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Title: Chocoan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Panama, History of Panama, Chibchan languages, Cueva language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Not to be confused with Xocó language.
Colombia & Panama
Linguistic classification: Chocoan
  • Emberá
  • Waunana
Ethnologue code: 17-3670

The Choco languages (also Chocoan, Chocó, Chokó) are a small family of Native American languages spread across Colombia and Panama.

Family division

Choco consists of perhaps ten languages, half of them extinct.

  • The Emberá languages (also known as Chocó proper, Cholo)
  • Noanamá (also known as Waunana, Woun Meu)
  • Anserma (†)
  • Cenu (†) ?
  • Cauca (†) (not Choco?)
  • Sinúfana (Cenufara) (†) ?
  • Quimbaya (Kimbaya) (†) (not Choco?)
  • Caramanta (†) ?
  • Runa (†)

Anserma, Cenu, Cauca, Sinúfana, Runa, and Kimbaya are all extinct now. Quimbaya is known from only 8 words.

The Emberá group is two languages mainly in Colombia with over 60,000 speakers that lie within a fairly mutually intelligible dialect continuum. Ethnologue divides this into 6 languages. Kaufman (1994) considers the term Cholo to be vague and condescending. Noanamá has some 6,000 speakers on the Panama-Colombia border.

Kaufman (1994) states that Quimbaya may not be a Choco language.

Genetic relations

Choco has been included in a number of hypothetical phylum relationships:

See also


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Constenla Umaña, Adolfo; & Margery Peña, Enrique. (1991). Elementos de fonología comparada Chocó. Filología y lingüística, 17, 137-191.
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1987). Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Gunn, Robert D. (Ed.). (1980). Claificación de los idiomas indígenas de Panamá, con un vocabulario comparativo de los mismos. Lenguas de Panamá (No. 7). Panama: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.
  • Loewen, Jacob. (1963). Choco I & Choco II. International Journal of American Linguistics, 29.
  • Licht, Daniel Aguirre. (1999). Embera. Languages of the world/materials 208. LINCOM.
  • Mortensen, Charles A. (1999). A reference grammar of the Northern Embera languages. Studies in the languages of Colombia (No.7); SIL publications in linguistics (No. 134). SIL.
  • Rivet, Paul; & Loukotka, Cestmír. (1950). Langues d'Amêrique du sud et des Antilles. In A. Meillet & M. Cohen (Eds.), Les langues du monde (Vol. 2). Paris: Champion.
  • Suárez, Jorge. (1974). South American Indian languages. The new Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th ed.). Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
  • Swadesh, Morris. (1959). Mapas de clasificación lingüística de México y las Américas. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Tovar, Antonio; & Larrucea de Tovar, Consuelo. (1984). Catálogo de las lenguas de América del Sur (nueva ed.). Madrid: Editorial Gedos. ISBN 84-249-0957-7.

External links

  • Proel: Familia Chocó
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