrope” in (7), to be interpreted as “surly (towards) human(s).”10

  • 11 Ritual cannibalism in the Chaco was attributed to the Chiriguano (Combès 2009, p. 102; Fischermann (...)
(5) ayihore gunnore “cannibal” → ayihore (3.m/ “person/human” + gunnore ( “eater”
(6) ayihoré chagu “cannibal” → ayihoré (3.m/ “person/human” + chagu (m/ “eater”11
(7) ayihoré tuñauc “who abhors humankind, misanthrope” → ayihoré (3.m/ “person/human” + tuñauc ( “who is bad-tempered, surly”

33In (5-7), the second unit is the head of the compound; ayihoré is in singular predicative form, as being typical of the first unit of compounds. Ayihoré (3.m/ should be compared with the Ayoreo epicene predicative form Ayoré (m/ The Old Zamuco consonant /h/, possibly a hiatus filler, often corresponds to Ø in Ayoreo.

34Another inflected form of Old Zamuco “person/human” emerges in example (8). Here dayihoreoddoe (, translated as “fellow men,” is inflected for possessor and is in the third person coreferent with the subject, glossed as “refl.” This is interesting because its Ayoreo cognate cannot inflect for possessor. If one considers the possessive inflection of Old Zamuco (Ciucci 2016 [2013]), then ayihoré (3.m/ is morphologically the form of the third person non-coreferent with the subject, glossed as “3.” If the noun is inalienable, the non-reflexive third person can also be used in the absence of a possessor, as in the compounds in (5-7).

(8) Cuchuzo   ipiazutor-onnoe ahegome d-ayihore-oddoe 3.be_ashamed
  izeque ca ore ahegome Tupa-de imo-tie  
  but neg 3pl 3.be_ashamed  
  “The sinners (lit. the doers of bad things) are ashamed of their fellow men, but are not ashamed in the presence (lit. at the sight) of God.”
  • 12 In (8), Old Zamuco izeque is an adversative conjunction, but is rendered with “and” (Spanish y) by (...)

35Figure 3 shows the same sentence (example 8) in Chomé’s manuscript, along with its original Spanish translation: “los pecadores tienen verguença de sus semejantes, y no tienen verguença en presencia de Dios.”12

Fig. 3 – Detail from the manuscript of the Old Zamuco dictionary with the form dayihoreoddoe (photo: UMSA)

Fig. 3 – Detail from the manuscript of the Old Zamuco dictionary with the form dayihoreoddoe (photo: UMSA)

36The fact that ayihoré “person/human” only occurs four times in the Old Zamuco dictionary indicates that it did not have a high frequency like today’s Ayoré (m/ does. Indeed, as noted by Combès (2009, p. 124), the word used for “indigenous” or “man” in Chomé’s Old Zamuco grammar is usually nani ( This also applies to the Old Zamuco dictionary, in which nani is the usual term for “indigenous, man.” The entry of nani is reported in (9). I have glossed the initial inflected forms of nani.

(9) a. Nani (, naitie (, pl. nanio (, nanionnoe (, indigenous, man; ahihi nani hi yu, dihi nani hi gua, chihi nani hire, pl. ahihigo nani hi yoc, dihiyo nani hi guaque, to become a man, N. ca chihi nani hi yu, 3.a ca dihi nani hire; Tupâde abitie chihi nani hire nañoc icaite, God’s son became a man for us.
  b. Nani, naitie, pl. nanio, nanionnoe, indio, hombre; ahihi nani hi yu, dihi nani hi gua, chihi nani hire, pl. ahihigo nani hi yoc, dihiyo nani hi guaque, hazerse hombre, N. ca chihi nani hi yu, 3.a ca dihi nani hire; Tupâde abitie chihi nani hire nañoc icaite, el hijo de Dios se hizó [sic] hombre por nosotros.
  • 13 A possible cognate of Old Zamuco nani and Ayoreo jnani is Chamacoco ešnāniyo /eɕnaːnijo/ (Sušnik 1 (...)

37Old Zamuco nani corresponds to Ayoreo jnani ( “man.” In both languages, nani and jnani only have masculine forms since the word properly refers to a male.13 By contrast, Ayoreo “people, humans” has both masculine and feminine forms, and its singular predicative form Ayoré (m/, being epicene, can refer to either a man or a woman. Since Old Zamuco ayihoré (3.m/ is a general term for “person, human,” one can surmise that it had both masculine and feminine forms, although only dayihoreoddoe ( is documented. If an Old Zamuco or Ayoreo noun for humans has gender shift and its singular predicative form ends in a vowel, that singular predicative form is usually epicene, such as Ayoré (m/ and, most likely, ayihoré (3.m/ Some examples of Old Zamuco terms referring to humans with gender shift, and an epicene singular predicative form, are in (22) and (24-25).

38Although the data from Chomé’s dictionary show that Ayoreo is a Zamucoan term, there is no evidence that ayihoré was used in the 18th century as an ethnonym. The Ayoreo term for “person, human” very likely turned into an ethnonym after the Chaco War (Richard 2008, 2011); the dynamics of this change are addressed in Section 9.

5. The self-designation of the Zamuco proper in the 18th century

  • 14 Yurakaré, an isolate, has chajmu “dog” (Gijn 2006), which is a look-alike of these terms.

39The contribution of the dictionary to Zamucoan ethnonymy is not limited to the term Ayoreo. The term Zamuco is very likely an exonym, which comes from Old Chiquitano tamocos /tamo'koʂ/ “dog”; the same word is also found in neighboring Arawak languages: “dog” is tamuku in Terêna (Silva 2013, p. 239) and in its variety Kinikinau (Souza 2008, p. 72); Chané, an extinct Terêna variety, had tamúco “dog” (Carvalho 2016, p. 51); tamucu “dog” is further found in Old Mojeño and Mojeño Ignaciano (Combès and Hirtzel 2007).14 Chané people also used similar terms (chamoco, aamoco) to refer to some populations living in the Chaco (Combès 2009, p. 14-15). It is possible that “dog” in these Arawak languages is a borrowing from Old Chiquitano tamocos (Carvalho 2016, p. 51). If this is so, tamocos might derive from the Old Chiquitano deverbal noun aumocos “snort of the jaguar, cat, yelp of the dog, pig,” from the verb umoco ( “to yelp” (Adam and Henry 1880; Chomé n.d. [ante 1767]), or from a cognate in another Chiquitano variety.

40Boggiani (1894) suggests that Chamacoco (another exonym) derives from Zamuco; this is possible but not certain (on this issue, see also Richard 2008). Related to Zamuco is Ayoreo tamoko ( “dog,” which was borrowed from Old Chiquitano and is not found in the other Zamucoan languages. For “dog,” Old Zamuco has potit ( and Chamacoco pohoch (; this is possibly the result of a previous borrowing from Guaycuruan (Ciucci 2014, p. 32).

41In the dictionary, we find the endonym equivalent to Zamuco. It has no dedicated entry, but occurs in the following examples:

(10) Homeraa-nnoe ore yez aha San_Juan 3pl get_together prep San Juan
  ogazor-onnoe ihi ugar-itie ome da-rugubie-tae, prep prep
  ome amuna-nnoe.        
  “The Zamuco get together in a field along with those from San Juan for an expedition to the unbelievers.”
(11) A-ipugudegu carai-o iru-oddoe hi
  1sg-translate prep
  homerâ-o iru-oddoe    
  “I translate from Spanish into Zamuco.”
(12) Homera-nnoe d-iozochêre carapaen-onnoe=ri 3.irr-defeat
  “The Zamuco will defeat the Carapaeno.”

