Quick—what language do they speak in Costa Rica? You surely answered Spanish—even the name of the country is clearly Spanish. Yes, Spanish is the predominant language in Costa Rica, with the vast majority of the population speaking it as their first language. But “vast majority” certainly doesn’t mean “all.” There are still various indigenous groups who have retained their cultures and languages, with some with thousands of speakers. Today, we’re looking at Bribri, one of Costa Rica’s indigenous languages.
Bribri is estimated to have around 7,000 native speakers, comprising a bit more than half of the ethnic Bribri population. Unfortunately, the pressures of Spanish have put Bribri in a precarious situation, with the number of speakers continuously declining over the years—but at the same time, Bribri is the only indigenous language in Costa Rica that’s taught at public universities. While this is a powerful way to support the language, translation services are still scarce—so we at TranslationServices.com decided to put together our own Bribri translation team.
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Bribri: discovering an indigenous language of Costa Rica
The Bribri people live in the Talamanca region of eastern Costa Rica, with small numbers also found in northern Panama. Bribri is spoken in three different regions across this area, which divides the language into three main dialects: Coroma, spoken in western Talamanca; Amubre, spoken in eastern Talamanca; and Salitre, spoken in the South Pacific area. Bribri’s closest relative is Cabécar, another indigenous language of Costa Rica, but the two languages are mutually unintelligible.
Bribri is a member of the Chibchan language family, which stretches throughout Costa Rica and Panama into northern Colombia and Venezuela. The biggest member of the family is Ngäbere (Guaymí), spoken in Costa Rica and Panama, but Bribri remains one of the larger members of the group. It’s a tonal language with a default subject-object-verb word order, which is common in the Chibchan family. Adjectives, demonstratives, and numerals all come after the noun, with the language also using postpositions rather than prepositions. Bribri does not contain case or gender for its nouns, nor does it mark the person on verbs, but it does distinguish between inclusive and exclusive “we,” meaning there are multiple words for “we” depending on whether the listener is included. Our native-speaking Bribri team members can help you navigate the challenges of Bribri translation with ease.
Flexible Bribri translation services from our diverse team
We’re here to serve a diverse range of clients who may be looking for Bribri translation services, no matter where they’re from or what their project is. That’s why it’s important for our team to represent all the diversity of the Bribri-speaking world, to the degree possible. We’ve hired top translators from the three key locales where Bribri is spoken, recruiting experts for each of the main dialects. Our translators are skilled in translation both to and from Bribri, helping clients from across Costa Rica and the rest of the world access high-quality translation services.
Are you in need of specialized Bribri translation services, such as academic translation, business translation, or literary translation? Our academic translation team is proud to support Bribri’s use in the scholarly sphere, translating everything from academic papers, to research surveys, to learning materials to teach the Bribri language to learners. We also have a business translation team to tackle the needs of companies and organizations looking to connect with Bribri speakers and establish meaningful rapport with the community. And then there are our literary translators, here to help share the joy of Bribri tales worldwide—and to bring foreign works, such as books, poems, stories, games, and apps, to the Bribri language.
Whatever your Bribri translation project is, let us help. Contact us today to place your first Bribri translation order!