Skip to main content

Full text of "rosettaproject_car_morsyn-1"

See other formats

The Carib Language as Now Spoken in Dominica, West Indies 

Joseph Numa Rat 

The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland , Vol. 27 (1898), 

Stable URL: 

The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland is currently published by Royal 
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR’s Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR’ s Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you 
have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and 
you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. 

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at 

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or 
printed page of such transmission. 

JSTOR is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating and preserving a digital archive of 
scholarly journals. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact 
MonJun 6 16:40:43 2005 


The Carib Language as now spoken in Dominica, West 
Indies. By Joseph Numa Bat, St. Kitts, West Indies, 
February, 1897. 


Five of the vowel sounds used in these illustrations of the Carib 
language are those of the Italian, viz., a, e, i, o, u. A sixth is 
that of a short u and corresponds to the vowel as it is 
pronounced in the French word vu ; e.g ., susu = a bird. A 
seventh is the short t pronounced as in the English sin and 
found in such words as idtina = I am, in which the second i 
is so lightly sounded that the third syllable may be omitted in 
conversation and the verb become iatnci. 

Whenever two or more vowels are in contact each is 
pronounced separately. 

The consonants have more or less the same sounds as in 
English. They are the same in number as in that language 
with the exception of the soft c , j, jsc, and z, which are not 
employed in Carib, and d , which is probably replaced by t. 

The compound consonants are nh and ch. The former occurs 
in nha, which is the third person plural of the personal pronoun. 
The n is pronounced, as far as it can be, before the h which is 
aspirated. The latter, when at the beginning of a word, is 
sounded as in the English church \ and, when final, as in the 
Scotch loch . 

The letter h is always aspirated. 

The accent in the Carib words will be indicated by placing 
the French acute accent over the vowel on which it falls ; e.g., in 
mMu, the accent should be placed on the penultimate, and, in 
hdruti, on the antepenultimate syllable. 

As a rule to which I remember no exception, the accent in 
words of two syllables is placed on the penultimate, and, in 
those of three or more syllables, on the antepenultimate 

The Article. 

The indefinite. 

The indefinite article is expressed, as it is in many other 
languages, by the word meaning one, viz., diet : dice mMu = a 
person ; dba ydmati = a basket. The word dbci is sometimes 
omitted in phrases in which the indefinite article is expected in 

U 2 


J. jNT. ItAT. — The Carib Language 

English ; thus, apardnnba buiruhu , na.puraku wdtit nakutahani 
= if I kill a wild pig, I light a fire to roast it ; dtuka krieti 
mdtu dba bdti = when a person wants to build a house. 
Buiruhu = wild pig ; ivdtu = fire ; mutu = person. 

The definite. 

There is no definite article in Carib. This is shown by the 
following sentences, barundmuti urma ardbsen = I took the 
road through the forest ( barunicmuti = I took, iurma = road, 
ardbsen = through the forest) ; sulutna tuna akdiruku = I 
reached the bank of the river (siilutna = I reached, tima = 
river, akdiruku — bank). 

The place of the definite article is supplied by the third 
person of the personal pronoun and by the demonstrative pro- 
noun, e.g. y Idkusa sibui = the gommier tree (< sibui = gommier, 
dkusa — tree, l , short for li y = the third person singular of the 
personal pronoun) ; Idkusa liha sibui = the tree of the gommier 
(liha = a demonstrative pronoun) ; dba iv&kuri = a boy, dbana 
liha vjdkuri = one of the boys ; harutium nhilewe = the flowers 
are white ( harittium = white, ileice = flowers, nh y short for nha, 
= the third person plural of the personal pronoun). 

The Substantive. 

The subject of a sentence may either precede or follow the 
verb ; nibdya su ban awdita = all my children are grown up 
( nibdya = my children, su = all) ; yanhi nhapukasa su nibaya 
= all my children were born there. 

There is no declension in the Carib language. The possessive 
noim generally precedes the others ; thus, tima akairuku = the 
bank of the river ; kiere dkusa = pieces of manioc (tima = 
river, kiere = manioc). It may, however, follow; e.g. y lubuye 
liha barandkiri = the house of the white man (lubuye = the 
house, liha = the, barandkiri = white man) ; liibuye aba miitu 
= the house of a person. The relation between the nouns in 
such instances can only be gathered from their meaning. 

Dependence on a verb when direct is expressed by placing 
the dependent noun immediately after the verb ; when indirect, 
by inserting the personal pronoun of the third person between 
the verb and the noun. W a sudha wdiriti wiwe = we cut down 

the large trees (wa = we, sudha = cut down, wdiriti = large, 
weioe trees). Bubdi uihi limi didi = give the meat to the dog 
(_ Rubdi — give, uihi == meat, Idni = to him (the), duli = dog). 

Instrumentality is indicated by the preposition do = with ; 
Ido akuruku = with creepers ; Ido musiirc = with leaves ; motion 
from, by odma = frcm lodria bdti = from the house. 

as now spoken in Dominica , West Indies . 


When placed before a noun, such prepositions as do , odria, 
etc., have always prefixed to them the third person of the 
personal pronoun, viz., I or t , short for li or ti, according as 
the noun is masculine or feminine. 


The plural has generally the same termination as the singular. 
This is doubtless due to the want of education as well as to the 
indolence of those by whom the Carib language is now spoken, 
the context being left to indicate the number of the noun. 

When a Carib is sufficiently pressed to make a distinction 
between the two numbers, it is found that this is effected by 
adding em or iem to some, and um or ium to other nouns. 


