Saliba language

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Not to be confused with Saliba language (Papua New Guinea).
Native to Colombia and Venezuela
Native speakers
(1,600 cited 1991–2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 slc
Glottolog sali1298[2]

Saliba (Spanish: Sáliba, Sáliva) is an indigenous language of Eastern Colombia and Venezuela.[3] Saliba was used by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century to communicate with indigenous peoples of the Meta, Orinoco, and Vichada valleys. An 1856 watercolor by Manuel María Paz is an early depiction of the Saliva people in Casanare Province.[4]


"Saliba was spoken by an ethnic group that lived along the central reaches of the Orinoco River."[5]

"This language group was so isolated that the language was reported extinct in 1965."[6] It is not being passed on to many children, but that practice is being reconsidered. As of 2007, "Sáliva speakers now are almost all bilingual in Spanish, and Sáliva children are only learning Spanish instead of their ancestral language."[6]

As of 2007, "In the Orocué area the language is only conserved to a high degree among elderly women; others understand Sáliba but no longer express themselves in the language."[1]


"Sáliba is an SOV language with noun classes and nominal classifiers. The language has a rich morphological system. In some cases, the realization of a verbal morpheme depends upon the form of the stem."[3]


"Sáliba has a limited voicing distinction, and boasts six places of articulation for plosives. There are also two rhotics, and nasal counterparts for each of the five places of articulation for vowels."[3]


  1. ^ a b Saliba at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Saliba (Colombia)". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c "E-MELD School of Best Practice: About Sáliba". E-MELD. 2005. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  4. ^ Paz, Manuel María. "Saliva Indian Women Making Cassava Bread, Province of Casanare". World Digital Library. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  5. ^ "A Study of the Saliba Language". World Digital Library. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  6. ^ a b Anderson, Gregory; K. David Harrison (2007). "Language Hotspots - Northern South and Central America". Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 

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