Cariban Languages

(redirected from Cariban language)

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.


References in periodicals archive ?
A typological grammar of Panare; a Cariban language of Venezuela.
The last forty years have seen a plethora of ethnographic, anthropological, and linguistic publications on various groups that belong to the Cariban language family, one of the largest language families in South America.
For this reason, we have chosen to concentrate on the exophoric contrastive use of demonstratives in two languages in detail: Tiriyo (a Cariban language spoken in northern Brazil) and Lavukaleve (a Papuan isolate of the Solomon Islands).
Archaeological and linguistic analysis suggests that Cariban languages may have spread both northwest and southeast from the Orinoco River delta in relatively late prehistory, perhaps from the thirteenth century AD (Muysken 2012).
Deliberate mistranslation of the word carib in Arawakan and Cariban languages into Caliban via the Spanish word Canibalis is cited as another instance of the failure as well as the violence of translation (41).