The letters l and t prefixed to substantives indicate the 
masculine and feminine genders respectively. It should, how- 
ever, be remembered that l and t are short for li and ti , the 
masculine and feminine of the third person of the personal pro- 
noun which serve the purposes of the detinite article and the 
possessive pronoun. In such expressions, therefore, as Jdakw 
lisibu = over his face, and tdaku tisibu = over her face, the 
literal translation should be, over the face of him or over him, 

, his face, and over the face of her or over her, her face. 

Hence Carib substantives may be grouped in two classes, the 
l class and the i class ; and, as the former include all male, and 
the latter, all female beings, the substantives of these two 
groups may be described as masculine and feminine respectively 
with as much propriety in Carib as in any other language. 

A few substantives, like duli = dog, being common to both 
sexes, may also be correctly described as being of a common 
gender. In such cases the sex is indicated by placing the word 
wtikicri = male, or wuri = female, before the substantive. 

The majority of the substantives of the l or masculine class 
end in i or e ; and the majority of those of the t or feminine 
class in o or u. 


Adjectives, when in direct contact with the substantives which 
they qualify, always precede the latter ; wairiti wdwe = large 
trees (wdwe = trees) ; kibe iveyu = many days {wdyu — days). 

When the modern Carib takes the trouble of expressing the 
plural of an adjective, he does so by adding to the singular the 
same termination as in the case of the substantive. 


J. 1ST. Eat. — The Carib Language 

Degrees of comparison are indicated by means of such suffixes 
as odria , lati, hasi , sikukua Ido, Idbu, etc. 

The first of these is used in conjunction with personal pro- 
nouns in the following way : — 




Plural . . 

Nodria . . . . 

(More than I.) 
Waodria . . • . 

(More than we.) 


(More than thou.) 

(More than ye.) 


Lodria . 

(More than he.) 

(More than they.) 

The subjoined sentences illustrate the use of the above 
suffixes : — 

Wairitna lodria lira = I am taller than he. 

Lika wdiriti nodria = He is taller than I. 

Maivairilritiiva Mlati = We are not as big as you. 

Wairiti Uha mdsu hasi liha dull = The cat is as big as the 

HanuhuUtna Mwe sikukua Ido biUrtihti arasdni = I fear a 
t6te de chien (name of a snake) more than a wild pig. 

Liha bimeti Idbu lihuya = This one is less sweet than that 
one ( dbu = under or beneath). 

The superlative, when used absolutely, is expressed either by 
repeating the adjective, e.g., wiri wiri = very black, haru haru 
= very white, or by lengthening the vowel of the first syllable, 
thus wiiiiri, haaaaru. When employed relatively, it is formed 
as in French, by placing Uha = the, before the comparative. 



There are two forms of the personal pronoun, viz., the 
absolute aud the conjunctive. 

The absolute . 




Plural • • 

NuJcuya . , . . 

or Ao . . . . 

7 VaJcuya . . . . 

Bulcuya . . \ 

or Amoro . . j 

Hukuya . . 

f LiTcuya (masc.) 
\ TuTcuya (fern.) 

Kdta mtitu ydnhi = Who is there ? 

Ao = It is I ; Amoro = It is thou ; Wdhuya = It is we. 

as now spoken in Dominica, West Indies . 


Though generally reserved for the absolute form of the pro- 
noun, the above may be used in conjunction with verbs in cases 
in which emphasis is required, e.g., 

Ao ba btima = I go with thee. 

Amoro ba ntima = Thou goest with me. 

Likuya atHkdyali = He did it. 

Ao and dmoro are used by men, and nukuya and btikuya by 
women. The other persons are used by both sexes. 

The Conjunctive. 








Li (masc.) or Ti 

Plural . . 


Ha, . 


Biabri wdyu Idusen ni siruni = It is four days since I left. 
Nha bundhcii lubuydkua = They buried him in his own 

When the verb begins with a vowel, the terminal vowel of 
the pronoun is dropped ; dttiha = to make ; natukaya = I am 
making ; abtiaha = to cook ; tabudhaya aikini = she cooks my 

The relations of the personal pronouns to other words are 
indicated by such suffixes as tlni, r dma ) droman, daku, odria, etc., 
added to the pronominal consonants n, b, l or t, h , nh, and to 
v:a, the first person plural : — 






Buni • • • . 

Luni or Tuni. 

Plural . . 

Wauni . . . . 



Bdbai mini = Give it to me. 

Ni sikuba Uha buni lo bdlieru bdruru nuni = I give you this 
to buy plantains for me. 

Chisdntina buni = I love you. 

Kdriti ndri nuni = I have toothache (literally, my tooth is 
painful to me). 

Nibisikadtina bodria = I am ashamed of you. 

Akuimdhati Mima = He is making love to her. 

The forms in imi are used when the pronouns are in the 


J. N. Bat. — The Cavil Language 

dative case or when they are indirectly dependent on verbs. 
When they are directly governed by verbs or placed at the end 
of words, they are expressed as follows : — 






Bu or B . # 

(m.) Li or I. 

(f.) Ti or Tu . 

Plural • • 


Hu. , . . . . 

Em or TJm, 

Nulainuba Kairalu , nahivubdtibu = If I go to Boseau, I will 
see you. 

Nha bundhai mak&iti = They buried him without a coffin 
(bundhai = buried him). 

Barihubatina mamdruku = Thou wilt see me to-morrow. 
Kdtana = Who am I ? Kdtahti — Who are ye ? 

Kua , in combination with a personal pronoun, corresponds to 
the English “ self.” It is affixed to that form of the pronoun 
which ends in tini. 





Eunikua . . 

Bunikua . . 


Plural . . 


j Hunikua . • 


= I myself, thou thyself, 


Ardmeta = To hide (trans.). 

Arametdkua = To hide (intrans.), or to hide oneself. 
Narametdkua nunikua = I am hiding myself. 

