|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|
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 Caribbean. Classic Taíno (Taino proper) was the native language of the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and most of Hispaniola. At the time of the Spanish conquest, it was expanding into Cuba. Ciboney is essentially unattested, but colonial sources suggest it was a dialect of Taino. It was the language of westernmost Hispaniola, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and most of Cuba.
By the late 15th century, Taíno/Ciboney had displaced earlier languages except for western Cuba and pockets in Hispaniola. 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.
Granberry & Vescelius (2004) distinguish two dialects, one on Hispaniola and further east, and the other on Hispaniola and further west.
- Classic (Eastern) Taino, spoken in Classic Taino and Eastern Taino cultural areas. These were the Leeward Islands north of Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, central Hispaniola, and the Turks & Caicos (from an expansion in ca. 1200). Classic Taino was expanding into eastern and even central Cuba at the time of the Spanish Conquest, perhaps from people fleeing the Spanish in Hispaniola.
- Ciboney (Western) Taino, spoken in Ciboney and Lucayan cultural areas. These were most of Cuba, Jamaica, western Hispaniola, and the Bahamas.
The Lucayo (Bahamian) subdialect (or perhaps the Ciboney dialect) had /n/ where other dialects (or perhaps Classic Taino) had /r/. There is variation in accounts between "e" ~ "i" and "o" ~ "u", perhaps reflecting transcription of the three stable vowels of Arawakan into the five vowels of Spanish.
|1st person||daka||waka(Example: Wakayarima)|
|3rd person||lika (he), tuka (she)||naka|
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||lisika, (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:
The following are the major geographic features of the Caribbean, with their Taíno names (Carrada 2003):
- Antigua: Yaramaqui (Yaramaki)
- Cuba: Cubao (Kubao)
- Florida keys: Matacumbe (Matakumbe)
- Gonaïves (Haiti): Wanabo, Wanahibe (Wanahibo)
- Grenada: Beguia
- Grand Turk: Abawana
- Great Inagua: Babeke
- Guadalupe: Kurukeira, Wakana, Tureykeri, Turukeira
- Haiti: Ayti
- Hispaniola: Ayti, Bohio, Kiskeya (supposedly Taíno but research shows otherwise)
- Isle of Youth/Pines: Siwanea
- Jacmel (Haiti): Yakimel
- Jamaica: Xamaika, Xaymaka
- Long Island, Bahamas: Yuma
- Martinique: Iwanakairi (Iwanakaera)
- North Caycos: Kayco
- Puerto Rico: Boriken
- San Salvador (islamd): Wanahani
- St. Croix: Ayay, Cibukeira
- St. Vincent: Bayaruko
- Tortuga Island (Haiti): Kahimi, Waney
- Vieques: Bieke
- Payne D.L., "A classification of Maipuran (Arawakan) languages based on shared lexical retentions", in: Derbyshire D.C., Pullum G.K. (eds.), Handbook of Amazonian Languages, vol. 3, Berlin, 1991.
- Derbyshire D.C., "Arawakan languages", in: Bright, William (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, vol. 1, New York, 1992.
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Taino". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- 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
- The Dictionary of the Taino Language (plate 8) Alfred Carrada[unreliable source?]
- Anglería, Pedro Mártir de (1949). Décadas del Nuevo Mundo, Tercera Década, Libro VII (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Bajel.
- "Taíno Dictionary" (in Spanish). The United Confederation of Taíno People. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Alfred Carrada, 2003. The Dictionary of Taino Language (only partially reliable)