42The self-designation of the Zamuco was thus Homerâ-o (, Homeraa-nnoe/Homera-nnoe (, with the root being Homerâ(a)-. Note that vowel nasality is often omitted in Chomé’s orthography, and /a/ was certainly realized as [ã] owing to nasal harmony. It is also unclear whether the root ended in -âa or -â: for this reason, the second vowel is indicated in parenthesis. The meaning of Homerâ(a)- is unknown, and the noun itself is surprising since it is not mentioned in any other historical source. In addition, in (11) one can see that the Zamuco called their language Homerâo iruoddoe. This self-designation for the Old Zamuco language was previously unknown. Like the other Zamucoan languages, Old Zamuco did not have a specific term to refer to a language so that the plural of “word” is used: in (11) Old Zamuco is literally “the words of the Zamuco” (Homerâo iruoddoe), and Spanish “the words of the Spaniards” (Caraio iruoddoe) (on “Spaniards,” see example 18). Similarly, the Ayoreo language is Ayore-ode uru-ode ( “the words of the Ayoreo,” and the Chamacoco language Ɨshɨr(-o) ahwos-o ( “the words of the Chamacoco.”

43Since Homerâ(a)- was the autochthonous root for “Zamuco,” one has to define the scope of the referent. Indeed, the ethnonym Zamuco in the 18th century had two senses: 1. it could be used as a general term to refer to all Zamucoan groups, that is, to those groups speaking several varieties (or dialects) of what was considered the same language (Old Zamuco); and 2. the term could refer to just one of these groups, the Zamuco sensu stricto; their dialect was the one chosen for the evangelization of Zamucoan peoples and described by Chomé. The fact that all Zamucoan populations were named after one single group indicates that there was possibly no single term to refer to the totality of Zamucoan groups. For this reason, one can assume that Homerâ(a)- had the sense of 2, that is, it just referred to the Zamuco proper within the broader group of Zamucoan peoples.

6. New data for 18th-century Zamucoan ethnonyms

44In her analysis of the 18th-century sources, Combès (2009, p. 47-71) distinguished 13 Zamucoan groups (leaving aside subgroups): (1) Morotoco; (2) Carerá; (3) Cucutade; (4) Zamuco proper; (5) Zatieno; (6) Ugaroño/Ugarono; (7) Caypotorade; (8) Tunacho; (9) Imono; (10) Carao; (11) Timinaha; (12) Panana; and (13) Tomoeno. These groups varied in number, and there were cultural differences between them. For instance, the Zamuco men shaved their heads, while the Caypotorade and Tunacho had horses (Combès 2009, p. 67); these cultural traits are not found among the Ayoreo, who share some cultural similarities with the Zamuco proper (Ciucci 2019, [ed.] forthcoming).

45While a general view of Chaco (or Gran Chaco) languages was presented in Figure 1, Figure 4 focuses on the northern Chaco and the Chiquitania region of Bolivia, showing the Jesuit missions and the putative territory of each Zamucoan group in the 18th century (Lussagnet 1961, p. 195; Joachín Camaño apud Jolís 1789). The map also indicates the three alleged locations of San Ignacio de Zamucos as proposed in the literature (Combès 2010b, p. 49). However, the hypothesis that the mission was close to the River Timane is the most likely one (Combès 2009, p. 30). Further support for this hypothesis is provided by Pia (2014, p. 39, footnote 125). The Zamucoan groups living in each mission reflect the situation of 1745 for San Ignacio de Zamucos, and that of 1766 for the other missions (Combès 2009, p. 76-79). The map also features the neighboring populations in the 18th century, such as the Chiquito (the present-day Chiquitano or Monkóka), who were the dominant group in the Jesuit missions of the area (named after them), and the Mbayá (the present-day Kadiwéu).

Fig. 4 – The Zamucoan groups in the 18th century (map Ciucci, 2021)

Fig. 4 – The Zamucoan groups in the 18th century (map Ciucci, 2021)
  • 15 The order of the dialects was changed with respect to Hervás y Panduro’s text.

46The Zamucoan peoples met by the Jesuits were not linguistically homogeneous. Indeed, following Hervás y Panduro (1787a, p. 31-32), one could distinguish four different Zamucoan “dialects”: 1. Old Zamuco proper (spoken by the Zamuco proper and the Zatieno); 2. the dialect of the Ugaroño or Ugarono (here referred to as Ugaroño); 3. the Morotoco dialect, spoken by the Morotoco, Carerá, Cucutade, Panana, and Tomoeno; and 4. the Caypotorade dialect, spoken by the Caypotorade, Carao, Imono, Timinaha, and Tunacho.15

  • 16 These data were analyzed by Kelm (1964), who noted that 19th-century Morotoco showed considerable (...)

47The first dialect was chosen as the standard variety by the Jesuits and therefore described in the Old Zamuco dictionary; along with Ugaroño and Morotoco, it was spoken in the mission of San Ignacio de Zamucos. According to Hervás y Panduro, there was no consensus that Old Zamuco and Ugaroño were two different dialects. This may indicate that they were relatively similar, and that Ugaroño was closer to Old Zamuco than Morotoco and Caypotorade. In San Ignacio, over a hundred people belonged to the Cucutade group, who spoke the Morotoco dialect (Combès 2009, p. 76). The only data available for the Morotoco dialect were collected by d’Orbigny (Lussagnet 1961, 1962), but the dialect had very likely undergone remarkable changes with respect to the 18th century (see below).16 Hervás y Panduro (1787a) did not mention the Carao, but they were usually associated with the Caypotorade-speaking groups so that one can surmise that they spoke the same dialect. The Caypotorade speakers were the easternmost Zamucoan groups, and they might have been closer to the present-day Chamacoco than the other groups (Combès 2009, p. 67-69). The Caypotorade dialect is undocumented, and its speakers lived in other missions than San Ignacio de Zamucos. Between the four Zamucoan dialects, there was possibly some sort of mutual intelligibility, considering that these groups were able to communicate with each other (ibid., p. 67).

  • 17 Also the variant Ugarono is attested in historical documents: this is either a misspelling of Ugar (...)
  • 18 The term utet “lizard” was also documented by d’Orbigny in 1831 for two Zamucoan dialects, Poturer (...)

48Chomé’s dictionary also offers some data on other ethnonyms used in Old Zamuco. The following example confirms that Ugaroño is a Zamucoan term: in Old Zamuco, Ugaroronnoe is its masculine plural argument form (13). The selection of -onnoe (, instead of its allomorph -oddoe, indicates that there was nasality in the root Ugaror- /ugarõr-/. Considering the morphology of the language (Ciucci 2016 [2013]), the expected masculine plural of the predicative form is precisely Ugaroño (, the form used in Spanish.17 From another entry (14), one can infer that eating a type of lizard, called utet, was a peculiarity of the Ugaroño.18 Such information is not found in any other source.

