Guanche language

Guanche language

Infobox Language
states=Formerly, Canary Islands
region=Limited to the islands
extinct=? Possibly around the 18th century

Guanche is an extinct language, which used to be spoken by the Guanches of the Canary Islands until the 16th or 17th century. It is only known today through a few sentences and individual words recorded by early travellers, supplemented by several placenames, as well as some words assimilated into the Canary Islanders' dialects of Spanish. Relationships with other languages have therefore been difficult to determine with certainty; however, most linguists consider Guanche to be related to the Berber languages. [Andrew Dalby, "Dictionary of Languages", 1998, p. 88 "Guanche, indigenous language of the Canary Islands, is generallythought to have been a Berber language."] [Bynon J., "The contribution of linguistics to history in the field of Berber studies." In: Dalby D, (editor) "Language and history in Africa" New York: Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970, p 64-77.]

The name "Guanche" originally meant "man from Tenerife"Fact|date=February 2007, and only later did it come to refer to all native inhabitants of the Canary Islands. Although different dialects were spoken across the archipelago, they are all thought to be varieties of the same language.

Archaeological finds on the Canaries include both Libyco-Berber and Punic inscriptions in rock carvings, although early accounts stated the Guanches themselves did not possess a system of writing.

The first reliable account of Guanche language was provided by Genovese explorer Nicoloso da Recco in 1341, with a translation of the numbers from 1-16 used by the inhabitants of one island, possibly Fuerteventura. Recco's account reveals a base-10 counting system with strong similarities to Berber numbers.

Silbo, originally a whistled form of Guanche speech used for communicating over long distances, was used on La Gomera, El Hierro, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria.As the Guanche language became extinct, a Spanish version of Silbo was adopted by some inhabitants of the Canary Islands.

External links

* [ Ethnologue Report for Guanche]
* [ José Barrios: Sistemas de numeración y calendarios de las poblaciones bereberes de Gran Canaria y Tenerife en los siglos XIV-XV] (PhD Dissertation, 1997)


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