Republic of Venezuela, República de Venezuela. 22,213,000 (1995). 145,230 American Indians (Mosonyi 1987). Literacy rate 88% (1991 WA). Arabic 110,000, Chinese 400,000, Inga 4,000. Information mainly from M. Durbin 1973, Gaceta Indigenista 1975, Migliazza 1977, M. Seely 1980. Christian, secular. Deaf institutions: 3. Data accuracy estimate: B. The number of languages listed for Venezuela is 42. Of those, 40 are living languages and 2 are extinct.
AKAWAIO (ACEWAIO, AKAWAI, ACAWAYO, ACAHUAYO, WAICÁ) [ARB] A few in Venezuela; 4,300 in Guyana (1990 J. Forte); 500 in Brazil; 4,300 or more in all countries. Bolivar State. Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Kapon. Close to Macushi but not inherently intelligible. Marginally intelligible with Arecuna. The Akawaio and Patamona call themselves 'Kapon'. Limited bilingualism. Ethnic pride. Bible portions 1873. Work in progress.
ARAWAK (LOKONO, AROWAK) [ARW] A few in Venezuela; 1,500 speakers out of 5,000 in the ethnic group in Guyana; 700 in Surinam; 150 to 200 in French Guiana (1977 SIL); 2,400 in all countries. Coastal area near Guyana, Delta Amacuro. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Caribbean. Reported to be used only by the elderly in Surinam and Guyana. Bible portions 1850-1978. Survey needed.
ARUTANI (AUAQUÉ, AUAKE, AWAKÉ, URUAK, URUTANI, AOAQUI, OEWAKU) [ATX] 5 speakers out of a population of up to 30 in Venezuela (1977 Migliazza); 17 in Brazil (1986 SIL); 22 total. Below the Sape of the Karum River area, Bolivar State, headwaters of the Paraqua and Uraricáa rivers. Arutani-Sape. The remaining speakers are bilingual in Ninam. Most are intermarried with the Ninam, some with the Pemon (Arecuna), a few with the Sape, and they do not speak Arutani fluently. Nearly extinct.
BANIVA (AVANI, AYANE, ABANE) [BVV] Colombian border area. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. Dialects: BANIVA, QUIRRUBA. Distinct from Baniwa in Rio Negro region. Extinct.
BANIWA (BANIUA DO IÇANA, MANIBA, BANIVA, BANIBA) [BAI] 407 in Venezuela (1975 Gaceta Indigenista); 5,460 in Brazil (1983 SIL). Amazonas, between the Curipaco and the Guarequena, along the Colombian border. Also in Colombia. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. Related to Carutana and Curripaco. NT 1965-1985. Bible portions 1959.
BARÉ (BARAWANA, BARAUNA, BARAUANA, IHINI, ARIHINI, MALDAVACA, CUNIPUSANA, YAVITA, MITUA) [BAE] A few elderly speakers in Venezuela, perhaps 238 in the ethnic group (1975 Gaceta Indigenista); extinct in Brazil, 225 in the ethnic group. Colombian border in extreme southwest, Amazonas, along the upper Rio Negro from Brazil-Venezuela border to the Casiquiare Canal, Maroa. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. People are bilingual in Spanish. The name 'Baré' is also used as a cover term for separate languages: Baré, Mandahuaca, Guarekena, Baniwa, Piapoko. Nearly extinct.
CUIBA (CUIVA) [CUI] 650 in Venezuela (1995 SIL); 2,000 in Colombia (1979 SIL); 2,650 total. Apure Division. Arawakan, Guahiban. Dialects: CHIRICOA, AMARUWA (AMORUA), MASIGUARE, SIRIPU, YARAHUURAXI-CAPANAPARA, MELLA, PTAMO, SICUANE (SICUARI). Semi-nomadic bands. Nearly all are monolingual. 1% literate. Hunter-gatherers. NT 1988. Bible portions 1974-1993.
CURRIPACO (CURIPACO, KURIPAKO, KURRIPAKO) [KPC] 210 in Venezuela (1970 census); 2,000 to 2,500 in Colombia; 810 in Brazil (1995 AMTB); 3,000 to 3,500 in all countries. Amazonas. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. An alternate name may be 'Yaverete-Tapuya'. NT 1959. Bible portions 1948.
GERMAN, COLONIA TOVAR (ALEMÁN COLONEIRO) [GCT] Indo-European, Germanic, West, Continental, High. Speakers are bilingual in Spanish. Developed from the Allemannisch (Oberdeutsch) of 1843 under the influence of many other dialects of south Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Not intelligible with Standard German. There is a newspaper in Spanish and Alemán Coloneiro. Survey needed.