(13) Ugaror-onnoe desicare ite
  Ugaroñ this_one
  “This one is a descendant of the Ugaroño.”
(14) a. Utet (, uteitie (, pl. utecho (, utedoddoe (, lizard, iguana that the Ugaroño eat.
  b. Utet, uteitie, pl. utecho, utedoddoe, lagartija, iguana que comen los ugaroños.
  • 19 Other variants found in the historical sources are less correct: caitoporade, caipotade, capipotor (...)

49Caypotorade (also spelled Caipotorade) is one of the few 18th-century Zamucoan ethnonyms with a transparent meaning:19 the Jesuit Father Michael Streicher wrote in 1753 that Caypotorade meant “the ostriches” (Combès 2009, p. 65, 203). The ethnonym finds some cognates in the Zamucoan dialects documented by d’Orbigny (see below), which confirms Streicher’s assertion. The term for “ostrich” is not in Chomé’s grammar, but there is a short entry in Chomé’s dictionary (15):

(15) a. Caipotore (, caipotoritie (, pl. caipotoño (, caipotoronnoe ( ostrich.
  b. Caipotore, caipotoritie, pl. caipotoño, caipotoronnoe, avestruz.

50The data in (15) confirm the meaning of Caypotorade; however, this very form of the ethnonym seems to be proper of a dialect other than Old Zamuco. Caypotorade ( ends in -de, an allomorph for the masculine plural argument form, and corresponds to Old Zamuco caipotoronnoe ( “ostrich”; the same ending -de (or more precisely -(o)de, see below) is found in the ethnonyms Cucutade ( and Quiripecode ( (The latter was a subgroup of the Zamuco sensu stricto according to Combès 2009.)

  • 20 In Quiripecode, the suffix might be -ode, if the root is Quiripec-, but this is uncertain; if the (...)
  • 21 Geminated consonants were possibly not distinctive in Old Zamuco (see footnote 1).

51The plural suffix of Caypotorade, Cucutade, and Quiripecode corresponds to -(o)de ( in Ayoreo and -(o)ddoe ( in Old Zamuco; in both languages, the vowel /o/ deletes if the root ends with /a/. The same occurs in Caypotora-de ( and Cucuta-de ( these ethnonyms have the same masculine plural argument suffix -(o)de ( as in Ayoreo. This is evidence that Ayoreo -(o)de ( does not directly stem from Old Zamuco -(o)ddoe (, but was already present in the Zamucoan dialects spoken in the 18th century. The Old Zamuco allomorph -oddoe /-odoe/ ( is in Guitetarodoe (, the ethnonym of an unclassified Zamucoan group (Combès 2009, p. 56-57).21

  • 22 This is shown by Lussagnet’s (1961, 1962) comparison of the Samucu dialect with 18th-century Old Z (...)

52Let us now focus on the root of Caypotora-de ( it shows no nasality, which is instead present in its Old Zamuco cognate form caipotoronnoe ( “ostrich.” Indeed, in caipotor-onnoe, the suffix -(o)ddoe turns into -(o)nnoe owing to nasal harmony, which implies root nasality, although this was often not indicated in Chomé’s transcription. The root of Old Zamuco “ostrich” is caipotor-, without the final /a/ (unlike Caypotora-de). This is further evidence that Caypotorade comes from a Zamucoan dialect other than Old Zamuco. One can hypothesize that Caypotorade is a Morotoco form (Combès 2009, p. 65); indeed, the Morotoco were the first Zamucoan group met by the Jesuits, and they were instrumental in contacting the Caypotorade. Furthermore, d’Orbigny in 1831 documented “ostrich” in four Zamucoan dialects: upoton in Guarañoca, aypoton in Poturero, and Samucu (the latter, possibly the continuation of Old Zamuco), and kaipoto in Morotoco (Lussagnet 1962, p. 43). In d’Orbigny’s data, “ostrich” exhibits nasality in all dialects but Morotoco. Although these are hints to say that Caypotorade comes from Morotoco, one cannot wholly exclude the Caypotorade or the Ugaroño dialect. Indeed, it is hard to identify the Guarañoca and Poturero of d’Orbigny with a particular dialectal group of the 18th century (Combès 2009, p. 88, 93-97) because of the mixing of the various groups that had occurred in the missions. For this reason, the 19th-century Samucu and Morotoco, two dialects already identified in the previous century, also underwent several changes with respect to the 18th century.22

53Like Caypotorade, the ethnonym Cucutade ( also displays the suffix -(o)de and root ending with /a/, Cucuta-. Cucuta- should be compared with the Old Zamuco form cucudda ( (16).

(16) a. Cucudda (, cucuddatie (, pl. cucuddao (, cucuddaddoe (, small animal, like a rabbit, whose teeth were used as a knife.
  b. Cucudda, cucuddatie, pl. cucuddao, cucuddaddoe, animalito, como conejo, cuyos dientes les servian de cuchillo.

54There is no perfect coincidence between Cucuta- and cucudda. Indeed, the plural suffix ‑(o)de shows that Cucuta-de comes from another dialect than Old Zamuco, otherwise the suffix should be ‑(o)ddoe. From Chomé’s definition, one can infer that cucudda was a small rodent, most likely the Bolivian tuco-tuco (Ctenomys boliviensis), which in Ayoreo is designated by cucujna /kukun̥a/ ( (Pia 2018, p. 41), a cognate of Old Zamuco cucudda. There are two cognates of these terms in d’Orbigny’s data: Poturero kukuxna and Morotoco kukuta. If the phonological interpretation of Poturero kukuxna is /kukun̥a/, then the term is the same as in Ayoreo, and Poturero also displays the voiceless nasal, which never emerges in Chomé’s Old Zamuco data. The Morotoco noun kukuta, possibly the singular predicative form, is identical to Cucuta- /kukuta-/, the root of Cucutade. This suggests that, like Caypotorade, Cucutade comes from the Morotoco dialect, which the Cucutade themselves also spoke. This is also further evidence that the Morotoco dialect had the masculine plural argument suffix -(o)de, the same as in Ayoreo.

55Although these data offer enough evidence for the etymology of Cucutade, there is a minor issue concerning the translation of d’Orbigny’s data. Indeed, d’Orbigny translated Poturero kukuxna and Morotoco kukuta as “capybara” (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), like the Samucu term okunana, which has a different root. While the Bolivian tuco-tuco is a small rodent, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent. We do not know whether there was a mistake by d’Orbigny or a semantic shift in some dialects so that it is difficult to say whether Cucutade means “tuco-tucos” or “capybaras.” At any rate, there is a connection between both rodents; indeed, in Ayoreo “capybara” is cucujnagajnui (, a compound of cucujna ( “Bolivian tuco-tuco” + gajnui ( “similar”: the capybara is literally the animal “similar to the tuco-tuco.” Such a semantic association may explain either a mistake in d’Orbigny’s data collection or a semantic change.

  • 23 The term is also spelled as cucarãt in Ayoreo.

