|Native to||Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos|
|Region||Caribbean (Greater Antilles)|
|Extinct||Closest relative believed to be Goajiro language|
Cayaba (Haiti and Florida Keys)
Cubaba (Cuba and Hispaniola)
Classic Taíno (Puerto Rico)
Taíno is an extinct Arawakan language historically spoken by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. At the time of Spanish contact, it was the principal language throughout the Taínos' sphere, which included the Bahamas, most of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the northern Lesser Antilles.
In the late 15th century Taíno had displaced earlier languages except for pockets in western Cuba and western Hispaniola. It may have been spoken in the Lesser Antilles until the Taíno were displaced by the Carib. As the Taíno declined during Spanish colonization the language was replaced with Spanish and other European languages. As the first native language encountered by Europeans in the New World, it was a major source of new words borrowed into European languages.
- Baicagua (Baykawa) on Hispaniola. Bay means 'house, dwelling' and kawa means 'cave'.
- Cayaba on Hispaniola (Haiti) and on "islands".[clarification needed] From cay 'small island' and -ba locative.
- Cubaba on Cuba and Hispaniola. From cuba 'Cuba' and -ba locative.
- Lucayo / Yucayo in the Bahamas. From lu ~ yu 'white', cay 'small island', and -o 'where'.
- Eyeri on Puerto Rico (and the Lesser Antilles?), the dialect of the Igñeri Taino. The word for 'man' in Island Carib. (Igñeri/Eyeri is generally considered a separate but related language.)
Lucayo dialect had "n" where other dialects have "r". Eyeri had "a" for "o". There was variation between "e" ~ "i" and "o" ~ "u", perhaps reflecting the three stable vowels of Arawakan.
Bartolomé de Las Casas (1875) describes three dialects (see map at top right):
- Ciboney (Western) Taíno: Spoken in most of Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Western Hispaniola.
- Classic Taíno: Spoken in Eastern Cuba, most of Hispanola, Puerto Rico, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Eastern Taino: Spoken in Eastern Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands.
The Taino language did not have a system of writing; therefore, the following are reconstituted phonemes:
|3rd person||likía (he), tukía (she)||hakía, nakía|
Verbs in the Taino language follow similar conjugation patterns as seen in other Arawakan languages. Below is an example of how a regular verb (asika: give) is conjugated. Notice that the prefixes on the various verb forms reflect the same beginning consonants as their corresponding personal pronouns.
|3rd person||lusika, nusika (he gives)
tusika (she gives)
Taino words in English
As the language of first contact, Taíno was one of the most important sources of Native American vocabulary in Spanish, involving hundreds of words for unfamiliar plants, animals, and cultural practices, and through Spanish to other European languages such as French and English. Below is a list of several English words derived from the Taino language.:
barbecue - barbakoa
cacique (Latin American native chief) - kasike
caiman - kaimā
cannibal - kaniba
canoe - kanowa
Caribbean - karibe
cassava (yucca) - kasabi
cay - kaya
ceiba (a type of tropical tree) - seiba
coquí (a small frog found in Puerto Rico) - koki
guava - wayaba
hammock - hamaka
hurricane - hurakan
iguana - iwana
maize (corn) - mahisi
manatee - manati
mangrove - manwe
mauby (a type of Caribbean tree whose bark is used in making a fermented drink) - mabi
papaya - papaya
potato - batata
savanna - sabana
tobacco - tabako
The following are the major geographic features of the Caribbean, with their Taíno names (Carrada 2003):
- Antigua: Yaramaqui
- Cuba: Cuba ~ Coba
- Florida keys: Matacumbe
- Gonaïves (Haiti): Guanabo, Guanahibe
- Grenada: Beguia
- Grand Turk: Abawana
- Great Inagua: Babeque
- Guadalupe: Curuqueira, Guacana, Tureyqueri, Turuqueira
- Hispaniola: Ayiti, Quisqueya (supposedly Taíno but research shows otherwise)
- Isle of Youth/Pines: Siguanea
- Jamaica: Jamaica, Amayca
- Long Island, Bahamas: Yuma
- Martinique: Iguanacaire
- North Caycos: Kayco
- Puerto Rico: Boriken
- San Salvador (isl.): Guanahani
- St. Croix: Ayay, Cibuquiera
- St. Vincent: Bayaruco
- Tortuga Island (Haiti): Cajimi, Guaney
- Vieques: Bieque
- Payne D.L. A classification of Maipuran (Arawakan) languages based on shared lexical retentions // Derbyshire D.C., Pullum G.K. (Eds.) Handbook of Amazonian languages, vol. 3. Berlin, 1991;
- Derbyshire D.C. Arawakan languages // International encyclopedia of linguistics, ed. William Bright, vol. 1. New York, 1992;
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Taino". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Carrada, Alfred. The Dictionary of Taino Language. 2003. http://www.alfredcarrada.org/preface.html
- Granberry, Julian & Vescelius, Gary. Languagues of the Pre-Columbian Antilles. The University of Alabama Press 2004. p. 92.
- Granberry, Julian & Vescelius, Gary. Languagues of the Pre-Columbian Antilles. The University of Alabama Press 2004. pp. 101-122
- Anglería, Pedro Mártir de (1949). Décadas del Nuevo Mundo, Tercera Década, Libro VII (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Bajel.
- Alfred Carrada, 2003. The Dictionary of Taino Language (only partially reliable)