|Native to||Ecuador, Colombia|
|Region||Oriente or Ecuadorian Amazon|
Official language in
|Ecuador: indigenous languages official in own territories|
While Cofán is an endangered language, it is classified as a developing language with 1400 to 2400 speakers. There are two types of Cofán: Aguarico (spoken in Ecuador) and San Miguel (primarily spoken in Colombia). Approximately 60% of Cofán speakers in Ecuador are literate in their own language.
Use of Cofán in Ecuador is connected to the language in land property rights documents and in the bilingual access to the language in schools. In Colombia, Cofán is more endangered because of war, displacement, and intermarriage.
Cofán is a language isolate. Some scholars claim Cofán is not classified into a language family. The language does exhibit some lexical similarities to Chibchan, a geographically neighboring language. However, evidence of the lexical influence Chibchan has on Cofán does not prove any genetic relationship between the two languages.
There are ten vowels in Cofán: five oral vowels and their nasal counterparts.
|Close||/i/, /ĩ/||/ɨ/, /ɨ̃/|
|Mid||/e/, /ẽ/||/o/, /õ/|
Word order in Cofán is mostly free and flexible and is influenced by pragmatic factors. (Co)subordinate clauses, however, have a strong preference for being predicate-final.
Paragraphs are a distinct and important structure in Cofán grammar. There are fifteen different paragraph types used in Cofán narrative discourse. The narrative paragraph and simultaneous paragraph “form the backbone of narrative discourse.” The coordinate descriptive paragraph and deictic paragraph are used to portray character or participant identity development and to outline situations. Reason, contrast, and antithetical paragraphs are used to foster relationships and tension between speakers and events. Amplification paragraphs, contraction paragraphs, negated antonym paragraphs and cyclic paragraphs are used in “paraphrasing” particular information. Lastly, comment paragraphs and quote and dialogue paragraphs are used to add detail to a narrative.
A written system of the Cofán alphabet has been devised by M. B. Borman. Some are simple letters, while others are compound. Nasalization on vowels is orthographically represented by placing ⟨n⟩ after the vowel. (For example, /ã/ is written ⟨an⟩.) Prenasalization on stops and affricates is orthographically represented either by placing ⟨m⟩ before bilabials (for example, ⟨mb⟩ for /ᵐb/) or by placing ⟨n⟩ elsewhere (for example, ⟨nd⟩ for /ⁿd/ and ⟨ng⟩ for /ⁿg/).