56The Cucutade are also referred to as Cucarate in the historical sources. Although the two nouns are similar, Cucarate is not a variant of Cucutade, but they are different lexemes referring to the same tribe. Cucarate reminds one of the singular predicative form cucarât (, identical in both Old Zamuco and Ayoreo. The final /e/ of Cucarate may be a vowel that is often added to Old Zamuco and Ayoreo words ending in a voiceless consonant; however, since the historical documents mention the Cucarates, /e/ may be part of the Spanish plural -(e)s. Leaving aside such an ambiguity, cucarât ( is translated as “boulder, rock, hill, mountainous area” in Old Zamuco, while it is “mountain, hill” in Ayoreo; kukarat ( “mountain” is attested in 19th-century Morotoco (Lussagnet 1962, p. 39). Like Cucarate, Morotoco kukarat shows no nasality. By contrast, Old Zamuco and Ayoreo cucarât has nasality (<â> stands for the nasal vowel /ã/).23 Similarly, the other words for “mountain” collected by d’Orbigny have a nasal consonant (/n/): see Guarañoca kukunanita (, Poturero and Samucu kukanat ( (ibid.). The lack of nasality in Morotoco suggests that Cucarate was used by a Morotoco-speaking group. In addition, not only spoke the Cucarate the Morotoco dialect, but they had been contacted through the Morotoco proper (Combès 2009, p. 49). Cucarate possibly referred to a physical characteristic of this group’s territory, which hosted the mission of San Ignacio (ibid., p. 50).

57Not all 18th-century Zamucoan ethnonyms are morphologically plural argument forms: Ugaroño, for instance, is a plural predicative form. In Tunacho, the final -cho is a possible ending for the masculine plural predicative form; this may also be a Zamucoan term, with the root *tunat or *tunac, but its meaning is unknown. In Chomé’s dictionary, the most similar form is tuñaucho (, from tuñauc ( “who is bad-tempered, surly” (see example 7); however, this is not the same term unless it is a form of another dialect.

58In the 18th-century historical data analyzed by Combès (2009), the ethnonyms of some non-Zamucoan groups display a Zamucoan masculine plural argument suffix, which means that these ethnonyms were used by some Zamucoan-speaking populations. For instance, the Caynaconoe were an Arawak group, also known as Equiniquinao (ibid., p. 290); the final -onoe is most likely the Old Zamuco allomorph -onnoe /-onoe/ (

59Some ethnonyms discussed above, possibly from Morotoco, have the suffix -(o)de (, identical to present-day Ayoreo; -(o)de turns into -(o)ne owing to nasal harmony. We find -ne (after /a/) in the names of the Chaarayane and the Curucane. The Chaarayane were an Arawak group, also known as Choyara (Combès 2009, p. 56). The Curucane were an Otuke group present in the Jesuit missions; they were contacted through the Morotoco and entered the missions along with the Carerá, who spoke the same dialect as the Morotoco (ibid., p. 50, 70, 290). Chaarayane and Curucane are not in the Old Zamuco dictionary, and their meaning is unknown; what is interesting here again is the possible association between the Morotoco dialect and the plural masculine suffixes -(o)de/-(o)ne (

7. Other ethnonyms and terms for human groups in the Old Zamuco dictionary

60This section analyzes other ethnonyms and generic terms for human groups that occur in Chomé’s dictionary. In example (12), repeated in (17), the Zamuco are opposed to the Carapaeno, mentioned in the masculine plural argument form Carapaenonnoe ( Considering that -onnoe was the masculine plural argument form suffix, the root was Carapaen-, and Carapaen-o (with suffix -o) was the masculine plural predicative form. We do not know the meaning of the ethnonym.

(17) Homera-nnoe d-iozochêre carapaen-onnoe=ri 3.irr-defeat
  “The Zamuco will defeat the Carapaeno.”

61The Carapaeno ( are mentioned only once in the dictionary. Not much is known about this population, meaning their ethnic and linguistic affiliation is uncertain. According to the available historical sources (Combès 2009, p. 48, 68, 288), they had horses and were similar to the Terêna, so one might hypothesize that they were Arawak people. They lived more to the south than the Jesuit mission of Santo Corazón. In 1732, some Carapaeno followed Father Augustín Castañares, and went to live in the mission of San Ignacio de Zamucos. Tomichá Charupá (2002, p. 276-277) considers the Carapaeno a Zamucoan group.

62In example (11), we have already seen that, in Old Zamuco, the Spanish language was literally “the words of the Spaniards” (Caraio iruoddoe). The term for “Spaniard,” Carai (, does not emerge in the grammar, but there is a dictionary entry for it (8). Carai is a clear borrowing from Old Guaraní Carai, used for the Spaniards (Montoya 1639, p. 90).

(18) a. Carai (, caraitie (, pl. caraio (, carairao (, Spaniard; carai dacap, Spaniard, you eat little, they say so about something to eat that is little for them.
  b. Carai, caraitie, pl. caraio, carairao, español; carai dacap, español, comes poco, assi dizen a cosa de comida que es poco para ellos.

63In Section 1, I have mentioned the opposition between Ayoreo and cojñone (, the “non-Ayoreo.” An Old Zamuco cognate of the latter term is in Chomé’s grammar: coyoc ( “enemy,” coyogue ( “woman who fights.” Coyoc is also a headword in Chomé’s dictionary, which provides more morphological information (19). In (20), the corresponding Ayoreo forms are reported: the most striking difference is that Old Zamuco coyoc can inflect for possessor, whereas Ayoreo cojñoc cannot. This is the same difference noted in Section 4 between Old Zamuco ayihoré (3.m/ “person, human being” and Ayoré (m/

(19) a. Coyoc (, coyotie (, pl. coyocho (, coyoddoe (, enemy in war, pos. yugoyoc (, agoyoc (, ugoyoc (, pl. ayugoyoc (1pl/, Fem. coyogue (
  b. Coyoc, coyotie, pl. coyocho, coyoddoe, enemigo en la guerra, pos. yugoyoc, agoyoc, ugoyoc, pl. ayugoyoc, Fem. coyogue.
(20)   Ayoreo: cojñoc (, cojñoi (, cojñocho (, cojñone (, cojño ( “non-Ayoreo.”

64Old Zamuco has another term to refer to outsiders, amuna (m/ (21); as explained by Chomé, amuna is a general term for all of those peoples who did not have the same native language as the Zamuco. There is also an antonym, iruaza (3.m/, referring to those who spoke the same native language (22); the term derives from iru ( “word.” One can wonder whether, in this case, “language” only referred to Old Zamuco or also to the other mutually intelligible Zamucoan dialects. One can hypothesize that the scope of the term was variable and that it could include all Zamucoan dialects. The presence of terms such as amuna ( and iruaza (3.m/ means that language played a crucial role in the identity of the Zamucoan groups, despite some cultural differences and rivalries between groups (e.g. the Zamuco proper had bad relations with the Ugaroño). If the Homerâ-o ( ( (10-11) were only the Zamuco sensu stricto, it is possible that iruaza (22) might have been used to indicate all peoples speaking Zamucoan dialects, while amuna would have indicated all the neighboring populations speaking other languages. As suggested by one reviewer, Old Zamuco iruaza is a cognate of Ayoreo urasa (3.m/, which refers to a member of the same group (23).

