Timotean languages

Last updated
Linguistic classification Timotean
Glottolog (not evaluated)
Timote-Cuica languages.png
Timote and Cuica toponyms

The Timotean languages were spoken in the Venezuelan Andes around what is now Mérida. It is assumed that they are extinct. However, Timote may survive in the so-far unattested Mutú (Loco) language, as this occupies a mountain village (Mutús) within the old Timote state. [1] [2]


Genetic relations

There is no apparent connection to the Chibchan, Arawakan, or Cariban families, apart from sporadic resemblances with Paez and some divergent Chibchan languages, so Timotean appears to be an independent family.

Jolkesky (2016) also notes that there are lexical similarities with the Jirajaran languages. [3]


There were two closely related languages, each a pair of dialects:

Traditionally, Mucuchí and Mirripú have been classified as dialects of Timote, with Cuica as a distinct language, but the data in Loukotka (1968) [4] indicates that Cuica is a dialect of Timote, and that Mucuchí–Mirripú are a separate language (Kaufman 2007; Campbell 1997, 2012).


Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for Timotean languages. [4]


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  1. Lyle Campbell, 2000. American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America.
  2. Willem Adelaar with Pieter Muysken, The Languages of the Andes, CUP, 2004:124–125
  3. Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas (Ph.D. dissertation) (2 ed.). Brasília: University of Brasília.
  4. 1 2 Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages . Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.