Páez language

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Nasa Yuwe
Native to Colombia
Region Andes
Ethnicity 120,000 Páez (2007)[1]
Native speakers
40,000 (2007)[1]
Paezan ?
  • Páez
Language codes
ISO 639-3 pbb
Glottolog paez1247[2]

Páez (also Paez, Páes, Paes, autonym: Nasa Yuwe 'Nasa language', which is becoming increasingly used) is an isolated language of Colombia spoken by Páez people. The Ethnologue estimates about 71,400 to 83,300[citation needed] speakers, among which are counted about 40,000 monolinguals of an ethnic population of 140,000.


The Nasa Yuwe language is spoken by the second largest Colombian native community, the Páez people. This group of people is situated in the north of Cauca Department in the southwest region of Colombia. However, they had to move to other departments of Colombia like Huila, Tolima and Valle del Cauca.

Historical background[edit]

Although many Colombian indigenous languages have disappeared since colonial times, there are more than 60 languages in Colombia, which are classified in 10 linguistic families: Chibcha, Arawak, Caribe, Quichua, Tukano, Guahibo, Makú-Puinave, Witoto-Bora, Sáliba, and Chocó. Currently, the Chibcha family is compound by the languages from Santa Marta: Arhuaco, kogui, Wiwa, Tunebo, Motilone, Chimila and Cuna, but in the past people believed that the Nasa Yuwe language was part of the Chibcha family. Agriculture is the basis of their economy, and for this reason they have been fighting to expand their fields. With the territorial expansion they could spread out their own language. For instance, recently the Nasa Yuwe speakers could develop their culture in the east and west of their own township. In addition, the Páez language has been endangered for many centuries. The first threat against the language was in the 17th century with the imposition of Spanish in the official education in Colombia. Then, in the 20th century people believed that the Nasa Yuwe had their roots in the Chibcha language, but nowadays the language is considered an isolated one. Also, in the Páez townships, there are many groups of Guambianos that allow the creation of some linguistic variations and bilingualism.

Endangered Language[edit]

In the education environment, the Nasa Yuwe were oppressed by the dominant culture to achieve the goal to have “Colombian citizens”. One of the purposes of the school was to introduce civilization into the indigenous culture, therefore the children who spoke in their native language were punished. For example, some years ago, the teachers forced the students to kneel on grains of corn for hours and hours. Briefly, people have been forced to not use their native language in order to become civilized people.

Revitalizing the language[edit]

With the General Law of Education, Ethnoeducation is defined as the opportunity of education for ethnic groups, but this education needs to be related to the culture, traditions, language and native elements of the ethnic groups. To achieve the goal of giving importance to the indigenous languages, it is important to ensure that future indigenous generations preserve and relearn languages that do not have social privilege in the Colombian society. Therefore, it was necessary to implement booklets and original content material in the different languages. Although the government proposed to introduce the education of native languages in some communities, there is a lack of giving importance to the preservation of languages and identities. Besides, it is important to revitalize the nasa yuwe language because it is part of the identity of a big group of people that have been not considered part of the Colombian society. To achieve the goal, it is necessary to follow some steps: First of all. It is important the capacitation of the native teachers in all the academic aspects and the sociocultural aspects of the ethnic group. Second of all, the creation of a campaign that promotes the importance of the language in a minority community to maintain identity. The goal of the campaign is to reinforce the use of the language in the education environment and the family environment because the first and the most influential contacts of children are these two entities. The last step is to promote the project to being used with other endangered languages of our country and revitalize them. Plus, it is also necessary to create a conscience in the rest of the society to avoid the marginalization of the people who speak these native languages.

Nasa yuwe tale


  1. ^ a b Páez at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Páez". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

External links[edit]


  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press.
  • Brend, Ruth M. (Ed.). (1985). From phonology to discourse: Studies in six Colombian languages (p. vi, 133). Language Data, Amerindian Series (No. 9). Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Beuchat, Henri; & Rivet, Paul. (1910). Affinités des langues du sud de la Colombie et du nord de l'Équateur. Le Mouséon, 11, 33-68, 141-198.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Castillo y Orozco (del), Eugenio. (1877) Vocabulario Paez–Castellano. Ezequiel Uricoechea ed. Maisonneuve y Cia. Libreros Editores, París.
  • Constenla Umaña, Adolfo. (1993). La familia chibcha. In (M. L. Rodríguez de Montes (Ed.), Estado actual de la clasificación de las lenguas indígenas de Colombia (pp. 75–125). Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo.
  • Curnow, Timothy J. (1998). Why Paez is not a Barbacoan language: The nonexistence of "Moguex" and the use of early sources. International Journal of American Linguistics, 64 (4), 338-351.
  • Curnow, Timothy J.; & Liddicoat, Anthony J. (1998). The Barbacoan languages of Colombia and Ecuador. Anthropological Linguistics, 40 (3).
  • Douay, Léon. (1888). Contribution à l'américanisme du Cauca (Colombie). Compte-Rendu du Congrès International des Américanistes, 7, 763-786.
  • Fabre, Alain. (2005). Nasa Yuwe / Páez. Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos. (To appear). (Online: www.ling.fi/Entradas%20diccionario/Dic=Nasa.pdf).
  • Gerdel, Florence L. and others. (1973). Sistemas fonológicos de idiomas colombianos 2. Bogotá: Ministerio de Gobierno and Instituto Lingüístico de Verano. 132 p.
  • Gerdel, Florence L. and Marianna C. Slocum. (1976). Páez discourse, paragraph and sentence structure." In Robert E. Longacre and Frances Woods (eds.), Discourse grammar: Studies in indigenous languages of Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, 1: 259-443. Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics and Related Fields, 52(1). Dallas: SIL and the University of Texas at Arlington.
  • 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.
  • Key, Mary R. (1979). The grouping of South American languages. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
  • Landaburu, Jon. (1993). Conclusiones del seminario sobre clasificación de lenguas indígenas de Colombia. In M. L. Rodríguez de Montes (Ed.), Estado actual de la clasificación de las lenguas indígenas de Colombia (pp. 313–330). Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo.
  • Loukotka, Čestmír. (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: Latin American Studies Center, University of California.
  • Nieves Oviedo, Rocío; Tulio Rojas y Marcos Yule. (1991): Estudios Fonológicos de la Lengua Paez (Nasa Yuwe); Descripciones 6; Colciencias – Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá.
  • Rojas Curieux, Tulio; Roció Nieves Oviedo, y Marcos Yule Yatacue. (1991): Estudios Gramaticales de la Lengua Paez (Nasa Yuwe). Descripciones 7; Colciencias – Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá.
  • Slocum, Marianna C. (1986). Gramática páez. Lomalinda: Editorial Townsend.
  • Slocum, Marianna C. (1972). ¿Cómo se dice en páez?. Lomalinda: Ministerio de Gobierno.
  • Slocum, Marianna C. and Florence L. Gerdel. (1983). Diccionario: páez-español / español-páez. Lomalinda: Editorial Townsend..