The Chibchan languages (also Chibchan, Chibchano) make up a language family indigenous to the Isthmo-Colombian Area, which extends from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia and includes populations of these countries as well as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The name is derived from the name of an extinct language called Chibcha or Muysccubun, once spoken by the people who lived on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense of which the city of Bogotá was the southern capital at the time of the Spanish Conquista. However, genetic and linguistic data now indicate that the original heart of Chibchan languages and Chibchan-speaking peoples may not have been in Colombia at all, but in the area of the Costa Rica-Panama border, where one finds the greatest variety of Chibchan languages.
|Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia|
|Linguistic classification||Macro-Chibchan ?|
- Waimí (Guaymi)
- Borũca (Brunca) – 140 speakers, moribund
- Pech (Paya) – 990 speakers, endangered
- Dorasque †
- Kuna (Dulegaya) – 60,600 speakers, vulnerable in Panama, endangered in Colombia
The extinct languages of Antioquia, Old Catío and Nutabe have been shown to be Chibchan (Adelaar & Muysken, 2004:49). The language of the Tairona is unattested, apart from a single word, but may well be one of the Arwako languages still spoken in the Santa Marta range. The Zenú AKA Sinú language of northern Colombia is also sometimes included, as are the Malibu languages, though without any factual basis.
Constenla argues that Cueva, the extinct dominant language of Pre-Columbian Panama long assumed to be Chibchan based on a misinterpreted Kuna vocabulary, was actually Chocoan, but there is little evidence.
The Cofán language (Kofán, Kofane, A'i) of Ecuador and Colombia has been erroneously included in Chibchan due to borrowed vocabulary.
- Constenla Umaña, A. (1981). Comparative Chibchan Phonology. (Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia).
- Constenla Umaña, Adolfo. (1991). Las lenguas del Área Intermedia: Introducción a su estudio areal. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, San José.
- Constenla Umaña, Adolfo. (1995). Sobre el estudio diacrónico de las lenguas chibchenses y su contribución al conocimiento del pasado de sus hablantes. Boletín del Museo del Oro 38–39: 13–56.
- Greenberg, Joseph H. (1987). Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Holt, Dennis (1986). The Development of the Paya Sound-System. (Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles).
- Quesada, J. Diego (2007). The Chibchan Languages. Editorial Tecnológica de Costa Rica, 259 pp. ISBN 9977-66-186-3.
- A journal of Chibchan linguistics Estudios de Lingüistica Chibcha is published by the Universidad de Costa Rica.
- COMPARATIVE CHIBCHAN PHONOLOGY — Dissertation.