Miskito language

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Native to Nicaragua, Honduras
Region North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, neighbouring areas
Ethnicity Miskito people
Native speakers
180,000 (1993)[1]
  • Miskito
Language codes
ISO 639-3 miq
Glottolog misk1235[2]

Miskito (Mískitu in the Miskito language) is a Misumalpan language spoken by the Miskito people in northeastern Nicaragua, especially in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, and in eastern Honduras.

With 180,000 speakers, Miskito is the most widely spoken of a family of languages of Nicaragua and Honduras that has come to be known as Misumalpan. This name is formed from parts of the names of the family's subgroups: Miskito, Sumo, Matagalpan. Although some aspects of the internal family tree with family are uncertain, it is clear Miskito is apart from sumo and Matagalpan, which seem to share a common lower node, and that in the past Miskito was heavily influenced by other Misumalpan languages. Sumo is thought to have been dominant in the area before the period of Miskito ascendancy. Today the relationship has been reversed: many former Sumo speakers have shifted to Miskito, which has in turn heavily influenced the Sumo dialects. Several of these (Tawahka, Panamahka and Tuahka) constitute the Mayangna sub-branch of Sumo, while the Ulwa language is in another sub-branch. The Matagalpan branch of Misumalpan contains two languages that are now extinct: Matagalpa and Cacaopera. The latter was formerly spoken in parts of eastern El Salvador.

In addition to many elements borrowed from other Misumalpan languages, Miskito has a large number of loanwords from English via Creole. Even though Spanish is the official language of Nicaragua and Honduras, its influence on Miskito is much more recent and hence more superficial.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miskito at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Miskito". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
Richter, Elke (1986). "Observaciones acerca del desarrollo lexical miskito en Nicaragua". Revista de filología románica 1986 (4): 341–346. 

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