The linguistic makeup of the Americas is more complex than you may think. Today, most people in the Americas speak a European language—generally either English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese—but the continents are dotted with countless indigenous languages that represent dozens of distinct language families. While indigenous languages in the United States and Canada are generally severely endangered, the situation is better in Latin America, where many languages still boast a vigorous, albeit threatened, speaker community. One such group of languages is the Misumalpan languages—Miskito and its sisters—of Nicaragua and Honduras, a lesser-known but important group of indigenous languages.
With around 700,000 speakers, Miskito is magnitudes larger than the most widely spoken indigenous language in the United States, Navajo. Another 8,000–9,000 people speak the closely related Sumo languages, also part of the Misumalpan family. Historically, the Sumo languages likely dominated the region, with Miskito only recently growing to its current prominence. Miskito has become somewhat of a lingua franca for indigenous languages of the region, and a shift to Miskito is threatening the smaller languages. Of course, Miskito itself is also threatened by the ubiquity of Spanish in Nicaragua and Honduras. We at TranslationServices.com wanted to help both Miskito and its sister languages, so we’ve launched a translation service for the Misumalpan languages.
Contact us today to see a free quote for translation services for Miskito and its sister languages!
Come with us on a deep dive into the Miskito languages.
Miskito is primarily spoken along the coastal region of Nicaragua and Honduras, particularly in Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. The Sumo languages, meanwhile, are spoken in more inland pockets in both Latin American countries. With evidence that Miskito, Sumo, and other Misumalpan languages have been spoken in all of modern-day Nicaragua for more than 2,000 years, it’s thought they once dominated the territory, prior to the southward migration of the Oto–Manguean and Nahua peoples. Check out our quick list of Misumalpan languages:
The dominant variant of Sumo is Mayanga, accounting for most speakers across its two dialects, while Ulwa is spoken further south. Miskito, of course, dominates the family. Two more Misumalpan languages—Matagalpa and Cacaopera—have unfortunately gone extinct.
A peculiarity of Miskito is its large proportion of loanwords from English, German, and Dutch, despite Spanish being the lingua franca of Nicaragua and Honduras. Miskito grammar, however, bears no resemblance to Germanic languages. Miskito generally puts the verb at the end of a sentence, with adjectives and postpositions coming after the noun. There are multiple pronouns for “we,” depending on whether the listener is included, and the language features sentence-final mood particles that can add a nuance of surprise or excitement to an utterance. Relative clauses can be externally or internally headed—an example of an internally headed relative clause is Sarah watla atkan ba Bilwi ra sa, literally “The Sarah bought the house is in Bilwi,” meaning “The house Sarah bought is in Bilwi.”
Smooth translation services to and from Miskito and Sumo
As you can tell from the above description, Miskito isn’t a simple language, and translating it isn’t easy. Nonetheless, we’ve found talented translators for both Miskito and Sumo across Nicaragua and Honduras who are eager to work with clients to tackle their Misumalpan languages translation needs. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for because we can handle just about any type of translation project. Here are some examples:
Educational materials. The Miskito-speaking community has rallied together and promoted bilingual Miskito–Spanish schools to help preserve their precious language. Of course, though, Spanish has far more resources than Miskito. Our team will gladly help anyone who wants to translate educational resources into Miskito to guarantee high-quality pedagogical texts for the hungry minds of Miskito children.
Business documents. The North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region is dominated by the Miskito people, with the Miskito language acting as a regional lingua franca. Thus, if your organization wants to establish a presence in the region, translating your materials into Miskito can be a great help. Whether it’s employment contracts and business plans or press releases and ad copy, our translators can help you connect with the Miskito people. Of course, we also extend our services to Miskito- or Sumo-speaking businesses.
Creative texts. Our translators are excited about sharing Miskito stories and culture with the wider world, so they love to translate Miskito literature into English. They’re also passionate about converting great English-language content into Miskito or Sumo—be it novels, poems, websites, apps, or games—which can be a great boon to language revitalization efforts for the languages.
Whether Miskito or Sumo, if you need Misumalpan translation services, don’t hesitate to contact us!