GUAHIBO (GUAJIBO, WAHIBO) [GUH] 5,000 in Venezuela; 15,000 in Colombia (1982 SIL); 20,000 total. Orinoco River from Caicaro de Orinoco on the upper Orinoco, Amazonas and Apure State. Arawakan, Guahiban. The Guahiban languages may not be within Arawakan. Plains. NT 1982. Bible portions 1960-1968.
GUAREQUENA (GUAREKENA, AREQUENA, UREQUEMA, UEREQUEMA, WAREKENA) [GAE] 367 in Venezuela; 338 in Brazil (1983 NTM); 705 total. Village of Guzmán Blanco, half an hour below Maroa. San Miguel River, Amazonas. Also possibly in Colombia. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. All are bilingual in Spanish in Venezuela. Only older people speak the language. Some in Brazil speak Nhengatu, but most use Guarequena by preference. Survey needed.
JAPRERÍA (YAPRERÍA) [JRU] 80 (1975 Gaceta Indigenista). Northern region of Sierra de Perija, Zulia State. Carib, Northern, Coastal. Not inherently intelligible with other Carib languages of the area (M. Durbin). Survey needed.
KALIHNA (CARIB, CARIBE, CARIÑA, KALINYA, GALIBI) [CRB] 4,000 to 5,000 in Venezuela (1978 J.C. Mosonyi); 2,500 in Surinam (1989 SIL); 475 or more in Guyana; 1,200 in French Guiana; 100 or fewer in Brazil (1991 SIL); 10,000 in all countries (1991). Monagas, and Anzoategui states, northeast near Orinoco River mouth, plus a few communities in Bolivar State, just south of Orinoco. Carib, Northern, Galibi. Dialects: TABAJARI, CHAYMA (CHAIMA, SAYMA, WARAPICHE, GUAGA-TAGARE). Quite well integrated into Venezuelan culture, though they do speak their own language among themselves. None are monolingual except the very old and the very young. The Chayma people are probably bilingual or monolingual in Spanish. Work in progress.
MACUSHI (MAKUXI, MAKUSHI, TEWEYA) [MBC] 600 in Venezuela; 3,800 in Brazil; 7,000 in Guyana (1990 J. Forte); 11,400 to 13,000 in all countries. Eastern border area. Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Macushi. Close to, but not intelligible with Patamona (Ingariko). Some from Guyana in Bolivar State speak English as second language. NT 1981. Bible portions 1923-1975. Work in progress.
MANDAHUACA (MANDAUACA, MANDAWAKA, IHINI, ARIHINI, MALDAVACA, CUNIPUSANA, YAVITA, MITUA) [MHT] 3,000 in Venezuela (1975 Gaceta Indigenista); 3 in Brazil (1993 ALEM); 3,000 in all countries. Colombian border in extreme southwest, Amazonas, east of the Baré on the Baria River and Casiquiare Canal. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. The name 'Baré' is also used as a cover term for separate languages: Baré, Mandahuaca, Guarekena, Baniwa, Piapoko. Related to Adzaneni, Yabaana, Masaca. Survey needed.
MAPOYO (MAPAYO, MAPOYE, MOPOI, NEPOYE, WANAI) [MCG] 2 speakers out of 120 population (1977 Migliazza); 200 (1975 Gaceta Indigenista). Suapure River, 100 kilometers north of La Urbana, Amazonas. Carib, Northern, Western Guiana. Nearly extinct.
MAQUIRITARI (MAIONGONG, MAQUIRITARE, YEKUANA, DE'CUANA, YE'CUANA, MAQUIRITAI, SOTO, CUNUANA, PAWANA) [MCH] 4,970 in Venezuela (1975 Gaceta Indigenista); 270 in Brazil (1986 SIL); 5,240 total. Bolivar State and Amazonas, near the Brazilian border on the mid Paragua, Caura, Erebato, upper Ventuari, upper Auaris, Matacuni, Cuntinano, Padamo, and Cunucunuma rivers. Carib, Southern, Southern Guiana. Isolated location. People are about 15% literate. NT 1970. Bible portions 1957-1968.
MOTILÓN (BARÍ, MOTILONE) [MOT] 850 in Venezuela (1980 Seely); 1,500 to 2,000 total (1973 SIL). Venezuelan and Colombian border, Zulia State. Also in Colombia. Chibchan, Motilon. Unrelated to Carib Motilón (Yukpa). M. Durbin questions its classification as Chibchan; Voegelin and Voegelin classify it as Arawakan. Tropical forest. Bible portions. Work in progress.
MUTÚS (LOCO, MUTÚ) [MUF] 200 or more (1977 Merrill Seely). Town of Mutús, a little above Pueblo Llano, Barinas State. Unclassified. Civilized, prosperous farmers. All speak their language and Spanish, but comprehension of abstract concepts through Spanish is inadequate. Synchretistic religion. Possibly a remnant of Timote or Cuica (a dialect of Timote was Mukutu).