(21) a. Amuna (, amunatie (, pl. amunao (, amunannoe (, foreigner, who does not have the same language; they call like that also the unbelievers because they do not have the same language.
  b. Amuna, amunatie, pl. amunao, amunannoe, estrangero, que no es de su lengua; assi llaman tambien a los infieles por no ser de su lengua.
(22) a. Iruaza (3.m/, iruazatie (, iruazatae (, pl. iruazao (, iruazai (, iruazaddoe (, iruazayie (, those who have the same language, pos. chiruaza (1sg.m/, aruaza (2sg.m/, iruaza (3.m/, pl. ayiruaza (1pl/2pl.m/
  b. Iruaza, iruazatie, iruazatae, pl. iruazao, iruazai, iruazaddoe, iruazayie, los de una misma lengua, pos. chiruaza, aruaza, iruaza, pl. ayiruaza.
(23)   Ayoreo: urasa (3.m/, urasai (, urasa (, urasade ( “countryman, person belonging to the same group.”

65In the dictionary, there are also two terms that refer to the Chiriguano (Tupí-Guaraní). To the best of my knowledge, these terms are not known in any other historical source.

(24) a. Chimemeroca (m/, chimemerocatie (, chimemerocatae (, pl. chimemerocao (, chimemerocai (, chimemerocaddoe (, chimemerocayie (, Chiriguano.
  b. Chimemeroca, chimemerocatie, chimemerocatae, pl. chimemerocao, chimemerocai, chimemerocaddoe, chimemerocayie, chirigüano.
(25) a. Uyaya (m/, uyayatie (, uyayatae (, pl. uyayao (, uyayai (, uyayaddoe (, uyayayie (, those of the Chiriguano nation.
  b. Uyaya, uyayatie, uyayatae, pl. uyayao, uyayai, uyayaddoe, uyayayie, los de la nacion chiriguana.

66We do not know whether there was any distinction concerning the use of these terms since there are no examples in the dictionary.

8. Ethnonyms used by Zamucoan peoples in the 18th century: a summary

67The following tables summarize the ethnonyms whose morphology was analyzed in Sections 6 and 7. The data come from Combès’ (2009) analysis of the available historical sources and Chomé’s Old Zamuco dictionary (Ciucci [ed.] forthcoming). The latter reports several ethnonyms documented for the first time. The corresponding morphological glosses are next to each form. Table 3 shows the ethnonyms referring to Zamucoan groups, the dialect spoken by the designated group, the name’s etymology and the dialect in which a given ethnonym was used.

Table 3 – Ethnonyms for Zamucoan groups in the 18th century

Ethnonym of the group Zamucoan dialect spoken by the group Source of the data Etymology Zamucoan dialect in which it was used
Homerâo (, Homeraannoe/Homerannoe ( [Zamuco proper] Old Zamuco Ciucci (ed.) forthcoming unknown Old Zamuco
Quiripecode ( [subgroup of the Zamuco proper] Combès 2009, p. 53-54 unknown Morotoco
Ugaroño (, Ugaroronnoe ( Ugaroño Combès 2009, p. 55; Ciucci (ed.) forthcoming unknown Old Zamuco
Cucutade ( Morotoco Combès 2009, p. 50-51 from “tuco-tuco” or “capybara” Morotoco
Cucarate (possibly [alternative name for the Cucutade] Combès 2009, p. 50-51 from “mountain, hill” Morotoco
Caypotorade ( Caypotorade Combès 2009, p. 57-59 from “ostrich” Morotoco
Tunacho (possibly Combès 2009, p. 59-60 possibly from “bad-tempered, surly” unknown

68Table 4 features ethnonyms used by Old Zamuco or Morotoco speakers for non-Zamucoan groups. When the whole paradigm is available, as for Chimemeroca “Chiriguano,” only a singular and a plural form are reported. We do not know the etymology of the names in Table 4. The only exception is Carai “Spaniard,” which stems from Old Guaraní.

Table 4 – Ethnonyms used in Old Zamuco and Morotoco for non-Zamucoan peoples

Ethnonym used in Zamucoan Referent Source of the data Etymology Zamucoan dialect in which it was used
Caynaconoe ( an Arawak group, also known as Equiniquinao Combès 2009, p. 290 unknown Old Zamuco
Chaarayane ( an Arawak group Combès 2009, p. 56 unknown Morotoco
Curucane ( an Otuke group Combès 2009, p. 50, 70 unknown Morotoco
Carapaeno (, Carapaenonnoe ( an Arawak group (less likely a Zamucoan one) Combès 2009, p. 48, 68; Ciucci (ed.) forthcoming unknown Old Zamuco
Carai (, Caraio ( the Spaniards Ciucci (ed.) forthcoming from Old Guaraní Carai “Spaniard” Old Zamuco
Chimemeroca (m/, Chimemerocaio ( the Chiriguano (Tupí-Guaraní) Ciucci (ed.) forthcoming unknown Old Zamuco
Uyaya (m/, Uyayao ( the Chiriguano (Tupí-Guaraní) Ciucci (ed.) forthcoming unknown Old Zamuco

69Sections 6 and 7 have shown how the morphological analysis of ethnonyms can be combined with historical data to identify the dialect in which a given name was used, and to increase our knowledge of that dialect. Next to ethnonyms from Old Zamuco, one can identify ethnonyms from the Morotoco dialect, of which very little is known in the 18th century. The presence of Morotoco words in the historical sources might be explained by the fact that the Morotoco served as guides and interpreters for the Jesuit fathers who explored the Zamucoan territory (Combès 2009, p. 49).

9. The emergence of the ethnonym Ayoreo

  • 24 Chamacoco Maro ( has the masculine singular predicative form Mariyak. The latter can be compa (...)

70In Section 4, I have shown that the term Ayoreo has a cognate in Old Zamuco so that it is a Zamucoan word. However, Ayoreo turned into an ethnonym only recently. Richard (2008, 2011) has noted that in the northern Chaco new indigenous ethnonyms, including Ayoreo, have emerged after the Chaco War (1932-1935). In the literature, each new ethnonym has been considered the endonym of the respective ethnicity, the “real name” that was eventually discovered. If this is so, Ayoreo “people, human beings” is far from a unique case. A similar situation occurred with the Chamacoco people. After the Chaco War, Chamacoco began to alternate with Ɨshɨro ( or Ɨshɨr (with deletion of the final vowel), meaning “the people, the indigenous” in Chamacoco (or Ɨshɨr ahwoso, see Section 5); within Mataguayan, Mataco was replaced by Wichi, Chulupí by Nivaĉle. (More examples are in Richard 2008, 2011.) Significantly, the new layer of endonyms have the same meaning of “people,” “human beings.” This led some scholars to talk about the ethnocentrism of these populations, who denied the humanity of their neighbors. Such an assumption was criticized by Viveiros de Castro (1998) in general and Richard (2008, 2011) for Chaco languages. In addition, the new endonyms have also acquired the meaning of “indigenous” in opposition to the non-indigenous: the contrast between the Ayoreo and the cojñone ( “non-Ayoreo” is similar to the one in Chamacoco between the Ɨshɨro and the Maro ( “Paraguayans.”24 The ethnonyms used in the Chaco before the war were exonyms having a myriad of different meanings, which is in stark contrast to the homogeneous situation of present-day ethnonyms sharing the same meaning (Richard 2008, 2011).

  • 25 Tsaúka is the plural of the female speech, corresponding to Mayutsaúka in the male speech (data fr (...)

