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Our Translation Services Now Cover the Choco Languages

There’s a lot more to South America linguistically than just Spanish and Portuguese. Yes, of course, there’s the English, Dutch, and French spoken in Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, of course, but these are still imported languages. All across this vast continent live indigenous languages that have survived the arrival of Europeans and are still spoken today, sometimes vigorously by healthy indigenous communities. Indigenous languages in South America tend to be healthier than those spoken in the United States and Canada, and that’s certainly true for the Choco languages, which have relatively high speaker counts for Amerindian languages.

The Choco languages, spoken collectively by around 110,000 people in Panama and Colombia, are divided into only two languages: Emberá and Wounaan. They form an independent language family, unrelated to any other in the world, making the two languages unique and all the more precious. Since speakers of Choco languages tend to live in relatively isolated traditional settlements, Emberá and Wounaan are relatively vigorous, with no immediate danger of erosion. Of course, though, both are nonetheless threatened by Spanish, the lingua franca in both Panama and Colombia. At, we thought we’d give the Choco languages the dignity they deserve by offering dedicated Choco languages translation services.

Why not ask us about a free quote for our translation services for Emberá and Wounaan?

Discovering the Choco languages, Emberá and Wounaan

Although the Choco language family today consists just of Emberá and Wounaan, it was historically bigger, with Anserma, Arma, Sinúfana, and Caramanta already lost to the world. Wounaan, also known as Noanamá or Woun Meu, is spoken on the border between Panama and Colombia, while Emberá, alternatively called Chocó, is spoken in a wider area in Colombia and Panama. The language is fundamentally divided into Northern Emberá and Southern Emberá, which are further broken down into dialects (sometimes considered separate languages). Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Choco languages

    • Wounaan

    • Emberá

      • Northern Emberá

        • Catío

        • Northern Emberá

      • Southern Emberá

        • Chamí

        • Baudó

        • Eperara

By far the biggest Choco language is Northern Emberá, with around 72,000 speakers. Catío boasts around 15,000, followed by Wounaan at 10,000. Unfortunately, the Southern Emberá languages are less spoken, each used by only a few thousand speakers.

Grammatically, the Choco languages are complicated. They generally use a subject-object-verb word order, with postpositions and adjectives coming after the respective nouns. Northern Emberá and Catío distinguish the immediate past and future from unspecified past and future tenses, affording the languages increased temporal nuance. Reduplication also plays an important role in the Choco languages, adding an iterative or durative nuance to verbs and weakening the intensity of adjectives.

Let our Choco translators assist you in your translation project.

We’re proud to say that not only do we have a dedicated Choco languages translation team, but we also offer our Choco translation services both to and from the languages for any number of translation needs. That’s right—all you need to do is specify the language, direction, document type, and turnaround, and we’ll find the best translator on our team for you. Not sure what kind of documents we work with? Here’s a short, non-exhaustive list:

  • Pedagogical texts. Want to help boost Choco literacy among native speakers and offer Choco children a solid education? You can do that with educational materials translated into Choco languages. Regardless of the subject or target age, we’d be happy to help.

  • Traditional folklore. With their unique languages and way of life, the Choco people have a lot of knowledge to offer the rest of the world. If you’d like to take traditional Choco stories, myths, and folklore and translate them into English to share with the rest of the world, we can help. This will help spread the beautiful Emberá and Wounaan cultures.

  • Literary and digital content. In the opposite direction, our team can also translate books, poems, apps, websites, and more from English into Choco languages. With literary and digital content limited in the Choco languages, this is a good way to offer the people more creative content in their mother tongues and can help boost the literacy rates of Choco languages.

If you need Choco languages translation services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today and let us know what you’re looking for!


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