Cariban Languages

(redirected from Carib languages)
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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”).


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


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Carib languages, however, were used in Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, and Surinam.