Thiago Chacon

Thiago Chacon
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias
Résidents Programme FIAS

dates de séjour

01/09/2021 - 30/06/2022


Sciences du langage et linguistique

Fonction d’origine

Assistant Professor

Institution d’origine

University of Brasilia

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Modeling language descent and diffusion in Amazonia

This project addresses the inter-connected histories of Tukanoan and the Arawakan language families spoken in Amazonia. With an estimated shared history of about 3000 years, Tukanoan and Arawakan languages have been continuously influencing each other in a way that is possible to draw a stratigraphy of contact induced changes throughout different periods in history. As these languages share a deep history of contact, a central challenge is to identify and represent traits shared by descent or diffusion, and how to use these traits to infer past events of social and cultural histories. This project will explore how Historical Glottometry (HG) can be used as way to represent events of descent and diffusion within and across each family. This method is particularly suitable for representing language change events induced by diffusion or contact, as well as the identification of shared innovations between languages, in which sense it is primarily designed to study the internal structure of a language family. An innovative aspect of this project concerns using HG to identify the relative period, measure the degree and infer the social and cultural dynamics of how diffusion has taken place between Tukanoan and Arawakan languages, shading light on their complex and intense co-evolution of these two important language families from Amazonia.


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.