Carib Words
in English

Some of our most basic and popular words came from the Caribs.

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Most people don't realize the degree to which the Carib heritage has been incorporated into the modern world.

Take some of the most common English words.The following are all derived from the Carib language: “hammock” (a Carib invention), “canoe,” “tobacco,” “potato,” “hurricane” and “barbecue.”

Yes, barbecuing--the smoking of meat over fire--was another Carib innovation. And of course there's that term Caribbean.

Ironically, over the centuries the Caribs have seen their own language disappear. In 1853 a priest noted that the Caribs spoke just a few words of their language.

English and the local Creole were becoming the new tongues. It's believed that the last fluent speakers of Carib died almost a century ago.

For Chief Joseph, restoring the Carib language will be difficult if not impossible. He says that although the meanings of a few Carib phrases are still remembered, “the island Carib language has been lost. We will have to find a language to adopt.”

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The Carib Indians of Dominica Part 1