Paunaka is a critically endangered Southern Arawakan language, spoken in the eastern Bolivian region Chiquitanía (16°46’15” S, 61°27’15” W). Until recently Paunaka and its possibly close relative Paikoneka were classified extinct by linguists, however, approximately ten speakers and semi-speakers still live in the communities surrounding Concepción de Chiquitos and in the TCO Lomerío. All speakers are trilingual with Spanish and Bésɨro (or Chiquitano), which are the dominant languages of the region. No grammar of Paunaka has been published until now, and ethnographic data is scarce.


In this project we collect and transcribe roughly 50 hours of data, partly in Paunaka and partly in Spanish, which will be stored in the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR). The linguistic part of the project focuses on a description of the Paunaka language, as well as its relation to Paikoneka and other Arawakan languages. The ethnographic part seeks to clarify what factors constitute a Paunaka identity among the Chiquitano.