Kakwa language

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Native to Colombia (Vaupés), Brazil (Amazonas)
Native speakers
400 (2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cbv
Glottolog cacu1241[2]

The Kakwa or Cacua language is an indigenous language spoken by a few hundred people in Colombia and Brazil. There are many monolinguals, especially children.[1] Apart from being close to or a dialect of Nukak, its classification is uncertain.


The language is spoken by indigenous American Cacua people that live in Colombian and Brazilian[3] interfluvial tropical forests higher than 200 metres (660 ft) in elevation. The people have traditional livelihoods such as nomadic hunting-gathering and swidden agriculture.[1] There are some non-native speakers of Cacua that are predominantly missionary workers. Their presence has resulted in the translation of religious Christian texts, notably the Christian Bible.[4]

Bilingualism and literacy[edit]

Reports gathered by SIL in 1982 stated that many speakers are monolingual, particularly children.[1] Another promising aspect is that even though literacy is low by international standards, it is higher in the aboriginal language, at around 10%, compared to 5% in Spanish, the opposite situation of most indigenous languages of the Americas.[1] Cacua uses a Latin alphabet.[1]


The speakers are located in Wacara (In Cacua: Wacará) which is 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Mitu (In Cacua and Spanish: Mitú) in the lower Vaupes Region.[1] (In Spanish: Departamento del Vaupés).


The language uses both subject-object-verb and object-verb-subject word order.[1]

Sample text in Cacua[edit]

Ded pah jwiít jwĩ jwíih cãac cha pahatji naáwát[5]


There are two dialects: Vaupés Cacua and Macú-Paraná Cacua. Cacua is mutually intelligible with Nukak,[1] and is considered a dialect of the latter by Martins (1999). See that article for further classification.

Other names for this language include: Macu de Cubeo, Macu de Guanano, Macu de Desano, Báda.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kakwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Cacua". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Cacua entry, Global Recordings
  4. ^ Bogota Explosion!, Kids Ministry International
  5. ^ (in Cacua) Ded pah jwiít jwĩ jw... 1997, Ethnologue