Barbacoan languages

Barbacoan languages

Barbacoan (also Barbakóan, Barbacoano, Barbacoana) is a language family spoken in Colombia and Ecuador.


Barboacoan consists of 6 languages:

  • Northern
  • Awan (also known as Awa or Pasto)
  • Awa Pit (also known as Cuaiquer, Coaiquer, Kwaiker, Awá, Awa, Telembi, Sindagua, Awa-Cuaiquer, Koaiker, Telembí)
  • Pasto–Muellama
  • Pasto (also known as Past Awá) (†)
  • Muellama (also known as Muellamués, Muelyama) (†)
  • Coconucan (also known as Guambiano–Totoró)
  • Guambiano (also known as Mogües, Moguez, Mogés, Wam, Misak, Guambiano-Moguez, Wambiano-Mogés, Moguex)
  • Totoró (also known as Polindara)
  • Coconuco (also known as Kokonuko, Cauca, Wanaka) (†)
  • Southern ? (Cayapa–Tsafiki)
  • Caranqui (also known as Cara, Kara, Karanki, Imbaya) (†)
  • Cha’palaachi (also known as Cayapa, Chachi, Kayapa, Nigua, Cha’pallachi)
  • Tsafiki (also known as Colorado, Tsafiqui, Tsáfiki, Colorado, Tsáchela, Tsachila, Campaz, Colima)

Pasto, Muellama, Coconuco, and Caranqui are now extinct.

Pasto and Muellama are usually classified as Barbacoan, but the current evidence is weak and deserves further attention. Muellama may have been one of the last surviving dialects of Pasto (both extinct, replaced by Spanish) — Muellama is known only by a short wordlist recorded in the 19th century. The Muellama vocabulary is similar to modern Awa Pit. The Cañari–Puruhá languages are ever more poorly attested, and while often placed in a Chimuan family, Adelaar (2004:397) thinks they may have been Barbacoan.

The Coconucan languages were first connected to Barbacoan by Daniel Brinton in 1891. However, a subsequent publication by Henri Beuchat and Paul Rivet placed Coconucan together with a Paezan family (which included Páez and Paniquita) due a misleading "Moguex" vocabulary list. The "Moguex" vocabulary turned out to be a mix of both Páez and Guambiano languages (Curnow 1998). This vocabulary has led to misclassifications by Greenberg (1956, 1987), Loukotka (1968), Kaufman (1990, 1994), and Campbell (1997), among others. Although Páez may be related to the Barbacoan family, a conservative view considers Páez a language isolate pending further investigation. Guambiano is more similar to other Barbacoan languages than to Páez, and thus Key (1979), Curnow et al. (1998), Gordon (2005), and Campbell & Grondona (2012) place Coconucan under Barbacoan. The moribund Totoró is sometimes considered a dialect of Guambiano instead of a separate language, and, indeed, Adelaar & Muysken (2004) state that Guambiano-Totoró-Coconuco is best treated as a single language.

The Barbácoa (Barbacoas) language itself is unattested, and is only assumed to be part of the Barbacoan family. Nonetheless, it has been assigned an ISO code, though the better-attested and classifiable Pasto language has not.

Genealogical relations

The Barbacoan languages may be related to the Páez language. Barbacoan is often connected with the Paezan languages (including Páez); however, Curnow (1998) shows how much of this proposal