NHENGATU (YERAL, GERAL, WAENGATU, MODERN TUPÍ) [YRL] 2,000 in Venezuela (1987 Mosonyi); 3,000 in Brazil and Colombia; 5,000 in all countries. Amazonas, border with Brazil, Amazon and Rio Negro area. Tupi, Tupi-Guarani, Tupi (III). Trade language. NT 1973. Bible portions 1960-1967.
NINAM (YANAM, XIRIANA) [SHB] 100 in Venezuela; 466 in Brazil; 566 total. Karun and Paragua Rivers, Bolivar State. Yanomam. Dialects: NORTHERN NINAM, SOUTHERN NINAM. In Venezuela all speakers are bilingual in Spanish or Arecuna or both. Bible portions 1970. Work in progress.
PANARE (PANARI, ABIRA, EYE) [PBH] 1,200 in 20 or more villages. 150 mile perimeter south of Caicaro de Orinoco basin of the Cuchivero River; Bolivar State. Two groups: jungle and highland. Carib, Northern, Western Guiana. Communal life. Nearly all are monolingual. Grammar in preparation. Typology: SVO, OVS. Tropical forest, mountain slope. Bible portions 1984. Work in progress.
PARAUJANO (PARAHUJANO) [PBG] 20 or fewer speakers out of 4,306 population (1975 Gaceta Indigenista). Lake Maracaibo, near Guajiro, Zulia State. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Caribbean. Dialects: ALILE, TOA. Most speakers are women. All are bilingual. Nearly extinct.
PEMON (PEMONG) [AOC] 4,850 Pemon in Venezuela; 400 to 500 Arecuna in Guyana; 220 Taulipang in Brazil; 459 Ingarikó in Brazil; 5,930 in all countries. Bolivar State, Gran Sabana and adjacent areas. Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Kapon. Dialects: CAMARACOTA, TAUREPAN (TAULIPANG), ARECUNA (ARICUNA, AREKUNA, JARICUNA, PEMON, DAIGOK, POTSAWUGOK, PISHAUCO, PURUCOTO, KAMARAGAKOK). Marginally intelligible with Akawaio and Patamona. Camaracoto may be distinct. The large majority are monolingual. Typology: OVS. Work in progress.
PIAPOCO (DZAZE) [PIO] 99 in Venezuela (1975 Gaceta Indigenista); 3,000 in Colombia; 3,100 total. Area of San Fernando de Atapapo, Amazonas along the Orinoco. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. NT 1966-1987. Bible portions 1960-1986.
PIAROA (KUAKUA, GUAGUA, QUAQUA) [PID] 12,000 including 130 Maco (1987 UBS); 80 in Colombia (1991 Adelaar). South bank of the Orinoco River, inland from the Paguasa River to Manipiari, Amazonas. Salivan. Dialects: MACO (MAKO, ITOTO), PIAROA. Large but inaccessible area. 'Ature' (Adole) may be an alternate name. Possibly 50% of the men are bilingual in Maquiritare, Yabarana, or Spanish. NT 1986. Bible portions 1961-1964.
PUINAVE (PUINABE) [PUI] 240 in Venezuela (1975 Gaceta Indigenista); 2,000 in Colombia; 2,240 total. Amazonas. Language Isolate. Ruhlen and others classify it as related to Macú. NT 1964. Bible portions 1955. Work in progress.
SÁLIBA (SÁLIVA) [SLC] 250 in Venezuela (1991 Adelaar); 2,000 in Colombia (1982 SIL); 2,250 total. Cedoño Department. Salivan. Very acculturated in Venezuela. Work in progress.
SANUMÁ (TSANUMA, SANEMA, GUAIKA, SAMATARI, SAMATALI, XAMATARI, CHIRICHANO) [SAM] 1,000 to 4,000 in Venezuela (1976 UFM); 462 in Brazil; 1,500 to 4,500 total. Caura and Ervato-Ventuari Rivers. Yanomam. Three dialects. Nearly all are monolingual. Work in progress.
SAPÉ (KARIANA, KALIÁNA, CALIANA, CHIRICHANO) [SPC] 5 speakers out of a population of fewer than 25 (1977 Migliazza). 3 small settlements on Paragua and Karuna rivers. Arutani-Sape. Some lexical correspondences with Guinau (Arawak) and Warao (Chibchan); Greenberg classified it provisionally as Macro-Tucanoan. Most have intermarried with Arecuna (Pemon) and a few with Arutani and Ninam. There are conflicting reports on the number of speakers and degree of bilingualism. Bible portions. Nearly extinct.
