October 1, 2013
The codex Vocabulario enla Lengua Castellana, la del Inga y Xebera (British Library, shelf mark Ms. Add. 25,323), does not only contain a Spanish-Quechua-Xebero vocabulary, but also a rather elaborate description of certain Xebero sounds. Although the author of the manuscript is unknown, we may attribute it to the German-speaking Jesuit Samuel Fritz (1654-1726), who explored and lived in the Amazon between 1686 and 1723. Xebero is an indigenous North-Peruvian language and belongs to the Cahuapana language family, a small family consisting of two languages: Xebero and Chayahuita. Xebero is an agglutinative language and it has predominantly an SOV constituent (subject-object-verb) structure. In this paper we first analyze the sounds as described by the lexicographer in the manuscript and the graphemes used by him to symbolize them. On the basis of these data an overview of a tentative Xebero sound system is presented. Subsequently, we analyze the trilingual vocabulary in order to determine the roles played by the languages in the lexicon and to show the techniques used by the lexicographer in order to give an adequate translation of the different Spanish, Quechua and Xebero concepts.