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Languages of Guyana

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Co-operative Republic of Guyana. Formerly British Guiana. 705,803. 43,000 Amerindians (1990 Janette Forte). National or official language: English. Literacy rate: 91%. Also includes Portuguese, Saint Lucian Creole French (250), Urdu, Chinese (1,500). Information mainly from J. Forte 1990; SIL 1965–2003. Blind population: 1,300 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 44,199. Deaf institutions: 6. The number of languages listed for Guyana is 17. Of those, 16 are living languages and 1 is extinct.

Living languages

Akawaio

[ake] 4,500 in Guyana, (2002 SIL). Population total all countries: 5,000. West central, north of Patamona. Also spoken in Brazil, Venezuela. Alternate names: Acewaio, Akawai, Acahuayo, Kapon.  Dialects: Close to Macushi, marginally intelligible with Arecuna.  Classification: Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Kapon 
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Arawak

[arw] 1,500 in Guyana (2000 Forte). Ethnic population: 15,500 in Guyana. West coast and northeast along the Corantyne River. Alternate names: Arowak, Lokono.  Classification: Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Caribbean 
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Atorada

[aox] Few speakers in Guyana. Southwest Guyana, near the Wapishana. Also spoken in Brazil. Alternate names: Ator'ti, Dauri, Atorai.  Dialects: Lexical similarity 50% with Wapishana, 20% with Mapidian.  Classification: Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Wapishanan 
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Berbice Creole Dutch

[brc] 4 or 5 (1993 S. Kouwenberg). 15 with limited competence (1989 J. Holm). Berbice River area. Dialects: Speakers claim it is not inherently intelligible with Skepi or Rupununi. About 30% of the basic lexicon and most of the productive morphology is from Eastern Ijo in Nigeria; most of the rest of the lexicon is from Dutch, 10% loans from Arawak and Guyanese Creole English.  Classification: Creole, Dutch based  Nearly extinct.
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Carib

[car] 475 in Guyana (1991). Ethnic population: 3,000 in Guyana (2000 J. Forte). West coast and northwest. Alternate names: Caribe, CariƱa, Kalihna, Kalinya, Galibi.  Dialects: Murato (Myrato, Western Carib).  Classification: Carib, Northern, Galibi 
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English

[eng]   Dialects: Guyanese English.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English 
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Guyanese Creole English

[gyn] 650,000 in Guyana. Population includes 250,000 Blacks and 400,000 Hindustanis. Population total all countries: 700,000. Georgetown, coast, and Rupununi River area. There may be some in French Guiana. Also spoken in Suriname, USA. Alternate names: Creolese, Guyanese Creole.  Dialects: Afro-Guyanese Creole, Rupununi, Indo-Guyanese Creole. It may be intelligible with other English-based creoles of the Caribbean. Closest to creoles of Saint Vincent and Tobago. Rupununi may be a separate language. Speakers of Rupununi, Berbice Creole Dutch, and Skepi Creole Dutch claim they are not inherently intelligible with each other.  Classification: Creole, English based, Atlantic, Eastern, Southern 
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Hindustani, Caribbean

[hns] Ethnic population: 538,500 in Guyana.  Alternate names: Aili Gaili.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari 
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Macushi

[mbc] 9,000 in Guyana (2003 SIL). Ethnic population: 9,000. Southwestern border area, Rupununi north savannahs. Spread out in small settlements up to the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains. Alternate names: Makushi, Makusi, Makuxi, Macusi, Macussi, Teweya, Teueia.  Classification: Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Macushi 
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Mapidian

[mpw]  Southwest Guyana, with the Waiwai. Alternate names: Maopityan, Maiopitian.  Classification: Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Wapishanan  Nearly extinct.
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Mawayana

[mzx] 50 (1986 Howard). Southwest Guyana, living with the Waiwai. Alternate names: Mahuayana.  Dialects: Mawayana shows no semantic similarity with Wapishana, Atorada, or Mapidian (Richard Hicks 2002).  Classification: Arawakan, Maipuran  Nearly extinct.
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Patamona

[pbc] 4,700 (1990 J. Forte). Ethnic population: 5,000 (2000 Forte). West central, about 13 villages. Alternate names: Ingariko, Eremagok, Kapon.  Dialects: Close to Macushi but not inherently intelligible. Marginally intelligible with Arecuna. Closest to Akawaio, but vocabulary differences and language attitudes make separate literature necessary.  Classification: Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Kapon 
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Pemon

[aoc] 475 Arekuna in Guyana, (1990 J. Forte). Ethnic population: 500. Paruima Settlement. Alternate names: Pemong.  Dialects: Camaracoto, Taurepan (Taulipang), Arecuna (Aricuna, Arekuna, Jaricuna).  Classification: Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Macushi-Kapon, Kapon 
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Waiwai

[waw] 200 in Guyana (1990 J. Forte). Southwest Guyana, headwaters of the Essequibo River. Alternate names: Uaiuai, Uaieue, Ouayeone, Parukota.  Dialects: Katawian (Katwena, Katawina).  Classification: Carib, Northern, East-West Guiana, Waiwai 
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Wapishana

[wap] 6,000 in Guyana (2000 J. Forte). Population total all countries: 7,500. Southwest Guyana, south of the Kanuku Mountains, northwest of the Waiwai; a few villages. Also spoken in Brazil. Alternate names: Wapichana, Wapichan, Wapitxana, Wapishshiana, Wapisiana, Vapidiana, Wapixana, Wapisana, Uapixana.  Dialects: Amariba. Lexical similarity 10% with Mapidian.  Classification: Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Wapishanan 
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Warao

[wba] Few speakers in Guyana (1990 J. Forte). Ethnic population: 5,000 in Guyana (2000 J. Forte). Northwestern, at Oreala, Guyana near coast, mixed with Arawak and Carib speakers. Alternate names: Warau, Warrau, Guarao, Guarauno.  Classification: Language Isolate 
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Extinct languages

Skepi Creole Dutch

[skw] Extinct. Essequibo Region. Dialects: Essequibo. Speakers said it was not inherently intelligible with Berbice or Rupununi. Lexical similarity 52% with Berbice.  Classification: Creole, Dutch based 
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