71The Chaco War dramatically changed the living conditions of the indigenous populations and their interethnic relations; the new ethnonyms reflect this situation. Before the war, the different ethnicities were divided into small local groups. They did not perceive themselves as a unitary subject since their local political identity prevailed over cultural or linguistic identity. The name of each ethnicity was an exonym attributed by the people through whom the contact occurred so that the variety of ethnonyms reflected the network of relations among different groups (Richard 2008, 2011). This implied that an ethnic group had different names given by various intermediaries, or, vice versa, that diverse populations could have the same name given by the same intermediary. For instance, the different names for the Ayoreo before the Chaco War depended on who contacted them: in Paraguay, they were known as Moro because the Chamacoco called them Hmoro (; another name for the Ayoreo, Tsirakua, probably comes from Tapiete (Tupí-Guaraní) sɨrakwa “hunting rod” (González 2005, p. 357); for the Chiquitano, the Ayoreo were the Tsaúka (pl) “the savages.”25 The two previously unknown names given to the Chiriguano by the Old Zamuco-speaking people are in (24-25). Considering the complex network of relations in northern Chaco, our knowledge of the ethnonyms is incomplete, and it is often extremely difficult, if not impossible, to identify the ethnic groups based on their ethnonyms, as shown by Combès (2009, 2010a).

72The new layer of ethnonyms emerged after the Chaco War had disrupted the interethnic relations, and the colonization of the area had forced many groups to relocate. The indigenous ethnic ties and the language thus acquired a new salience, particularly in the context of the missions. The North American missionaries “discovered” the real name of the Ayoreo. Similarly, the alleged self-designation of the Chamacoco, Ɨshɨr(o), came out through the evangelical missionaries in Bahía Negra when the Chamacoco lost contact with their indigenous neighbors (Richard 2008, p. 46). Something similar occurred with the Chiquitano (who recently renamed themselves Monkóka), who in the 18th century were called Chiquitos (see Figure 4); like the Zamucoan peoples, the Chiquitano were divided into many local groups. Chiquitos was an exonym that suggested an unpleasant paretymological interpretation to the native speakers. Indeed, in their language, chiquis “egg” metaphorically extended to “testicle” (Martínez 2015), and this polysemy remains in today’s language. For this reason, in the Jesuit missions a new “self-designation” was adopted: m’oñeỹca /moɲeɨ̃ka/, meaning “the men, the indigenous” in the male speech (Martínez 2015; Adam and Henry 1880). Endonyms meaning “the people, the humans” are widespread also outside the Chaco. According to Viveiros de Castro (1998, p. 475-477), these nouns for “people/humans” often have the pragmatic use of pronouns, and their scope is variable; this permits the shift of “people/humans” as ethnonyms through the intervention of ethnographers or missionaries.


73Based on new linguistic data, this paper has presented some findings concerning Zamucoan ethnonymy in the 18th century, and has discussed the etymology of Ayoreo. The most significant events directly or indirectly connected with the ethnonym Ayoreo are summarized in Table 5.

Table 5 – A chronology of the main events related to the term Ayoreo

1724 Foundation of the mission of San Ignacio de Zamucos. Old Zamuco is chosen as the language of evangelization.
1738-1739 The Jesuit Father Ignace Chomé writes an Old Zamuco dictionary. The term ayihoré is attested four times with the meaning of “person, human.” It does not refer to any ethnic group.
1745 Abandonment of San Ignacio de Zamucos. The evangelization of Zamucoan peoples continues in the missions of Chiquitos but with a different language, Old Chiquitano.
1767 Expulsion of the Jesuits. Subsequent reorganization of Zamucoan groups not living in the missions.
1927-1932 Several expeditions to northern Chaco led by the Bolivian colonel Ángel Ayoroa establish friendly relationships with some Ayoreo groups (no etymological connection between Ayoroa and Ayoreo).
1932-1935 The Chaco War disrupts the life and interethnic relations of the indigenous groups of northern Chaco. Emergence of a new layer of ethnonyms after the war.
1943-1945 The evangelical missionaries Bob Dye and Jean Dye Johnson learn that Ayoré (a term meaning “person, human being”) is the “real name” of the tribe they want to evangelize. The Ayoreo had previously been known as Guarañoca, Moro, Tsirakua, and Yanaigua, among others.
1955 The ethnonym Ayoré is attested for the first time in the scientific literature in Haekel (1955).
1963 The plural form Ayoreo is used as an ethnonym in the literature (Sušnik 1963; Califano and Tomasini 1963).

74Although the term Ayoreo is documented for the first time in the 1940s (Section 2), its cognate ayihoré “person, human” is attested in the 18th century in Old Zamuco (Section 4). The fact that ayihoré was not an ethnonym in the 18th century confirms that Ayoreo “person, human” recently turned into an ethnonym. Indeed, after the Chaco War, several populations of the area acquired new ethnonyms: all of them meant “the people, the humans” in their respective language and were considered the real self-designation of each ethnic group (Section 9).

75Zamuco is an exonym initially used for one Zamucoan group. The endonym of the Zamuco proper emerges for the first time in Chomé’s Old Zamuco dictionary: the Zamuco called themselves Homerâo (, Homera(a)nnoe (, and their language, now known as Old Zamuco, was called Homerâo iruoddoe (Section 5). Old Zamuco had a term for those who spoke the same language (iruaza, example 22) and another for those who spoke a different language (amuna, example 21): this indicates the salience of the language in the definition of the ethnic identity of Zamucoan populations; two new Old Zamuco ethnonyms for the Chiriguano (Tupí-Guaraní) have also emerged (example 24-25). We know many ethnonyms documented in the 18th century for Zamucoan populations (Combès 2009); for some of them, the data from the Old Zamuco dictionary allow us to better understand their morphology, their meaning and whether they were used in Old Zamuco or another Zamucoan dialect (Section 6).

76Some ethnonyms analyzed in this paper, such as Caypotorade and Cucutade, end in -de/-ne. The Caypotorade and Cucutade were two Zamucoan groups whose names do not come from Old Zamuco but from Morotoco, another 18th-century Zamucoan dialect. However, Caypotorade and Cucutade have cognates in Chomé’s dictionary, which indicates that final -de should be analyzed as the plural suffix -(o)de ( (/o/ deleted after root-final /a/). This suffix is the same as present-day Ayoreo -(o)de (, but differs from Old Zamuco -(o)ddoe ( This is important for the internal classification of Zamucoan languages: indeed, the plural suffix documented today in Ayoreo, -(o)de (, was already present in at least one 18th-century Zamucoan dialect and does not directly stem from Old Zamuco -(o)ddoe ( This finding constitutes further evidence that Ayoreo should not be considered the direct continuation of Old Zamuco, but rather stems from one or more Zamucoan dialects documented in the 18th century. Besides, the verb paradigms in the Old Zamuco dictionary (Ciucci 2021) show some innovations with respect to Old Zamuco and Ayoreo. The present analysis has further shown that other ethnonyms found in the historical sources come from the Morotoco dialect (Sections 6 and 8).

