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Garifuna (Black Carib, Moreno, Garinagu)

Language: Garifuna is an Arawakan language of Central America, spoken by more than 150,000 people in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize. The Garifuna people are mixed-race (and frequently referred to as the Black Caribs)-- their community is said to have originated because Caribbean people attacking Spanish ships in the 1600's adopted the African slaves they freed. This alliance served both groups very well, as the Africans were never re-enslaved and the Garifuna are one of the few Carib peoples who have survived as a distinct culture and with their native language thriving.

Like many Carib languages, Garifuna is a polysynthetic language with complex verbs. It uses VSO word order. Interestingly, although Garifuna culture and religion have absorbed many elements from African traditions, there are almost no words of African origin in the Garifuna language. Our Garifuna volunteer believes this is because the freed African captives did not all speak the same language, so they switched quickly to the Garifuna language in order to communicate and their own words were not preserved.

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Names: "Garifuna" is a tribal name, which comes from a Garifuna word meaning "cassava" (the primary food crop of the Garifuna culture.) The plural name Garinagu, "cassava people," is often used to refer to the whole tribe. Alternate spellings of these names include Karifuna, Kariphuna, Karaphuna, Karipona, Garifune, Garufuna, Garfuna, Karinagu, Gari'nagu, Carif, Cariff, or Karif. Their neighbors called them the Morenos or Black Caribs. The Garifuna are closely related to another tribe with a similar name, Kalinago, which also comes from an Arawakan word for "cassava." Because of this the Garifuna are sometimes also called "Kalinagos," and both Garifuna and Kalinago people are often referred to as Island Caribs or Caribes.

Garifuna Language
Garifuna language samples and resources.

Garifuna Tribe Culture and History
Information and links about the Garifuna Indians past and present.

Our Online Garifuna Materials

Garifuna Words
     Our list of vocabulary words in the Garifuna language, with comparison to words in other Arawakan languages.

Garifuna Dictionaries and Language Books for Sale
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Garudia: Garifuna Trilingual Dictionary:
    A good Garifuna dictionary with both Spanish and English indexes.
Learn Garifuna Now!:
    Garifuna language learning book for sale.

Garifuna Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Omniglot: Garifuna:
    Profile of the Garifuna language including a phonological inventory, orthography and a text.
Garifuna Language:
    Garifuna information from Indigenous Languages of the Caribbean.
Garifuna Diccionario:
    Online Spanish-Garifuna glossary of words and phrases.
A Caribbean Vocabulary Compiled in 1666
     Comparison of 17th-century Caribe vocabulary with modern Garifuna words.
The Garifuna Language, Dance and Music
     Article about Garifuna language and cultural endangerment in Belize.
Human Rights: Garifuna:
    Translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into the Garifuna language.
Garifuna Prayers:
    Garifuna translation of the Lord's Prayer.
Tower of Babel in Garifuna: * Garifuna New Testament: * Garifuna Words of Life:
    Translation of the Bible into the Garifuna language.
Language Map of Belize and Guatemala: * Languages of Honduras:
     Maps showing the location of Garifuna and Belize Creole speakers in Latin America.
Garífuna Language Tree:
    Theories about Garifuna's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Garifuna Language Structures:
    Garifuna linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
Garifunas Placenames:
     Chart of Central American place names in Garifuna.
Garifuna Papers:
    Archive of linguistics papers on Garifuna, in English and Portuguese.

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Links, References, and Additional Information

  Endangered Languages Project: Garifuna:
  Bibliography of Garifuna language resources.
  OLAC: Garifuna:
  Reference list of Garifuna language materials.
  Wikipedia: Garifuna:
  Encyclopedia articles on the Garifuna language.
  Lengua Garifuna: * Idioma de los Garífunas: * Diccionario Garifuna:
  Information on the Garifuna language in Spanish.

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