The words liha (masc.), and Wm (fern.), which are really 
demonstrative pronouns, meaning “this,” are used to indicate 
“ him,” and “ her ” ; loaku liha = on top of him ; Idaku tiiha =- 
on top of her ; tidmati liha = he is pretty ; tidmatu Wm = she 
is pretty. 


Possessive pronouns are expressed by prefixing the personal 
pronouns or the letters which represent them to substantives : 
nukitsiri = my father ; nukusuru = my mother ; niani = my 
wife ; nibdya = my children. 

Iri = name ; tlma — mouth. 

as now spoken in Dominica , West Indies. 


| 1st. 






Liri or Tiri. 

(My name.) 

f (Thy name.) 

(Jtiis or her name.) 

Plural . . . . 




(Our name.) 

(Your name.) 

(Their name.) 




Liuma or Tiuma. 

(My mouth.) 

(Thy mouth.) 

(flis or her mouth.) 


Wauma . . . . 



(Our mouths.) 

(Your mouths.) 

(Their mouths.) 

There is no absolute form of the possessive, corresponding to 
the English “ mine/’ “ thine,” etc. The answer to, Kat'auli kia ? 
Whose dog is this ? is Ldnli kia == It is his dog, the substantive 
duli being required in the reply. 

Other possessive pronouns are met with which are com- 
pounded of the personal pronoun and the affixes luku or 6ku. 





N't uku • • • . 

Biluku .. 

Liluku or Tilukii . 


Wdluku . . 



Nililku duli = my dog ; Biluku duli = thy dog, etc. ; Niekil 
didi = my dog, etc. 

The particle kiia is also found in combination with the 
possessive ; thus, lubuyd-kua = his own house. 




Plural . . 








The words liha and tulia represent the demonstrative “ this 
in the masculine and feminine respectively ; liha wdkuri = this 
boy ; liha sibui = this gommier-tree ; tiiha wuri = this girl ; 
tdha ydmati — this basket. 

Liha is used generally, as in English, without respect to> 
gender, in such phrases as, Itati liha ? = What is this ? Itdlia 
batukdbali liha ? = Why have you done this ? 

“That” is expressed by liketa (masc.) and tiikeia (fem.). 
Amuye signifies “other,” as in the phrases, Hdlia dmuye r {~ 


J. N. Eat . — The Cctrib Language 

Where is the other ? Irufuti liha, ydwati liha dmuye = This one 
is good, the other is bad. 

Liheta is used generally, irrespective of gender, in the same 
way as liha, liha luma liheta = this and that. 


The relative is not expressed. It is understood in such 
sentences as, Likuya atukdyali — It is he who did it; liha midu 
wa biinahai = the person whom we buried (wa = we). 


Kdta is the only form of the interrogative pronoun. 

Kdta bul = Who are you ? 

Kdta mMu ydhi ? = What person is that there ? 

Katuhuya ? = Who is it ? 

Kdte biri ? = What is your name ? 

Kdtae ? = What is it ? 

Kdta dnuku buahubali ? = What disease have you get ? 

Kdta ba ndtuka ? = What am I going to do ? 

It may, however, be replaced by ita in such phrases as — 

Itati ? = What is the matter ? 

Ita bia ? = What is the matter with thee ? 

Itdlia biri ? = What is your name ? 

Itati liha ? = What is this ? 

But ita can also be used as an adverb. 

Itdlia batukdbali liha ? = Why have you done this ? 

Itdlia bidbri ? = When did you arrive ? 

Itaba lasiributa ? = When will he return ? 

Itdbuka lasiributa ? = When did he return ? 


There are only four cardinal numerals in modern Carib, viz., 

Aba = one. 

Biaba = two. 

trua = three. 

Bidbri = four. 

The remaining numbers are expressed by using the words of the 
French patois of the country. 

The ordinals are formed by prefixing l or t, according to the 
gender of the substantive, to the cardinals, and suffixing the 
particle dni. 


as now spoken in Dominica , W est Indies . 

Labdnani or tabdnani — the first. 

Zibidbani or tibidbani = the second. 

Ziruani or tiruani = the third. 

Libiabriani or tibiabriani = the fourth. 
jLbahuati, biabahiati, iruaktiati , biabvikdati , etc. = once, 
twice, thrice, four times, etc. 

One by one, two by two, etc. = dba dba, biaba Maba , etc. 
Libiri = half. 

= How many ? 
ltdkara = a little, some. 

Bui = much or many (literally “ full ”). 

Also wairiti = plenty (literally “ large ”). 

^ = all. 

= not. 

tfati utu = there is no fish. 

Mdtati bdruru = there is no plantain. 

(m when prefixed denotes “ absence of ”). 

The Verbs. 

The verb “ to be ” is id, which is sounded as two syllables, 
the accent being on the first syllable. It is conjugated as 
follows — 





{ 1st. Nia , . ''I 
2nd. Bia ,, l 
3rd. Lia (m.) 
(or Tia) (f.) 

I 1st. Wia .. 

< 2nd. Kia . . | 
[3rd. Nhia . . J 

[~or «( 

(latina .. 

I Idlibu . , 

Iali (m.) or lati 

(f.) .. .. 

Iattwa . . 
latihu . . 

Ianum . . « . 

NiabuJca or Iatinabuka. 
BidbuJca or Iatibnbuka. 
Llabuka (m.) or Ialibuka (m.) 
or TidbuJca (f.) OYlatibuka (f.). 
Wiabuka or latiwdbuka. 
Hidbuka or Iatihvbuka. 

N hidbuka or lanubuka . 





,1st. lahatina .. .. 

2nd. lahatibu . . . . 

3rd. lahali (m.) .. 

Iahaii (f.) .. 

“ 1st. Iahdiiwa .. .. 

