Journal of Universal Language
Sejong University Language Research Institue

The Kaingang-Austronesian Relationship Hypothesis: Evidence from Kinship Terminology

Vladimir Pericliev1,
1Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Corresponding Author : Vladimir Pericliev, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, bl. 8, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria. Phone: (++3592) 9792877; Email:

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Jun 29, 2011; Revised: Aug 31, 2011; Accepted: Sep 09, 2011

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


The Kaingang language family comprises two closely related languages, Xokleng and Kaingang, spoken in south-eastern Brazil, on the Atlantic, and the Austronesian family includes a large number of languages, covering a vast area in the Pacific. Our previous investigations reveal significant similarities between the Kaingang and Austronesian language families in both grammar and lexicon, suggesting the existence of phylogenetic affiliation between these language families. This unexpected hypothesis, having important implications for linguistics and other related disciplines, however, requires further severe tests for its corroboration. In this paper, I present an in-depth analysis of the parallels in the kinship terminologies of these two families. It is shown that Kaingang and Austronesian kin terms resemble substantially both in their forms and in their structural meanings (= kin term patterns) and this result provides strong support for the hypothesis. The occurrence of putative kin term cognates between Kaingang and Proto-Oceanic, such that do not have antecedents in the earlier Proto-Malayo- Polynesian or Proto-Austronesian stages of Austronesian, suggests an Oceanic origin of Kaingang.

Keywords: kaingang-austronesian relationship hypothesis; contacts between oceania and south america; language prehistory and classification; languages and migrations



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