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Guajiboan languages

Wahívoan, Guajiboan
Colombian and Venezuelan llanos
Linguistic classificationMacro-Arawakan (?)
  • Guajiban
Guahiban languages.png

Guajiboan (also Guahiban, Wahívoan, Guahiboan) is a language family spoken in the Orinoco River region in eastern Colombia and southwestern Venezuela, which is a savannah-like area known in Colombia as the Llanos.

Family division

Guajiboan consists of 5 languages:

  • Macaguane (also known as Hitnü, Macaguán, Makawane, Agualinda, Agualinda Guahibo, Támude)
  • Southwest Guajiboan
    • Guayabero (also known as Cunimía, Mítiwa, Mitúa, Mitu, Hiw, Jiw, Wayavero, Guaviare)
    • Churuya (also known as Bisanigua, Guaigua) (†)
  • Central Guajiboan
    • Guajibo (also known as Guahibo, Sikuani, Sicuani, Chiricoa, Hiwi, Jiwi, Jivi, Wahivo, Wahibo, Guaybo, Goahibo, Guaigua, Guayba, Goahiva)
      • Waü (west)
      • Newütjü (also known as Tigrero)
      • Parawá (east)
      • Hamorúa (also known as Amorúa, Jamorúa)
      • Dome (also known as Playero, Cajaro)
    • Cuiva (also known as Wamonae, Cuiba, Kuiba, Deja, Cuiba-Wámonae)
      • Pimenepiwi (Meta river)
      • Aitopiwi (Ariporo river)
      • Yaraüraxi (Capanaparo river)
      • Waüpiwi (also known as Wipiwi, Yomati)
      • Siripuxi (also known as Tsiripu, Siripu)
      • Mayaraxi (also known as Mariposo, Mayalero)

Churuya is now extinct. It was formerly spoken in Meta, Colombia.

Macaguane is listed as a dialect of Guajibo in Kaufman (1994) and Campbell (1997). Gordon (2005) lists Playero (also Rio Arauca Guahibo), a dialect of Guajibo, as a separate language with a "low intelligibility of other Guahibo".

Guajibo and Cuiva form a dialect continuum.

Guajibo has the most speakers (over 23,000) and is the largest indigenous group in eastern Colombia. Approximately 9,000 in Venezuela.

Guayabero is the most divergent language of the family.

Genetic relations

Guajiboan has often been grouped together with Arawakan, Arauan, and Candoshi by many classifiers. However, this now seems unlikely as the similarity between Guajiboan and Arawakan has been attributed to language contact.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Guahiboan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.


  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press.
  • Berg, Marie L. and Isabel J. Kerr. (1973) The Cuiva language: Grammar. Language Data, Amerindian Series, 1. Santa Ana, CA: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1987). Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • 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.
  • Keels, Jack. (1985). "Guayabero: Phonology and morphophonemics." In Ruth M. Brend (ed.), From phonology to discourse: Studies in six Colombian languages: 57-87. Language Data, Amerindian Series, 9. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Queixalós, Francisco. (1988). "Presentación"; Diccionario sikuani–español: i-xiii. Bogotá: CCELA Universidad de los Andes. ISN 0121-0963. (in Spanish)
  • Rivet, Paul (1948) "Le famille linguistique Guahibo"; Journal de la Socité des Américanistes XXXVII: 191-240. Paris. (in French)

External links