Huaorani language

Huaorani / Waorani
Wao Terero
Native to Ecuador, Peru
Region Oriente or Ecuadorian Amazon
Ethnicity Huaorani people
Native speakers
1,700  (2004)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Ecuador: indigenous languages official in own territories
Language codes
ISO 639-3 auc
Glottolog waor1240[2]

The Huaorani (Waorani) language, commonly known as Sabela (also Wao, Huao, Auishiri, Aushiri, Ssabela ; autonym: Wao Terero; pejorative: Auka, Auca) is a language isolate spoken by the Huaorani people, an indigenous group living in the Amazon Rainforest between the Napo and Curaray Rivers. A small number of speakers with so-called uncontacted groups may live in Peru.


Huaorani distinguishes nasal vowels from oral ones. Syllable structure is (C)V, with frequent vowel clusters.
p t k
b d~ɾ ɟ~j ɡ
m n ɲ ŋ
Front Non-front
Plain Nasal Plain Nasal
Close i ĩ
Mid e ɵ~o~ɤ ɵ̃~õ~ɤ̃
Open æ æ̃ a ã


Huaorani has three dialects: Tiguacuna (Tiwakuna), Tuei (Tiwi Tuei, Tiwi), and Shiripuno.

Genetic relations

Sabela is not known to be related to any other language. However, it forms part of Terrence Kaufman's Yawan proposal.


  1. ^ Sabela at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Sabela". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

External links

  • Lengua Sabela
  • Huaorani - Spanish Dictionary
  • Waorani language dictionary online from IDS (select simple or advanced browsing)


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1987). Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language History in South America: What We Know and How to Know More. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian Linguistics: Studies in Lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The Native Languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the World's Languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.
  • Peeke, M. Catherine. (2003). A Bibliography of the Waorani of Ecuador. SIL International. Retrieved 2007 December 26 from
  • Pike, Evelyn G and Rachel Saint. 1988. Workpapers Concerning Waorani discourse features. Dallas, TX: SIL.
  • Rival, Laura. Trekking through History: The Huaorani of Amazonian Ecuador, Columbia University Press, 2002.

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