Book with Purubora language written on it

Rare language spotlight: Purubora

Here at The Language Shop we like to shine a light on some of the rarer languages spoken across the world, many of which have long and fascinating histories. This month we take a closer look at Purubora.

Fact file

Native to: Rondônia, Brazil

Number of native speakers: 1

Spoken by: The Purubora people

Learn some Purubora: There exists very little written in the language, except for lists of words. The official list contains only 49 words. Included are the numbers 1 to 3, which are: ‘múm, wewáb, bokód-wewáb’.

Interesting facts:

  • Until 2020, there were two native speakers left alive. However, sadly, one of the remaining two, Eliezer Purubora, died from Covid in late 2020. He was one of six Purubora who died from the virus.
  • Purubora translates as ‘people who transform into jaguars to heal’. They believe that when someone dies, they become a jaguar. When relatively tame jaguars visited the village, they would be welcomed as the new hosts of dead people’s spirits.
  • The Purubora had been considered extinct, following a practice of marrying off the women to colonisers who had arrived to work on rubber plantations. However, in 2001 there was an assembly, bringing together its remaining people to establish a claim to their original land. This claim is still ongoing today.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


Rare language spotlight: U’wa

Here at The Language Shop we like to shine a light on some of the rarer languages spoken across the world, many of which have long and fascinating histories. This month we take a closer look at U'wa.

Fact file

Native to: Northeastern Colombia and Venezuela

Number of native speakers: 2,000

Spoken by: The U’wa people

Learn some U’wa: The most common greeting is ‘eyariki?’, which translates literally to ‘are you there?’. Respond with ‘usatro’, which means ‘I’m here’.

Interesting facts:

  • The U’wa believe that the world was created by a god called Sira, who punishes any exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources. They believe that Sira will send natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, floods or darkness to punish humans who violate the planet.
  • The U’wa are known for their strength as a community and willingness to stand up for what they believe in. Despite being very insular, they are well known internationally for the stand they took in the 1990s against Occidental Petroleum, a US oil extraction company who wanted to mine their land. The U’wa mounted a campaign and threatened to commit mass suicide if Occidental succeeded. This drew international attention to the story and the U’wa won.
  • The U’wa are still engaged in legal battles to keep their ancestral lands free from exploitation by foreign and domestic companies. They have the additional problem of armed guerrilla groups who are active in Colombia, such as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), who blow up pipelines and poison wildlife.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.