|Native to||Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, Leeward Islands|
|Ethnicity||Taíno, Ciboney, Lucayan, Yamaye|
Taíno dialects, among other Pre-Columbian languages of the Antilles
Taíno is an extinct Arawakan language that was spoken by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. At the time of Spanish contact, it was the principal language throughout the Caribbean. Classic Taíno (Taíno proper) was the native language of the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and most of Hispaniola, and it was expanding into Cuba. The Ciboney dialect is essentially unattested, but colonial sources suggest it was very similar to Classic Taíno and was spoken in the westernmost areas of Hispaniola, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and most of Cuba.
By the late 15th century, Taíno had displaced earlier languages except in western Cuba and pockets in Hispaniola. As the Taíno culture declined during Spanish colonization, the language was replaced by Spanish and other European languages. It is believed to have been extinct within 100 years of contact but possibly continued to be spoken in isolated pockets in the Caribbean until the late 19th century. As the first indigenous language encountered by Europeans in the New World, it was a major source of new words borrowed into European languages.
Granberry & Vescelius (2004) distinguish two dialects, one on Hispaniola and further east, and the other on Hispaniola and further west.
Columbus says that from Bahama to Cuba, Boriquen to Jamaica, the same language was spoken in various slight dialects, but understood by all.
There was also a flap , which appears to have been an allophone of /d/.
A distinction between /?/ and /e/ is suggested by Spanish transcriptions of e vs ei/ey, as in ceiba "ceiba". The /e/ is written ei or final é in modern reconstructions. There was also a high back vowel [u], which was often interchangeable with /o/ and may have been an allophone.
There was a parallel set of nasal vowels. The only consonant at the end of a syllable or of a word was /s/.
Taíno is not well attested. However, from what can be gathered, nouns appear to have had noun-class suffixes, as in other Arawakan languages. Attested Taíno possessive prefixes are da- 'my', wa- 'our', li- 'his' (sometimes with a different vowel), and to-, tu- 'her'.
Verb-designating affixes are a-, ka-, -a, -ka, -nV in which "V" is an unknown or changeable vowel. This suggests that, like many other Arawakan languages, verbal conjugation for a subject resembled the possessive prefixes on nouns.
The negation prefix is ma- meanwhile the attributive prefix is ka- as in makabuka "it is not important" or "not important". This has been compared to Kalinago's -bouca suffix which designates the past tense. Hence, the sentence can be interpreted as meaning "without a past." However, makabuka could also be compared to Kalinago's aboúcacha 'to scare'. This verb is shared in various Caribbean Arawakan languages such as Lokono (bokaüya 'to scare, frighten') and Parauhano (apüüta 'to scare').
Some conjugated verbs include Daka (I am), Waiba (We go), Warike (We see)
Attested object suffix includes -wo (we, us) as in ahiyawoka ("speak to us").
English words derived from Taíno include: canoe, cassava, maroon, cay, caiman, guava, hutia, hammock, hurricane, iguana, macana, maize, manatee, and potato, as well as mangrove, tobacco, and savanna.:229
Taíno loanwords in Spanish include: agutí, ají, auyama, cacique, caoba, guanabana, guaraguao, jaiba, loro, maní, maguey, nigua, tiburón, and tuna (the prickly pear cactus, not the fish), as well as the previous English words in their Spanish form: caimán, canoa, casabe (although in Dominican Spanish it is the name of a fish),cayo, cimarrón, guayaba, hamaca, iguana, juracán, jutía, macana,maíz, manatí, patata, manglar, tabaco and sabana.
Place names of Taíno origin include: