Carib, also known as Cariban, is a language family native to the Caribbean and parts of South America. The majority of Carib speakers live in Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. There are also sizable communities in Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and Brazil.
Carib is an Amerindian language family that belongs to the larger Macro-Arawakan group. It is thought to have originated in the Orinoco River Valley of Venezuela and spread throughout the Caribbean and parts of South America. The Carib language family is divided into two branches: Northern and Southern. The Northern branch includes the languages of the Lesser Antilles, such as Garifuna and Island Carib. The Southern branch includes the languages of the mainland, such as Wapishana and Wayana.
Caribbean languages are typically agglutinative, meaning that words are built up from smaller units called morphemes. For example, the Carib word for “house” is karíba, made up of the root kari- and the suffix -ba. This word-building process can create very long words, such as the Wapishana word for “What kind of person are you?”, which is composed of 13 morphemes.
Caribbean languages are also known for their use of reduplication, a process in which a word or syllable is repeated for emphasis. For example, the Garifuna word for “small” is kulugu, but the word for “very small” is kulugu-kulugu.
Caribbean languages are spoken in a wide variety of settings, from rural villages to urban areas. In Guyana, for example, Wapishana is spoken in the Rupununi Savannah, while in Suriname, Island Carib is spoken in the capital city of Paramaribo.
Caribbean languages have been in contact with a number of other language families over the years, including Arawakan, Dutch, English, French, and Portuguese. As a result, Caribbean languages have borrowed words from these other languages. For example, the Carib word for “boat” is kámara, which comes from the Portuguese word barca.
Despite this contact with other languages, Carib languages have remained relatively stable. This is due in part to the effort of linguists and language activists to document and promote Carib languages. In Guyana, for example, the Wapishana Language and Cultural Centre was established in 2004 to promote the Wapishana language and culture.
The future of Carib languages is uncertain, as many of them are spoken by small communities of people. However, the documentation and promotion of these languages by linguists and language activists may help to ensure their survival.