IahaUbuka, (m.) 
Iahatibuka (f.) .. 


Idbatna . 
Iabali (m.) 
Iabati (f.) 


2nd. Iahatihu . . . . 

[3rd. Idhanum .. 

Tahatihubuka . . 

lakanubuka . . . . 




J. H. Evr. — The Ccirib Language 

It occurs in such phrases as — 

ha bia ? = How are you ? 

ha Ua liri ? = What is his name ? 

Chevalier lid niri = Chevalier is my name. 

Indruti tid = It is true. 

trua iatiiva = We are three. 

In the present and imperfect the personal pronouns may 
either precede or follow the verb. In the other tenses they 
always follow it. When that is the case, the particle ti is 
interposed between the verb and the terminal pronoun. 

The personal pronoun is suffixed in the following examples — 

Karifuna idtina = I am a Carib. 

Libiikaye idtina = I am his brother. 

Hdlia idtina ? = Where am I ? 

Wukuriali = He is a man. 

Yaruiaru = She is a girl. 

Tidmatu tuha = She is pretty. 

(Tu and ru as well as ti are forms of the third personal 
pronoun of the feminine gender) Ydru = a girl ; and iaru = 
“ she is ” ; tuha = she. 

The past is indicated by the termination buka, which con- 
verts the present and the imperfect into the imperfect and 

The perfect in all verbs expresses a past definite action or 
condition, irrespective of time ; thus — 

Iahdtina = I have been. 

Suluruhdtina = I have come ; but when the period of a 
past condition or action is defined, the past perfect is> 

Binaru yahidhali buka = It was there in olden times. 

Kuyaru suluruhdtina buka = I came yesterday. 

The perfect is formed by incorporating the syllable ha in the 
verb ; thus — 

Idtina = I am. 

Iahdtina = I have been. 

Ba , which is really the verb “ to go,” is used to indicate the 

Iahdtina = I shall be. literally, I am going to be. 

Bdtina = I am going and ia = to be. 

When the personal pronoun follows the verb ia, , the inter- 
posed particle ti is omitted in the third person ; thus we have 
iali (masc.), iati } iatu or iaru (fern.) and idhali (masc.) idhati , 
idhatu or idharu (fern.). 

as 7 ioiv spoken in Dominica , West Indies. 


Tma is pronounced as if the i were omitted, the vowel being 
-so short ; so that idtina and iahdtina sound as if written iatna 
•and idhatna. 

The verb ia is often understood. 

Yahdtina = I am here (yaha = here). 

Irvfutina = I am good. 
ttali ? = What is the matter ? 

Indruti = It is true {inane = true). 

In the expression inaruti tia = it is (really) true, id is 
understood between inane and ti. 

The conditional is thus expressed : — 



Adnuba, . . 
Wakuyawaba . . 
Hakayahuba . . 
Nhakuydnhaba . . 

. . If it be I 
. . If it be thou 
. . If it be he 
. . If it be we 
. . 1 f it be you 
. . If it be they 

Adnuba muka . . . , If it were I. 

Amordbuba muka , , If it were thou. 

Likuydluba muka . . If it were he. 
W akuydioaba muka . . If it rrere we. 
Hakuydhuba muka . . If it were you. 
Nhakuydnhaba muka . . If it were they. 

Likuydluba, ariaJcdbai lieni leMluru = If it be he, tell him 
to come in. 

Amordbuba muka bisikaimuka luni = If it were thou, thou 
wouldst give it to him. 

The past perfect is formed by adding hcv to mieka. 

Adnuba hd7nnka = If it had been I. 

Amordbuba hdmuka = If it had been thou, etc. 

Adnuba hdmuka, nisikahdmuka luni = If it had been I, I 
would have given it to you. 

The equivalent of “ there is ” is ihai , which is equal to iali or 
iati , the final i being short for li or ti, and h x being inserted for 
euphony : — 

Ihai dba bdruru numa = I have one plantain = There is 
one plantain with me. “ There is not ” is expressed 
by ma or ua. 

Mdmati bdruru — There is no plantain. 

tlati utu = There is no fish. 

Tiseti Kairabu ? = Is Roseau far ? 

Matiseti Kairabu = Roseau is not far. 

1 I am rather uncertain about the existenc 0 of this aspirate in the word which 
I hare written ihai. It is possible that it should be written iai , and that the 
idea of an h being present between the initial i and the a is due to the false 
pronunciation of the Carib who dictated the sentence which I hare given as an 

304: J. N. Eat. — The Carib Language 

(ict is understood in those sentences ; and, in the first, met is 

The feminine of the personal pronoun of the third person, 
viz., ti, is used in the above expressions, and in many others as 
frequently and as indefinitely as the word “ it ” is in English ; 
and such phrases as Tiseii Kairula ? are equivalent to those in 
English, like, “ Is it far to Eoseau ? ” 

Ka = to ham . 

The verb “ to have ” is Tea. It always precedes both the 
object and the personal pronoun which is the subject : 

Kabarurutina = I have plantains ( bdruru = plantains). 

Kahdlati = It has something in it. 

KiUweti = It bears flowers (ileme = flowers), literally, it 
has flowers. 

It really consists of an unchangeable particle, ka , which 
indicates possession, and the terminal a of which % is dropped 
before words beginning with vowels. 

The following are illustrations of the use of ha : — 

(Ydmati = Basket, the final i being changed into e.) 

Ka yamaUtina = I have a basket. 

Ka yamaUtibu = Thou hast a basket. 

Ka yamaUtina btika = I used to have a basket. 

Ka yctmatehdtina = I had a basket. 

Ka yamatehdtina btika = I had had a basket. 

Ka yamatebdtina = I shall have a basket. 

Ka ydmati ntiba = If I have a basket. 