77It is challenging to reconstruct the stages that led from the 18th-century Zamucoan dialects to present-day Ayoreo. Even though the plural -(o)de was very likely a Morotoco feature, it is possible that Morotoco was not the only dialect to have -(o)de ( The main source of information on the Zamucoan dialects are the word lists collected by d’Obigny in 1831 (Lussagnet 1961, 1962), but there are not enough data to ascertain whether the 19th-century Morotoco had the suffix -(o)de ( or not. As already noted by Kelm (1964), in d’Orbigny’s data, Morotoco is the Zamucoan dialect with the lowest percentage of lexicon similarity to Old Zamuco and Ayoreo. However, as pointed out by Combès (2009, p. 93-100), the 19th-century Zamucoan dialects may differ significantly from those of the 18th century since the life in the missions caused the merging of different Zamucoan populations (and not only Zamucoan). For this reason, one has to be very cautious in drawing conclusions about 18th-century Morotoco based on the 19th-century data. Similar to the mixing of different peoples in the missions, the present-day Ayoreo descend from the merging of those Zamucoan groups who refused to accept the new way of life imposed by the Jesuits, and little is known about their history until the Chaco War. Although many aspects of the history of Zamucoan populations will remain unknown, this study has presented new linguistic data that increase our general knowledge on ethnonymy in northern Chaco and some related historical issues.


Standard abbreviations: 1, 2, 3 = first, second, third person; af = argument form; exist = existential; f = feminine; if = indeterminate form; irr = irrealis; m = masculine; m/f = epicene; mod = modal; neg = negation; nm = non-masculine; pf = predicative form; pl = plural; prep = preposition; prosp = prospective; refl = reflexive; retr = retrospective; rls = realis; sg = singular.

Abbreviations used in Chomé’s dictionary: Fem. = feminine; N. = negation; pl. = plural; pos. = possessive.

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Ciucci Luca
2014  “Tracce di contatto tra la famiglia zamuco (ayoreo, chamacoco) e altre lingue del Chaco: prime prospezioni,” Quaderni del Laboratorio di Linguistica, 13, n.s.

Ciucci Luca
2016 [2013]  Inflectional morphology in the Zamucoan languages, CEADUC, Asunción.

Ciucci Luca
2018  “Lexicography in the eighteenth-century Gran Chaco: The Old Zamuco dictionary by Ignace Chomé,” in Jaka Čibej, Vojko Gorjanc, Iztok Kosem, and Simon Krek (eds.), Proceedings of the XVIII EURALEX International Congress. Lexicography in Global Contexts, Ljubljana University Press, Ljubljana, p. 439-451.

Ciucci Luca
2019  “A culture of secrecy: The hidden narratives of the Ayoreo,” International Journal of Language and Culture, special issue (“Creativity in language: Secret codes and special styles,” Anne Storch, Andrea Hollington, Nico Nassenstein, and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald [eds.]), p. 175-194.

Ciucci Luca
2020  “Matter borrowing, pattern borrowing and typological rarities in the Gran Chaco of South America,” Morphology, 30 (4 – special issue “Borrowing matter and pattern in morphology,” Francesco Gardani [ed.]), p. 283-310.

Ciucci Luca
2021  “How historical data complement fieldwork: New diachronic perspectives on Zamucoan verb inflection,” Studia Linguistica, 75 (2 – special issue “From fieldwork to reconstruction: Historical issues in hotspots of linguistic diversity,” Luca Ciucci [ed.]), p. 289-327.

Ciucci Luca (ed.)
Forthcoming  Ignace Chomé. Vocabulario de la lengua zamuca – Edición crítica y comentario lingüístico, Iberoamericana Vervuert Verlag, Madrid/Frankfurt.

Ciucci Luca and Pier Marco Bertinetto
2015  “A diachronic view of the Zamucoan verb inflection,” Folia Linguistica Historica, 36 (1), p. 19-87.

Ciucci Luca and Pier Marco Bertinetto
2017  “Possessive inflection in Proto-Zamucoan: A reconstruction,” Diachronica, 34 (3), p. 283-330.

Ciucci Luca and Pier Marco Bertinetto
2019  “Possessive classifiers in Zamucoan,” in Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and Elena Mihas (eds.), Genders and classifiers. A cross-linguistic typology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 144-175.

Ciucci Luca and Pier Marco Bertinetto
Forthcoming  “Towards the reconstruction of Zamucoan nominal suffixation.”

Ciucci Luca and Gabriella Erica Pia
2019  “Linguistic taboos in Ayoreo,” The Mouth, 4, p. 31-54.

Combès Isabelle
2009  Zamucos, Instituto de Misionología, Cochabamba.

Combès Isabelle
2010a  Diccionario étnico. Santa Cruz la Vieja y su entorno en el siglo xvi, Instituto de Misionología, Cochabamba.

Combès Isabelle
2010b  “El coronel Ayoroa y los indios del lugar,” in Luc Capdevilla, Isabelle Combès, Nicolás Richard, and Pablo Barbosa (eds.), Los hombres transparentes. Indígenas y militares en la guerra del Chaco (1932-1935), Instituto de Misionología/Itinerarios/CERHIO, Cochabamba, p. 33-82.

Combès Isabelle
2018  “Chaco adentro: las expediciones de Ángel Ayoroa, 1927-1932,” Anuario de Estudios Bolivianos Archivísticos y Bibliográficos, 25, p. 97-140.

Combès Isabelle and Vincent Hirtzel
2007  “Apuntes sobre los tamacocis,” Anuario de Estudios Bolivianos Archivísticos y Bibliográficos, 13, p. 241-267.

Cordeu Edgardo J.
1989-1992  “Aishnuwéhrta. Las ideas de deidad en la religiosidad chamacoco,” Suplemento Antropológico, 24 (1)-27 (2).

Dye Johnson Jean
2014 [1966]  God planted five seeds, Ethnos360, Sanford (FL).

Fischermann Bernd
1988  Zur Weltsicht der Ayoréode Ostboliviens, Ph.D. thesis, Anthropology, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität, Bonn; Spanish translation: La cosmovisión de los ayoréode del Chaco Boreal, manuscript, La Paz (Bolivia), 2005.

Fischermann Bernd
1993  “Viviendo con los Pai. Las experiencias ayoreode con los jesuitas,” in Juan Carlos Ruiz (ed.), Las misiones del ayer para los días de mañana, El País, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, p. 127-139.

Gijn Rik van
2006  A grammar of Yurakaré, Ph.D. thesis, Linguistics, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen.

González Hebe Alicia
2005  A grammar of Tapiete (Tupi-Guarani), Ph.D. thesis, Linguistics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

Haekel Joseph
1955  “Berichte: Studienreise eines jungen Österreichers in Ostbolivien,” Wiener Völkerkundliche Mitteilungen, 3 (1), p. 100-103.

Hervás y Panduro Lorenzo
1784  Catalogo delle lingue conosciute e notizia della loro affinità, e diversità, Gregorio Biasini, Cesena.

Hervás y Panduro Lorenzo
1786  Aritmetica delle nazioni e divisione del tempo fra l’Orientali, Gregorio Biasini, Cesena.

Hervás y Panduro Lorenzo
1787a  Vocabolario poliglotto con prolegomeni sopra più di CL lingue, Gregorio Biasini, Cesena.

Hervás y Panduro Lorenzo
1787b  Saggio pratico delle lingue, Gregorio Biasini, Cesena.

Higham Alice, Maxine E. Morarie, and Greta Paul
2000  Ayoré-English dictionary, New Tribes Mission, Sanford (FL), 3 vols.

Jolís José
1789  Saggio sulla storia naturale della provincia del Gran Chaco, Lodovico Genestri, Faenza.

