Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD defence

A grammar of Ashéninka

  • T. Pedrós Caballero
Thursday 6 April 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. M.P.G.M. Mous


This thesis describes the Ashéninka language as it is spoken in the Gran Pajonal plateau and the upper Ucayali River in the Selva Central region of Peru, where the last Andean foothills give way to the Amazonian plain. The number of speakers is estimated at around 10,000. This language forms part of the so-called Ashé-Ashá dialect continuum, which is part of the group of Campan languages, a subgroup of the Arawak language family, the most widespread in South America. The Ashéninka people live in so-called comunidades nativas, indigenous settlements with official authorities that are legally recognised in Peru.
Although there are some descriptions of other Ashé-Ashá varieties, Ucayali-Pajonal Ashéninka has not been previously described. When I started my research, the Ministry of Education of Peru recognised only one language in the Ashé-Ashá dialect continuum. Thus, the Ministry of Education produced schoolbooks based on Asháninka, which is very different from Ucayali Pajonal Ashéninka. During my research, Ashéninka was recognised as a different language from Asháninka by the Ministry of Education and a standard orthography based on Ucayali-Pajonal Ashéninka was approved. The thesis includes a study of the complex dialectal situation of Ashé-Ashá, which supports this recent recognition. The recognition implies that schoolbooks have to be produced for the so-called Bilingual Intercultural Education, in which children are taught both in their indigenous language and in Spanish. I hope that this grammar will serve as a base for future Ashéninka schoolbooks, which may help to stop the ongoing process of language loss, present in practically all Amerindian languages.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press enquiries (journalists only)

+31 (0)71 527 1521
+31 (0) 6 2857 6982

General information

Beadle's Office
+31 71 527 7211

This website uses cookies.  More information.