Chibchan languages

Last updated
Chibchan
Geographic
distribution
Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia
Linguistic classification Macro-Chibchan ?
  • Chibchan
ISO 639-5 cba
Glottolog chib1249 [1]
Chibcha lang.png

The Chibchan languages (also Chibchan, Chibchano) make up a language family indigenous to the Isthmo-Colombian Area, which extends from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia and includes populations of these countries as well as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The name is derived from the name of an extinct language called Chibcha or Muysccubun, once spoken by the people who lived on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense of which the city of Bogotá was the southern capital at the time of the Spanish Conquista. However, genetic and linguistic data now indicate that the original heart of Chibchan languages and Chibchan-speaking peoples may not have been in Colombia at all, but in the area of the Costa Rica-Panama border, where one finds the greatest variety of Chibchan languages.

Language family group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor

A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family. The term "family" reflects the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a biological family tree, or in a subsequent modification, to species in a phylogenetic tree of evolutionary taxonomy. Linguists therefore describe the daughter languages within a language family as being genetically related.

Isthmo-Colombian Area

The Isthmo-Colombian Area is defined as a cultural area encompassing those territories occupied predominantly by speakers of the Chibchan languages at the time of European contact. It includes portions of the Central American isthmus like eastern El Salvador, eastern Honduras, Caribbean Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and northern Colombia.

Honduras republic in Central America

Honduras, officially the Republic of Honduras, is a country in Central America. In the past, it was sometimes referred to as "Spanish Honduras" to differentiate it from British Honduras, which later became modern-day Belize. The republic of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.

Contents

Classification

Guaymí, or Ngäbere, also known as Movere, Chiriquí, and Valiente, is spoken by the indigenous Ngäbe people in Panama and Costa Rica. The people refer to themselves as Ngäbe and to their language as Ngäbere. The Ngäbes are the most populous of Panama’s several indigenous peoples. The language is centered in Panama within the semi-autonomous indigenous reservation known as the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé. Beginning in the 1950s, Costa Rica began to receive Ngäbe immigrants, where they are found in several indigenous reservations: Abrojos Montezuma, Conteburica, Coto Brus, Guaymí de Alto Laguna de Osa, and Altos de San Antonio.

Panama Republic in Central America

Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.

Costa Rica country in Central America

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers. An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.

The extinct languages of Antioquia, Old Catío and Nutabe have been shown to be Chibchan (Adelaar & Muysken, 2004:49). The language of the Tairona is unattested, apart from a single word, but may well be one of the Arwako languages still spoken in the Santa Marta range. The Zenú AKA Sinú language of northern Colombia is also sometimes included, as are the Malibu languages, though without any factual basis.

Constenla argues that Cueva, the extinct dominant language of Pre-Columbian Panama long assumed to be Chibchan based on a misinterpreted Kuna vocabulary, was actually Chocoan, but there is little evidence.

The Cofán language (Kofán, Kofane, A'i) of Ecuador and Colombia has been erroneously included in Chibchan due to borrowed vocabulary.

External relations

The most significant neighboring linguistic groups, with which there are important relationships, are the Misumalpan languages (to the north) and the Choco languages (to the south). A larger family called Macro-Chibchan , which would contain the Misumalpan languages, Xinca, and Lenca, was found convincing by Kaufman (1990). Dennis Holt (1986) claimed evidence for possible distant relationships with the Uto-Aztecan and Pano–Takanan language-families.

Related Research Articles

Misumalpan languages language family

The Misumalpan languages are a small family of languages spoken by indigenous peoples on the east coast of Nicaragua and nearby areas. The name "Misumalpan" was devised by John Alden Mason and is composed of syllables from the names of the family's three members Miskito, Sumo languages and Matagalpan. It was first recognized by Walter Lehmann in 1920. While all the languages of the Matagalpan branch are now extinct, the Miskito and Sumu languages are alive and well: Miskito has almost 200,000 speakers and serves as a second language for speakers of other Indian languages on the Mosquito Coast. According to Hale, most speakers of Sumu also speak Miskito.

Choco languages language family

The Choco languages are a small family of Native American languages spread across Colombia and Panama.

Barbacoan languages language family poken in Colombia and Ecuador

Barbacoan is a language family spoken in Colombia and Ecuador.

Paezan may be any of several hypothetical or obsolete language-family proposals of Colombia and Ecuador named after the Paez language.

Cueva is a poorly attested and often misclassified extinct indigenous language of Panama. The Cueva people were exterminated between 1510 and 1535 during Spanish colonization. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Kuna repopulated the Cueva area.

Lencan is a small family of nearly extinct indigenous Mesoamerican languages.

Dennis Holt American writer and linguist

Dennis Graham Holt (born October 6, 1942) is an American poet, linguist and translator.

The Uwa language, Uw Cuwa, commonly known as Tunebo, is a Chibchan language spoken by between 1,800 and 3,600 of the Uwa people of Colombia, out of a total population of about 7,000.

The Maléku Jaíka language, also called Guatuso, Watuso-Wétar, and Guetar, is an indigenous language of north central Costa Rica. It is a Chibchan language and Votic language spoken by around 300 to 750 indigenous Maléku people. This language is considered to be endangered according to The Endangered Languages Project. Corobicí is possibly a dialect.

Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations Part of the Spanish conquest of Columbia

Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations refers to the conquest by the Spanish monarchy of the Chibcha language-speaking nations, mainly the Muisca and Tairona that inhabited present-day Colombia, beginning the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Costa Rica's official and predominant language is Spanish. The variety spoken there, Costa Rican Spanish, is a form of Central American Spanish.

Macro-Chibchan languages

Macro-Chibchan is a proposed grouping of the languages of the Lencan, Misumalpan, & Chibchan families into a single large phylum (macrofamily). The Lencan & Misumalpan languages were once included in the Chibchan family proper, but were excluded pending further evidence as that family became well established. Kaufman (1990) finds the Chibchan–Misumalpan connection convincing, if as yet unsubstantiated, though Campbell (1997) finds it doubtful. The Xincan family was once included in Macro-Chibchan, but this is now doubtful.

Cabécar people

The Cabécar are an indigenous group of the remote Talamanca region of eastern Costa Rica. They speak Cabécar, a language belonging to the Chibchan language family of the Isthmo-Colombian Area of lower Central America and northwestern Colombia. According to census data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Costa Rica, the Cabécar are the largest indigenous group in Costa Rica with a population of nearly 17,000.

References

  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chibchan". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Bibliography