Timote language

Last updated
Native to Venezuela
Native speakers
(perhaps 200 in the village of Mutús cited 1977)
  • Timote
  • Timote
  • Cuica
  • ?Mutú (Loco)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
qpj Timote-Cuica
  qdu Maguri
Glottolog timo1237   Timote-Cuica

Timote, also known as Cuica or Timote–Cuica, is the language of the Timote–Cuica state in the Venezuelan Andes, around the present city of Mérida and south of Lake Maracaibo.


The language is reported to have gone extinct in the early to mid 20th century. However, in 1977 it was reported that the indigenous village of Mutús, in the heart of the old Timote state, still spoke an indigenous language, which would presumably be Timote. The name is apparently Timote, as 'Timote' itself derives from ti-motɨ 'Mutú speakers', and mutú or mukú is a common toponym in the region. This lead had not been followed up as of Adelaar (2004).


The Timote and Cuica peoples apparently spoke dialects of a single language; some of the last reports of Cuica claim it was nothing other than Timote. Data is limited, but the connection is clear in the numerals:

2xem, xen
3šut, sut,
6kasum, kaksúm,

Consonant clusters, somewhat unusual for the area, are found, especially in Cuica: kču 'bird', stots 'blood', Timote klef 'rainy season', hutn 'dog'.

Mason (1950)

Mason (1950) provides a lengthy internal classification of Cuica and Timote: [1]

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  1. Mason, John Alden (1950). "The languages of South America". In Steward, Julian (ed.). Handbook of South American Indians. Vol. 6. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143. pp. 157–317.