Short stay


Linguistics - Brasil

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Research topics



The central goal of this research is to create a framework for the comparative investigation of nominal classification in a typological and an evolutionary perspective, focusing on a set of 20 languages from Northwest Amazonia. Nominal classification can be defined as the linguistic means of expressions of how human categorize the world from a cultural and cognitive perspective. The properties of nominal classification systems in this part of the world and the linguistic ecology of Northwest Amazonia present crucial problems for our understanding of nominal classification systems more broadly as well as how language transmission and contact are responsible for the diachronic development of languages. More specifically, with this project I will address the following questions: how nominal classification systems emerge and along which pathways they evolve in the lexicon, grammar and semantics of languages? how universal and culturally specific trends shape the evolution of nominal classification? how the typological properties of nominal classification in Northwest Amazonia evolved diachronically?

Activities / Resume


Thiago Costa Chacon is an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Brasília. He has extensive experience of research among several native groups from South America, especially among the Tukanoan, Arawakan, Yanomami and Arutani speakers in Northern Amazonia. His research is based on an overarching approach to language description, linguistic theory and typology, as well as language and cultural conservation. After graduating from the University of Brasilia in 2007, he obtained his PhD at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 2012 with a dissertation on the Kubeo language. Before assuming his current position at the University of Brasilia in 2014, he was a post-doc scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, worked as an assistant professor at the Catholic University of Brasilia and acted as a consultant for the Brazilian Ministry of Culture for the creation of the main national policy for minority languages. Since 2018 he is also a research associate at the Max Planck Institute for the Sciences of Human History in Jena, Germany.



  • Chacon, T. C. 2012. The phonology and morphology of Kubeo: the documentation, theory and description of an Amazonian language. PhD dissertation. University of Hawaii at Manoa. (Available online here)
  • Chacon, T. C.; Seiffert, A. P.; Berto, F. F.; Pereira, G. R.; Silverstrin, M.; Garcia, M. V. C. 2014. Guia de Pesquisa e Documentação para o INDL [A Research and Documentation Guide for the National Survey of Linguistic Diveristy]. Volumes 1 and 2. Brasília: IPHAN/Ministry of Culture. (Available online: volume 1 and volume 2)
  • Chacon, T. C. The Reconstruction of Laryngealization in Proto-Tukanoan. In: The Phonetics and Phonology of Laryngeal Features in Native American Languages. 1 ed. Leiden: Brill, 2015, v.12, p. 1- 334.
  • Chacon, T. C. Kubeo: linguistic and cultural interactions in the Upper Rio Negro In: Upper Rio Negro: cultural and linguistic interaction in Northwestern Amazonia.1, 2013, p. 403-440.


  • Chacon, T. C., List, J. 2016. Improved computational models of sound change shed light on the history of the Tukanoan languages. Journal of Language Relationships. v.13, p.177 - 203.
  • Chacon, T. C. 2015. Finding the right place for languages in the community landscape: language conservation in interdisciplinary projects among the Kubeos in the Northwest Amazon. Internet. Barcelona:Càtedra UNESCO de Diversitat Lingüística i Cultural.
  • Chacon, T. C. 2014. A revised proposal of Proto-Tukanoan consonants and Tukanoan family classification. International Journal of American Linguistics. v.80, p.275 – 332.
  • Chacon, T. C. 2013. On Proto-Languages and Archaeological Cultures: pre-history and material culture in the Tukanoan Family. Revista Brasileira de Linguística Antropológica. , v.5, p.217 – 245.
  • Cayon, L. A.; Chacon, T. C. 2013. Conocimiento, historia y lugares sagrados. La formación del sistema regional del alto río Negro desde una visón interdisciplinar [Knowledge, history and sacred places. The formation of upper Rio Negro Regional system from an interdisciplinary perspective]. Anuário Antropológico. , v.39, p.201 – 233.
  • Chacon, T. C.; Shulist, Sarah; Genetti, C. 2013. Creating a Language Center in the Upper Rio Negro (Amazon): Considerations for Ongoing Collaborations In: Endangered Languages Beyond Boundaries: Community Connections, Collaborative Approaches and Cross-Disciplinary Research, 2013, Ottawa.
  • Chacon, T. C. 2010. Lexical and Viewpoint Aspect in Kubeo In: Conference on Indigenous Languages of Latin America-IV, 2010, Austin, Texas.