Ka ydmati btiba = If thou hast a basket. 

Ka ydmati nitba miika = If I had a basket. 

Ka ydmati biiba mtika = If thou hadst a basket. 

Ka bdruru ntiba , nisihuba hini = If I have plantains, I will 
give you some : ( bdruru == plantains ; siha = to 

Ka bdruru buba } bisihuba luni = If you have plantains, 
you will give him some. 

Ka bdruru ntiba miiha , nisikdmuha dba btini = If I had 
plantains, I would give you one. 

Ka bdruru buba muka, bisikdmuha dba Mini == If you had 
plantains you would give him one. 

Possession is also indicated by expressions which correspond 
in construction with the questions : — 

Atria bitma ? = How many have you ? 

Atri bdruru buma ? = How many plantains have you ? 
(buma means, literally, with you). 


as now spoken in Dominica , West Indies . 

Aba bdruru mlma = I have one plantain (mlma = with 

Aba bdruru buma = Thou hast one plantain (buma == with 

Aba bdruru luma = He has one plantain {luma with 

Absence of is expressed by ma which is used in the same 
way as ka : — 

Mabaruridina = I have no plantains. 

Mabaruridibu = Thou hast no plantains. 

Transitive Verbs. 

Most transitive verbs are conjugated like the verb dtuka = 
to do. 




1st .. 

Natukaya . . . . * . 

Natukaya buka. 

2nd .. 

Batukaya . . . . . . t . 

Batukaya buka. 

3rd | 

Batukaya (masc.) . . . . . . 

Latukaya buka (masc.). 

Tatukaya (fem.) . . . . . . . . 

Tatukaya buka (fem.). 


Watukaya . . . . • • 

Watukaya buka . 

2nd •• 

Hatukaya . . 

Batukaya buka. 

3rd .. 

* Nhatukaya . . . • 

Nhatukaya buka . 




1st .. 

j&Aa* blccikcit%ifhctt 4 • • • •• • • 

Atukahdtina buka . 

2nd .. 


Atukahatibu buka. 

3rd | 
1st .. 

Atukahali (masc.) . . 

Atukahati (fem.) .. .. .. ,. 

Atukahatiwa . . . . . . . . 

Atukahali buka( masc.). 
Atukahati buka (fem.). 
Atukahdtiiva buka. 

2nd .. 

Atukahatibu .. .. .. . . 

Atukahatibu buka. 

3rd .. 


Atukahdtinu biika. 





1st .. 








3rd . . -f 

Latukuba (masc.) 
Tatukuba (fem.). 

3rd .. 



J. N. Eat. — The Garib Language 

The imperative is formed by adding ba to the infinitive : — 

dtuka — to do. 
atdkaba = do. 

atukdbai = do it (i is short for li = it). 
bdiba atdkai = go and do it. 
atukdbai Uha = do this. 
ono.tukdbai Uha = don’t do that. 

The conditional is conjugated as follows : — 




1st .. 

Atukdnuba „ . 

Atukdnuba muka . 

2nd .. 

Atukabuba . . . . . . 

Atukdbuba muka. 

3rd | 
1st .. 

Atukdluba ( masc.) 

Atukdtuba (fem.) . . . . . . 

Atukdwaba . . .. .. .. 

Atukdluba muka (masc.) 
Atukdtuba muka (fem.) 
Atukdwaba muka. 

2nd . . 

Atukdhuba . . 

Atukdhuba muka. 

3rd .. 

Atukdnhaba . . . . . . . . 

Atukdnhaba muka. 

Tikdbuba Mu, bdruba dba ndni = If you catch fish, bring 
me one. 

Nibribuba ydha, nariakubdtibu = When you come here, I 
will tell you. 

Nutainuba muka Kairabu , ndheru rndtka mdbi buni = If 1 
went to Eoseau, I would buy potatoes for you. 

By prefixing ha to mdka the pluperfect is obtained. 

Atukdnuba hdmuka. 

Atukdhuba hdmuka . 

Alukurabubali hdmuka ndtuka hdmuka dba ydmati buni = 
If you had sold it, I would have made a basket for 

The object of an action is expressed by placing In or luni 
before the infinitive. 

Kataba basikai Uha {pula ? = Why are you digging that 
hole ? 

Ltini nabdnaku bdruru == It is for me to plant plantains. 

Luni labdnaku Here = It is for him to plant plantains. 

Nisikuba Uha buni lu bdheru tiihi nitri = I give you this to 
buy meat for me. 

A gerund-like form of the verb is found in such sentences 
as : — 

Barumukaydbuka , batukiibali = Yon were sleeping, while 
you were doing it. 

as now spoken in Dominica, West Indies . 


Narihiibdtibu mamdruku, nasukuritba; i = I will look at you 
to-morrow, when I am passing. 

The termination f dbali, which is that of the gerund, would he 
similar in form to that of the future indicative and the present 
conditional, but for the additional syllable li in the former. 
Another ending of the gerund is iibame nibrindbame, neheridoali 
bi'tni = when I am coming, I will buy it for you. 

The termination of the present indicative, such as it is found 
in nat&kaya, suggests a compound of the infinitive dtuka and ia 
= to be, as an auxiliary, so that the verb might be written 
natukdia. This view is supported by the structure of the present 
indicative of the verb wcitikdmarc = to work, which is 
niivatakimdria, and of that of alcusaku = to sew, which is 
nakusdkuya, which might be written nakusakuia . And in 
favour of this it may be added that I have found it very 
difficult to decide whether the accent in the above verbs 
natukaya and nakusdkuya should be where they are placed or on 
the vow’els which immediately follow the k. When, however, 
we come to verbs ending in i, like idtiri = to go and iabri = to 
come, we find their present indicatives to be niutiria and 
nidbrici. Yet even here it might be said that the i of ia has 
been merged into the terminal i of the verb. 

