UCB Studies Language of a Wrecked African Slave Ship Spoken by Very Few

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Repeating Islands

UC Berkeley linguistics professor and graduate students studied the almost dead language of Garifuna.

UC Berkeley linguistics professor Lev Michael and nine graduate students studied the complex indigenous language of Garifuna, according to a UC Berkeley press release.

There are approximately 200,000 Garinagu living in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. There are also some transplants to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and New York City.

The group worked with native Garifuna (pronounced Ga-RIF-foo-nah) speaker Philip Tim Palacio of Rocklin, California.

The Garifuna people trace their origins to a wrecked African slave ship that washed ashore in the Caribbean in 1675. On the ship were Calinago, Carib and Arawaks who inhabited the Eastern Caribbean Islands including St. Vincent.

Intermingling of the Caribs, Africans and indigenous Arawaks resulted in the Garifuna language, which also was influenced by English, Spanish and French. Garifuna belongs to the Arawak linguistic family, whose members are mostly…

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