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Native to Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Ethnicity Mangue, Chorotega, Monimbo
Extinct (date missing)
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mom
Linguist List

Mangue, also known as Chorotega,[1] is an extinct Oto-Manguean language indigenous to Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The ethnic population numbered around 10,000 in 1981.[2] Chorotega-speaking peoples included the Mangue and Monimbo; dialects were Chorotega proper, Diria, Nagrandan, Nicoya, Orisi, and Orotiña.

The Oto-Manguean languages are spoken mainly in Mexico and it is thought that the Mangue people moved south from Mexico together with the speakers of Subtiaba and Chiapanec well before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Americas.[3]

Some sources list "Choluteca" as an alternative name of the people and their language, and this has caused some (for example Terrence Kaufman 2001) to speculate that they were the original inhabitants of the city of Cholula, who were displaced with the arrival of Nahua people in central Mexico. The etymology for the nomenclature "Chorotega" in this case would come from the Nahuatl language where "Cholōltēcah" means "inhabitants of Cholula", or "people who have fled". The Region south of Honduras derives its name from this nahuatl word, present day Choluteca, and Choluteca City. Choluteca was originally inhabited by Chorotega groups. Daniel Garrison Brinton argued that the name chorotega was a Nahuatl exonym meaning "people who fled" given after a defeat by Nahuan forces that split the Chorotega-Mangue people into to groups. He argued that the better nomenclature was Mangue, derived from the groups endonym mankeme meanings "lords".[1]

In Guaitil, Costa Rica, the Mangue have been absorbed into the Costa Rican culture, losing their language, but pottery techniques and styles have been preserved.[4][5]

Brinton[1] gives a list of Mangue words and phrases some of which are:

The Verb "to be,"

I am, cejo.
Thou art, simuh.
He is, neje sumu.
We are, cis mi muh.


My, amba, mba.
He, neje.
She, neja.


Koi murio, It is already dawn.
Koi yujmi, It is already night.
Koi prijpi, It is already growing dark.
Susupusca? How are you?
Ko' mi muya' i ku ? And you, how are you ?
Camo cujmi umyaique, Nasi pujimo camo? There is nothing new; and you, how are you ?
Gusapo, Take a seat
Pami nyumuta, The food is good
Ropia, Come here
Uño I See I
Mis upa'? Where are you going?
Taspo, Yes.
Tapame, Be good.

Brinton also compares the color terms of Mangue and Chiapanec:

Mangue. Chiapanec.
Black, nanzome. dujamä.
White, nandirime. dilimä.
Yellow, nandiume. nandikumä.
Blue or Green nandipame ndipamä
Red, arimbome. nduimä

And a number of Nicaraguan placenames that come from the Mangue language:

"Nindiria (from ninda, shore, dirn, hill), Nakutiri (from naktu, fire, dirn, hill), Monimbe (ntimbu, water, rain), Nandasinmo (nanda, brook), Mombonasi (nasi, woman), Aasaya, Managua, Namotiva, Norome, Nicoya, Oretina"



  • Kaufman, Terrence, (2001) Nawa linguistic prehistory, published at website of the Mesoamerican Language Documentation Project
  • Fabre, Alain, (2005) Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos: OTOMANGUE.[1]
  • McCallister, Rick. Mangue Chorotega, published on line in 2012 (80+ pages in PDF) (based on Quirós Rodríguez’s compilation with added toponyms, cultural terms, etc.)
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