The particle ha is incorporated with the verb and personal 
pronoun to form the perfect. 

dtuka = to do. 

atukahdtina = I have done. 

This, at least, should be the regular formation of the perfect. 
But, in conversation, the ha is practically dropped and atuka- 
hdtina becomes atukdtina. Similarly vmtikdmarc and idbri 
become watikamarttina and iabritina in the perfect. When 
however, the verb ends in it, there is a recurrence to the ha, as 
in ahtsaku = to sew, the perfect of which is akusakuhdtina. 

Suluruhali w6yu — the sun has risen (literally, has arrived). 

Eheruhdtiwa dba ydmati = we have bought a basket. 

The perfect may also be constructed by adding muti to the 
infinitive, the personal pronoun being joined to the former. 

Sa = to cut. 

Sa mimuti == I have cut. 

Sa bihnuti = Thou hast cut. 

Sa Itimuti = He has cut. 

Sa icdmuti = We have cut. 

Sa humuii = You have cut. 

Sa nhdmuti = They have cut. 

Kurdkua — to tie. 

Kurdkua mimuti, kurdkwi bit muti, etc. 




J. N. Eat. — The Cctrib Language 

The imperfect and the past perfect are formed by adding 
bulca to the present and the perfect. 

In the future, the terminal vowels of verbs ending in a are 
dropped and vha is added to the remaining portion of the 
infinitive ; dttika = to do ; at'dkuba = I shall do. The same 
rule holds good for verbs ending in other vowels ; thus 



Watikamare • . 

• • 

Niwatikamdruba . 

tahri . . . • 

• • 

• • 


Akusaku . . 

• • 

• • 

Nakusakuba . 

The imperative ends in ba ; dtuka becomes ainkaba ; watikd- 
mare, watikamdreba ; idbri , idbriba aktisaku, akusakuba . 

Beflective verbs are formed by adding ktia = self, to the 
infinitive of the active; ardmeta = to hide, arametdkua = to 
hide oneself. 

They are conjugated like the active, the imperfect and past 
perfect being compounded of the present and the perfect 
respectively and btika, and the perfect and future being charac- 
terised by the incorporated ha and the terminal 'iiba respec- 
tively; arametdkua (present), arametakualiatina (perfect), 
arametdkua Mika (imperfect), arametakuahatina Luka (past 
perfect), arametakudnuba (future), arametaMaba (imperative). 

An intensified reflective is formed by adding the reflective 
pronoun to the simple reflective ; thus 

Narametdkua nuni kua, etc., = I am hiding myself, etc. 

The conditional follows the same rule that governs its con- 
struction in the case of active verbs ; and so the present, im- 
perfect, and past perfect of arametdkua are arametdkua ntiba, 
arametdkua ntiba muka and arametdkua nuba hdmuka. 

It may be observed that an n has been introduced in the 
future tense between the terminal a of arametdkua and uba. 
This has apparently been done for the sake of euphony. The 
letter k is similarly introduced in the future of dkaJba = to 
hear, which is written nakabdkuba. 

In the passive, the tenses are constructed by placing the 
personal pronoun after the reflective verb, the particle ti being 
interposed between them as in the conjugation of ia = to be. 
The verb ia = to be, is evidently understood in all the tenses 
of the passive : 

as novj spoken in Dominica , West Indies. 




Arametakuatina ;, aramatekudtibu> etc . *") 

Arametakuatina buka, etc. . . 
Arematakuahatina , etc. . . . « }- 

Arametakuakdiina buka i etc. 
Arametakuabdtina , etc. . . . . J 

T Arametakudnuba , etc. 

< Arametakudnuba milka, etc * 
l Arametakudnuba hdmuka f etc . 

Though there is no difference in construction between transi- 
tive and intransitive verbs, arumuka = to sleep, and asuaha = 
to cut, becoming narumiikaya , etc., and nasudhaya, etc., in the 
indicative present, etc., yet some verbs are conjugated like ia , 
the personal pronoun being suffixed and the particle ti inter- 
posed between it and the verb. The following are examples of 
such verbs : 

atunuhdtina = I am coughing. 

asuehdtina hita = I am spitting blood. 

I have not been able to trace any rule which determines 
such a difference in construction among verbs ; but the verbs 
conjugated like ia , such as the two last-mentioned, are generally, 
though not always, those which denote a condition of mind or 
body rather than an action. This is noticeable in such expres- 
sions as : 

Anukuitina = I am ill. 

Abirudtina = I have fever. 

MakraMtina = I am thirsty. 

Lamdtina = I am hungry. 

HanuhuUiina = I am afraid. 

KaifuUtina = I am afraid. 

Ibisikaetina = I am ashamed. 

Kurdtina = I w’ant. 

Some of these may be considered as adjectives combined with 
personal pronouns, the verb ia being understood, such as — 

MakrabMina from mdlcrabu = thirsty. 

Lamdtina from lama = hungry. 

But many of them govern either an infinitive or a noun 
substantive. Thus we find such phrases as — 

EanulmUtina hdv:c = I am afraid of a tetc de chien (a 

Kanisitina bdruru = I like plantains. 

Kdta kurdtibu ? r= What do you want ? 

Arumuka kurdtina = I want to sleep. 

Marian uka kurdtina = I do not want to sleep. 


J. 1ST. Eat. — The Carib Language 

Even these also are merely compounds of either nouns or 
adjectives with personal pronouns. Just as anukuitina is 
derived from anulmi = disease, and abirudtina from dbiru — 
fever, so hanuhutetina , kanisitina, kurttina, etc., are formed by 
adding na to hantihuti, kanasi , kure , etc., ti being interposed. 

