Venezuela- Angel Falls

VENEZUELA: Angel Falls is the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. Did you know that “Paradise Falls” in the movie Up was based on the real life Angel Falls? As the video below explains, the falls are known as Kerepakupai-Merú (or Parekupa Vena) amongst the Pemón-Carib people; the name means, “waterfall from the deepest place”. It would be amazing to visit, but its location is very remote and in the jungle, 600 kilometers (373 miles) away from civilization.

More specifically, the falls are located in Canaima National Park (Parque Nacional Canaima). This park is also famous because of its tepuis, which are sandstone plateaus in South America. In the Pemón language, tepui means, “house of the gods”. The literal translations below give you a glimpse into the language. As a linguist, I love this sort of thing!

Father Cesareo de Armellada was the author of the first dictionary of the Pemón language (published in 1943). At the time it was called Taurepan. Many words in this language show interesting patterns of formation.

For example, the word for “sugar-cane” is kaiwara-kún-imá , which means “pineapple with a very long leg.” The word for “pineapple” itself, kaiwara, means “a sweet with wrinkles.” The Pemon word for “dew” is chirké-yetakú, which means “star’s saliva.” Yetakú is “saliva” or, more precisely, “juice of the teeth.”

There is no word for “year” in the Pemon language. The day is divided into “dawning,” “morning,” “noontime,” “afternoon”.


In class, students made a model of Angel Falls in Venezuela, by collecting bark, small stones, and leaves outside, and adding water. (I had a sink in my room that year!) This mini project mostly came about because kindergarteners had learned that other classes were making Museum Exhibits, and they wanted to participate.

LINKS: Airpano, Angel Falls Coloring Page