Emberá, Northern


A language of Panama

Emberá, Northern

Alternate Names
Atrato, Chocó, Cholo, Darien, Darien Emberá, Ebera Bedea, Embera, Empera, Panama Embera
Language Maps

22,500 in Panama (2012 SIL). Total users in all countries: 72,200.


Darien province: Chepigana district; Emberá province; Panama province: Chepos and Chiman districts; lowland jungle along rivers, Gulf San Miguel area.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Related languages in order of closeness: Emberá-Catíoc[cto], Emberá-Baudó [bdc], Emberá-Tadó [tdc], Epena [sja], Emberá-Chamí [cmi], and Wounmeu [noa]. Panama and Colombia dialects are inherently intelligible. Northern Embera of the Upper Baudó area and downriver Emberá-Baudó are inherently intelligible.


SOV; postpositions; noun head both initial and final; 2 (human, non-human); content q-word initial; no prefixes, up to 5 suffixes; clause constituents indicated by case-marking; verbal affixation marks number; ergativity; both tense and aspect; passives and voice (by switching order of S and O); nontonal; 20 consonant and 12 vowel phonemes (6 vowels plus autosegmental nasalization).

Language Use

Home, friends, some churches. Positive attitudes. Also use Spanish [spa].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 10%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%. Bible reading is primary motivation for L1 literacy. Poetry. Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1991–2011.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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