Ghiseti , kanisiti , mdtati, etc., are examples of impersonal verbs 
or rather of composite words used as such. 

CMseti, nuni nasdaha wtwe = I like to cut wood. 

Kanisiti ntini ndtuka ydmati =: I like to make baskets. 

Matdtini watakimare = I like to work. 

The third sentence is probably ungrammatical and should 
have been mdtati ndni niwatakimare. 

In the first three sentences, the infinitive is used as if it were 
a substantive with the personal pronoun ni prefixed, the i 
having been dropped before astiaha and dttika, because they 
begin with a vowel. They should be rendered, if literally 
translated, as it pleases me, or literally, it is my desire or 
pleasure to cut wood, to make baskets, to work. 

The word kanisiti is derived from dnisi — heart and hence 
desire or pleasure. The letter k when prefixed thus is short 
for ka , which denotes entirety or completion as well as posses- 
sion ; so that kanisitina and kanisiti nuni may be considered 
to mean, it is entirely my desire or pleasure, or I have the 
desire or pleasure. 

Verbs of this form of conjugation govern the personal pro- 
nouns in the dative : — 

Chisttibu ndni ? = Dost thou love me ? 

ChisMna buni = I love thee. 

Kdriti ndri ndni =? My tooth pains me. 

Peculiakities of tiie Carib Language. 

The term “ Carib.'’ 

A modern Carib is called by his countrymen, Karifuna. In 
referring to the whole race of Caribs, the word Karinaku is 

Eaymond Breton does not mention Karifuna. He calls a 
Carib Callinago and several Caribs Callinagoyum. The word 
Gallinago is evidently the same as Karinaku , the r of which has 
been incorrectly replaced by ll. 

The name given to themselves by the Caribs of South 
America is Karinia, which is probably derived from Karinaku. 

It is not, however, from these words that the name Carib has 
originated. The leeward coast of Dominica is called Kairabu> 

as now spoken in Dominica , West Indies. 311 

which is also applied to Eoseau, the capital of the island, whose 
other name is Sairi. Raymond Breton wrote it Caerabone. It 
.seems to me that the word Carib owes its origin to the answer 
Kairabu given by the Indians of Dominica to the Europeans 
who first asked them to what country they belonged. Hence 
the peculiar term Cariboo would, in spite of its singular sound, 
be really the most correct of all similar names. 

Language of the women. 

Though the language generally speaking is the same among 
both sexes, there are certain words in it which are used by the 
women only. The following are examples of this peculiarity. 

Used by men. 

Used by women. 


Niinu . . . . . 






Fish-hook. . 

Kuwi . . 


Cassava root 

• • 

Kiere . . 



Wickur i 


Daughf er . . 

Wuri . . 



Bar mu i . . 


Fowl .. 

Alira . . 

Kdyit . 



Bar aw a. 

The most probable of the explanations suggested for the 
-above is the one which supposes that the women who use such 
words are descendants of some who were captured by the 
Oaribs from other Indian tribes. But this theory is not with- 
out its difficulties. All the Carib women use those foreign 
words, and none of the men do so. It is evident, therefore, 
that though those words may have been thus introduced into 
the language, there must have been some custom which, while 
it made their use general among females, limited them to 
women only. It has been suggested that the boys used these 
words until they were of an age to associate wich men, when 
they discarded them as effeminate. 

Another theory might be advanced on the subject, and that 
is that the strange words were introduced by Carib women who 
had been captured by other tribes and were afterwards rescued. 

The probabilities are that, if either theory is correct, both are 
•so. For the capture and rescue of women must have been 
events of very frequent occurrence among the Caribs and the 
tribes with whom they were constantly engaged in war. 

The resemblances between certain of these alien words and 
some in the Arawak language point to that tribe as the most 

312 J. ST. Eat. — The Carib Language 

probable source of many, if not of all the terms peculiar to the 
Carib women. 

For example, the word Jcdti used by Carib women for the 
moon is similarly employed in Arawak. While the Caribs in 
South America have adopted the Macusi word for one, viz., owi> 
the insular Caribs call that numeral dba , which is almost the 
the same as the equivalent Arawak word dbaro. 

Words adopted from the French and Spanish. 

Many words have been adopted by the Caribs from the 
Spanish as well as from the French or the French patois of the 
island, the necessary vowels having been added to the originals 
to make them conform to the usual Carib orthography. 

The following are from the Spanish : — 

Bdeasu (vaca) = cow. 

Cdbara (cobra) = goat. 

Cdbayu (caballo) = horse. 

Cdta (carta) = paper. 

Sdlu (sal) = salt. 

Kusiu (cuchillo) = knife. 

Vinu (vino) = wine, etc. 

From the French or its patois are derived : — 

Tdbula (table) = table. 

P'dlatu (plat) = plate. 

Tdsu (tasse) = cup. 

V6ru (verre) = glass. 

Ctiyeru (cuilUre) = spoon. 

Btiteyu (bouteille) = bottle. 

Sdpote (chapeau) = hat. 

Simisi (chemise) = shirt. 

Rtibu (robe) = dress. 

Bdrihe (bourrique) = donkey. 

Mtitoni (mouton) = sheep, etc. 

It is singular that the Carib word for salt should be sdlii, 
which is evidently derived from the Spanish, sal . It is probable 
that the Spanish word was adopted and used in the place of the 
original Carib term which became forgotten. For it is scarcely 
to be supposed that a people living by the sea would not have a 
word in their vocabulary to express salt. 

as now spoken in Dominica , , West Indies. 


Examples of Modern C-aeib. 



