Old Catío–Nutabe language

Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia
Linguistic classification: primary family or perhaps Macro-Chibchan
  • Chibchan
ISO 639-5: cba
Glottolog: chib1249[1]

The Chibchan languages (also Chíbchan, Chibchano) make up a language family indigenous to the Isthmo-Colombian area, which extends from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia and includes populations of these countries as well as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The name is derived from the name of an extinct language called Chibcha or Muisca cubun, once spoken by the people who lived in the city of Bogotá at the time of the European invasion. However, genetic and linguistic data now indicate that the original heart of Chibchan languages and Chibchan-speaking peoples may not have been in Colombia at all, but in the area of the Costa Rica-Panama border, where one finds the greatest variety of Chibchan languages.


  • A
    • Waimí (Guaymi)
    • Borũca (Brunca), Costa Rica, nearly extinct
    • Talamanca
      • Huetar (Güetar), Costa Rica, extinct
      • Bribri (Talamanca), Costa Rica and Panama
      • Cabécar (Talamanca), Costa Rica
      • Teribe (Norteño), Panama and Costa Rica
  • B
    • Pech (Paya) northeastern Honduras, endangered
    • Dorasque Panama, extinct
    • Votic
      • Rama southeastern Nicaragua, extinct or nearly so
      • Voto Costa Rica, extinct
      • Maléku (Guatuso) north-central Costa Rica, endangered
      • Corobicí northwestern Costa Rica, extinct
    • Kuna–Colombian

The extinct languages of Antioquia, Old Catío and Nutabe, have been shown to be Chibchan (Adelaar & Muysken, 2004:49). The language of the Tairona is unattested, but may well be one of the Arwako languages still spoken in the Santa Marta range. The Zenú AKA Sinú language of northern Colombia is also sometimes included, as are the Malibu languages, though without any factual basis.

Constenla argues that Cueva, the extinct dominant language of pre-Columbian Panama long assumed to be Chibchan based on a misinterpreted Kuna vocabulary, was actually Chocoan,

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