Cariban Languages

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Cariban Languages

 

a family of languages that at the time of the European conquest was used in much of Guiana and part of present-day Venezuela and northern Brazil. Pockets of the Cariban languages are interspersed throughout western Colombia and the interior regions of Brazil. The so-called Island Carib in the Lesser Antilles (and now also in Central America) is a language of the Arawakan family with a Carib superstrate (that is, elements borrowed from the languages of newcomers). According to rough figures, Cariban languages are spoken by approximately 100, 000–150, 000 people. More than 100 Cariban languages are known, although their genetic classification remains to be worked out.

The Cariban languages are characterized by disyllabic and trisyllabic roots and by primarily open syllables. Verbs are inflected for subject and object, type (causative, passive, and so on), aspect, tense and mood. These grammatical meanings are expressed by prefixes and suffixes, which are primarily agglutinative. In the personal conjugation of the verb and in the personal possessive préfixai inflection of the noun five persons are distinguished: first person, second person, third person, third-person reflexive (“oneself), and the dual person (“I and thou”).

REFERENCE

Hoff, B. J. The Carib Language. The Hague, 1968.

A. B. DOLGOPOL’SKII

References in periodicals archive ?
This is probably in fact the case with Island Carib; the men's language probably originated as an Arawak-based trade pidgin with heavy influence from mainland Carib languages before being adopted as a gender marker (Farr 1993).