SIKIANA (SIKIÂNA, SHIKIANA, CHIQUIANA, CHIKENA, CHIQUENA) [SIK] (33 in Brazil; 1986 SIL). Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Waiwai, Sikiana. Possibly extinct in Venezuela. Survey needed.
SPANISH [SPN] 21,480,000 in Venezuela (1995 estimate); 266,000,000 in all countries (1987 Time). Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Ibero-Romance, North, Central. National language. Bible 1553-1979. NT 1543-1986. Bible portions 1514-1985.
TUNEBO, CENTRAL [TUF] A few speakers in Venezuela discovered by Roberto Lizarralde a few years ago; 1,500 in Colombia (1982 SIL). Apure State. Chibchan, Chibchan Proper, Tunebo. NT 1987. Bible portions 1972-1982.
VENEZUELAN SIGN LANGUAGE [VSL] Deaf sign language. There is a national bilingual education program for Venezuelan Sign Language and Spanish. There have been schools for the deaf since 1937, and they use sign language. Deaf people can attend college with a sign language interpreter. The sign language used in the classroom is different from the one used by adults outside. There is a manual alphabet for spelling. Dictionary. Grammar.
WARAO (GUARAUNO, GUARAO, WARRAU) [WBA] 18,000 in Venezuela (1993 UBS). A few elderly speakers on both sides of the Guyana-Surinam border. On the delta of the Orinoco River, Delta Amacuro, Sucre, Monagas. Language Isolate. NT 1974. Bible portions 1960-1967.
WAYUU (GUAJIRO, GUAJIRA, GOAJIRO) [GUC] 170,000 in Venezuela (1995 SIL); 135,000 in Colombia (1995 SIL); 305,000 total. Zulia State, western, Guajira Peninsula. Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Caribbean. Bible portions 1944-1989. Work in progress.
YABARANA (YAUARANA) [YAR] 20 pure Yabarana and 34 mixed with Piaroa and Macu (1977 Migliazza). 64 (1975 Gaceta Indigenista). North central, Nueva Esparta, area of the Manapiare River basin above the village of San Juan de Manapiare. Amazonas. Carib, Northern, Western Guiana. Dialects: CURASICANA, WOKIARE (UAIQUIARE, GUAYQUERI). Distinct from Yabaana of Brazil. Nearly extinct.
YANOMAMÖ (YANOMAME, YANOMAMI, GUAICA, GUAHARIBO, GUAJARIBO) [GUU] 12,000 to 14,000 in Venezuela (1991 AP); 1,500 to 2,000 in Brazil; 13,500 to 16,000 total. Orinoco-Mavaca area. The Eastern dialect is in the Parima Mountains, east of Batau River, Western dialect in Padamo River basin; Ocamo, Manaviche, and upper Orinoco rivers; and south of the Orinoco River up to headwaters of Marania and Cauaburi rivers, and a number of large villages in the Siapa River area in southern Venezuela. Yanomam. Dialects: EASTERN YANOMAMI (PARIMA), WESTERN YANOMAMI (PADAMO-ORINOCO), COBARI (KOBALI, COBARIWA). Different from, but related to Yanomami (Waika) of Brazil. The Cobari dialect is easily intelligible with the others. Tropical forest. Hunters, agriculturalists: bananas, tubers, tobacco. NT 1984. Bible portions 1961-1968.
YARURO (LLARURO, YARURU, PUMÉ, YUAPÍN) [YAE] 2,000 to 3,000. Orinoco, Sinaruco, Meta, and Apure Rivers, Amazonas and Apure State. Unclassified. Their name for themselves and the local name is 'Pumé'. Classified as Jivaroan and Macro-Chibchan. Plains. Work in progress.
YAVITERO (PARAENE) [YVT] Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Inland. The last known speaker died in 1984. Extinct.
YUKPA (YUKO, YUCPA, YUPA, NORTHERN MOTILÓN) [YUP] 3,000 in both countries; 2,500 in Colombia (1976 SIL). Sierra de Perijá, Cesar region, Zulia State. Carib, Northern, Coastal. Possible alternate name: 'Manso'. Work in progress.
YUWANA (YOANA, YUANA, WARUWARU, CHICANO, CHIKANO, JOTI, HOTI) [YAU] 300 (1970 census, Chicano); 300 to 500 (1974 Coppens). Central Venezuela. A northern group is in Bolivar Division on the Kaima River, a tributary of the Cuchivero River; an isolated southern group is in Amazonas on the Iguana, a tributary of the Asita River, and on the Parucito, a tributary of the Manapiare River. Unclassified. There are linguistic similarities to Yanomam and Piaroa (Salivan). The southern group is monolingual; the northern group is partially bilingual in Panare. Work in progress.
Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.
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