Hdlia licba narimeta Baraisiri lia liri . Kanianitina nicma y 
wdma biabri nibaya , biaba wukicri, biaba ivuria. Niwatakimare 
ndticka ydmati , nasudhaya Uni ivdwe, niidiri atiaha. Niani 
arimttatic aictubu, takusdkuya , tabudhaya aikini , tasibdkuya, 
tahuruhaya Mere , tahuMhaya bdruru , tabuitdhaya batiruku , 
tiwatakimdria tisari. Nibaya sic han avjdita; dbana liluc 
loukicri wairihali , livsatakimdria lonikua . Nukicsuru Karificna 
yarn. Mulatu yari nnJacsiri. Napukasa Warisima. Lduse 
aldaha niani , niidiri Baraisiri. Ydhi nhapukasa sic nibaya. 



The place where I live its name is Baraisiri. I have a wife 
and four children, two boys and two girls. My work is making 
baskets, cutting down trees, fishing. My wife stays at home ; 
she sews, she cooks food, she washes, she grates cassava, she 
pounds plantains, she sweeps the house, she works in the 
garden. All my children are grown up. One of the boys is 
big ; he is working for himself. My mother was a Carib woman. 
My father was a mulatto. I was born at Warisima. After I 
took a wife I went to Baraisiri. All my children were born 



Hiakitina lause* Idice nukicsiri. Lduse Idice nukiisiri narimeta 
tiema nukicsuru. Binaric hdli lduse tdue nukicsuru. Mariitina 
(from French marier) lubardkiiva tdue nukicsuru. Atakatic 
nukicsuru hicit (French huit) tibaya. Hilaha six (French six) ; 
wer&nietic biaba. Tdue nukiesurte, Warisima tva bicnaha. 
Binaric hildluba dba Karificna , nha bundhai lubuydkua. 
Kuliha hilakica dba , bahickuti wa bundhai. Binaric hildluba dba 
midUy nha bundhai makditi ; rdtiu wewe l abuse, rdtiu kia lduse ; 
rdtiu dba piclatu (either French plat or Spanish plato) Uakn 
lisibu ma buisola hiciva lakicruku . Hccugurdkua nha midui 



J. N. Eat. — The Carib Language, etc . 



I was little when my father died. After my father died I 
lived with my mother. It is a long time since my mother died. 
I married before my mother died. My mother had eight 
children. Six died and two remained. When my mother died, 
we buried her at Warisima. In olden times when a Carib died 
we buried him in his own house. Now, where anyone dies we 
bury him outside. In olden times when a person died, they 
buried him without a coffin ; they put a board under him, they 
also put one over him ; they put a plate on his face to prevent 
the earth from getting into his eyes. They wrapped him up in 
his bed-clothes. 



Lubardkkoa iutiri abundkua , wa suahci wavnti wdive laioard- 
hatu. Hdwara nhdluba, iiitiri akutai. Kutawahdluba , iutiri 

aradhai. Lubarakiwa v:a dkutu , abaihdtiwa. Su wa muti 
abdtaha liha kdrau I6ni wa kdtaha. Kibeti Idnuku wdyu 
lubar dkiwa l dkutu wairiti w&ioe. Hikuhaldbali wdtu, bdlisi 
tilihdluba , idtiri awduha loni tea abunaku Mere . Wa stiaha 
Mere akusa, loni wa abdnaku. 



Before we begin planting we cut down the large trees to let 
them get dry. When they are dry we begin to set fire to them. 
After we have burnt them we clear the, ground. Before we 
burn, we cut away the undergrowth. We collect all the under- 
growth together to burn it. The large trees are a long while 
before they burn away. When the fire is extinguished and the 
ashes are cold, we begin digging to plant the cassava. We cut 
up the cassava sticks to plant them. 



Atuka krdeti miitu dba bdti, liuti drabu asualta luu'diccri loni 
dtuku lubana. Sulalidluba asilaha htwdweri , larurdkuni ruld- 
muti tdmase lubana loni lakivjdreha. SulaJidluba, akiwdreha su 
luwdweri, livtiri asdnaha hiivja, l&ni lisikuni luakdburi. Ihilu- 
muti wdkabu ipuldruku buikita lumuti Imhva, ijnddruku Ido 

Special Meeting of June 1 5th, 1897. 


icdkabu . Bdrati wdwe, lahiibiha 1 line a Ido ivdkabn. Lakurdkua 
misipeti iodic e Ido akuruka l dak n libiri wdkabu , kurdkua yatiwa 
rauyati wewe Idaku misipe. Rauyati iceioe, bayardkua Ha Uri. 
Lidtiri dsuka wirikdburi , loni htkuraku Idaku , loni labdtdha 
lubana . Labdtaha wirikdburi lao musiere. 



When a person wants to build a house, he goes into the 
woods to cut the wood to build his house. When lie has 
finished cutting the wood, he drags it and puts it near to his 
bouse to prepare it. When he has finished preparing all the 
wood, he begins to dig the ground and fix the posts. He puts 
the posts in the holes ; he fills the holes with earth round the 
posts. He takes a pole and he rams the earth round the posts. 
He ties long poles with creepers to the tops of the posts ; he 
ties cross-poles on the leng ones. The cross poles are called 
bayardkua. He goes and cuts poles to tie on top to make the 
roof of the house. He covers the poles with leaves {musiere = 
a broad short leaf specially used for that purpose). 

June 15th, 1897. 

A Special Afternoon Meeting 

was held on this date at the South Kensington Museum, when 
Mr. A. P. Maudslay gave a lecture on the “ Maya Monuments 
und Inscriptions in Central America.” 

The Meeting was attended by many of the Fellows, and the 
interest of the lecture v’as increased by the exhibition of a 
-collection of casts from the various monuments spoken of. 

A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Maudslay on the 
proposal of Mr. Clements Markham.