Kelm Heinz
1964  “Das Zamuco: eine lebende Sprache,” Anthropos, 59, p. 457-516, 770-842.

Lussagnet Suzanne
1961  “Vocabulaires Samuku, Morotoko, Poturero et Guarañoka précédés d’une étude historique et géographique sur les anciens Samuku du Chaco bolivien et leur voisins,” Journal de la Société des américanistes, 50, p. 185-243.

Lussagnet Suzanne
1962  “Vocabulaires Samuku, Morotoko, Poturero et Guarañoka (suite et fin),” Journal de la Société des américanistes, 51, p. 35-64.

Martínez Cecilia
2015  “Tapuy miri, chiquitos, chiquitanos. Historia de un nombre en perspectiva interétnica,” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’études andines, 44 (2), p. 237-258.

Montaño Aragón Mario
1987  “La obra del Padre Ignacio Chomé S. J.,” Reunión Anual de Etnología 1987, MUSEF, La Paz, vol. 1, p. 211-217.

Montoya Antonio Ruiz de
1639  Tesoro de la lengua guaraní, Iuan Sanchez, Madrid.

Morarie Maxine E.
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2011  “La querelle des noms. Chaîne et strates ethnonymiques dans le Chaco boréal,” Journal de la Société des américanistes, 97 (2), p. 201-229.

Souza Ilda de
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1 The double consonants in Old Zamuco orthography possibly indicated consonantal lengthening in the onset of the stressed syllable; it was most likely the stress and not consonant gemination that was contrastive.

2 See the abbreviation section for the grammatical category labels used here and in the following examples.

4 In the literature, the form Ayoreode is sometimes preferred to Ayoreo because it is considered the plural of the latter. Such a reasoning ignores Ayoreo morphology because Ayoreo ( is also a plural form, like Ayoreode (, Ayorerigo (, and the feminine plural forms in Table 2.

5 According to Pia (2018, p. 10-11), a secondary nuance of ayoré (m/ is “person who is able to be harmful, to fight against the enemy.”

6 This word reminds us of the Chamacoco verb -ohɨr/-orha “to steal,” corresponding to Old Zamuco -oriâ and Ayoreo -ori/-oria “to steal.” In Ayoreo, “thieves” is orieo (, while in present-day Chamacoco the term normally used for “thieves” is echɨko (

7 In 2016, the collaboration of the UMSA Central Library with the two universities involved in the project led to the inclusion of this collection in the register of the Unesco Memory of the World program by the Unesco Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean.

8 Vargas Ugarte (1931) mentioned the entry following toriga, torona “to have a dirty mouth,” which he mistranscribed as sorona.

9 The transcription follows the upcoming critical edition of the manuscript (Ciucci [ed.] forthcoming). Since capitalization is idiosyncratic in the dictionary, the present-day Spanish capitalization rules are followed so that ethnonyms are not capitalized in the examples reported here. By contrast, I have capitalized Old Zamuco ethnonyms when they are discussed in the text.

10 In (7), one might interpret the compound as “surly person,” with ayihoré “person/human” as the head. If this were the case, there would be no need for ayihoré, since tuñauc can be used alone and already refers to a human. By contrast, the translation of the compound (“who abhors humankind, misanthrope”; original Spanish version: “aborrecedor del genero humano, misantropos [sic]”) indicates that ayihoré “person/human” is the modifier.

11 Ritual cannibalism in the Chaco was attributed to the Chiriguano (Combès 2009, p. 102; Fischermann 1988). According to the Morotoco, the Carerá, another Zamucoan group, practiced ritual anthropophagy (Combès 2009, p. 50); on alleged ritual anthropophagy among Zamucoan peoples, see Cordeu (1989-1992); Bertinetto, Ciucci, and Pia (2010); Ciucci and Pia (2019).

12 In (8), Old Zamuco izeque is an adversative conjunction, but is rendered with “and” (Spanish y) by Chomé. On capitalization in the dictionary, see footnote 8.

13 A possible cognate of Old Zamuco nani and Ayoreo jnani is Chamacoco ešnāniyo /eɕnaːnijo/ (Sušnik 1970, p. 174), which refers to the Chamacoco who lived in a mythical time.

14 Yurakaré, an isolate, has chajmu “dog” (Gijn 2006), which is a look-alike of these terms.

15 The order of the dialects was changed with respect to Hervás y Panduro’s text.

16 These data were analyzed by Kelm (1964), who noted that 19th-century Morotoco showed considerable lexical differences from both Old Zamuco and Ayoreo. At the same time, my analysis indicates that it is lexically closer to Old Zamuco and Ayoreo than to Chamacoco. The comparison of d’Orbigny’s data with those from the Old Zamuco dictionary and Chamacoco will be the subject of another work.

17 Also the variant Ugarono is attested in historical documents: this is either a misspelling of Ugaroño or a form from another Zamucoan dialect.

18 The term utet “lizard” was also documented by d’Orbigny in 1831 for two Zamucoan dialects, Poturero and Samucu (Lussagnet 1961, p. 242); the latter is a possible continuation of Old Zamuco. Old Zamuco utet corresponds to Ayoreo utet (, utedi ( “green lizard” (Fischermann 1988; Barrios, Bulfe, and Zanardini 1995).

19 Other variants found in the historical sources are less correct: caitoporade, caipotade, capipotorade, carpotoradeses (Combès 2009, p. 288).

20 In Quiripecode, the suffix might be -ode, if the root is Quiripec-, but this is uncertain; if the root is Quiripeco-, deletion of the initial prefix vowel /o/ occurs so that the segmentation is Quiripeco-de.

21 Geminated consonants were possibly not distinctive in Old Zamuco (see footnote 1).

22 This is shown by Lussagnet’s (1961, 1962) comparison of the Samucu dialect with 18th-century Old Zamuco.

23 The term is also spelled as cucarãt in Ayoreo.

24 Chamacoco Maro ( has the masculine singular predicative form Mariyak. The latter can be compared with Old Zamuco mârac ( “mute,” found in Chomé’s dictionary. This suggests the hypothesis that the Chamacoco used Mariyak ( for “Paraguayan,” since the Westerners spoke an unintelligible language. Similarly, “mute” is the etymological meaning of the term for the Germans in Slavic languages.

25 Tsaúka is the plural of the female speech, corresponding to Mayutsaúka in the male speech (data from the Ignaciano variety of Chiquitano, author’s fieldwork).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – The languages of the South American Chaco (Ciucci 2020)
Fichier image/jpeg, 434k
Titre Fig. 2 – Internal classification of Zamucoan (Ciucci 2021)
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Titre Fig. 3 – Detail from the manuscript of the Old Zamuco dictionary with the form dayihoreoddoe (photo: UMSA)
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Titre Fig. 4 – The Zamucoan groups in the 18th century (map Ciucci, 2021)
Fichier image/jpeg, 533k
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Luca Ciucci, « Zamucoan ethnonymy in the 18th century and the etymology of Ayoreo », Journal de la Société des américanistes, 107-2 | 2021, 77-114.

Référence électronique

Luca Ciucci, « Zamucoan ethnonymy in the 18th century and the etymology of Ayoreo », Journal de la Société des américanistes [En ligne], 107-2 | 2021, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2021, consulté le 29 mai 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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Luca Ciucci

Language and Culture Research Centre, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

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© Société des Américanistes

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