This is a bilingual dictionary of the Central Tunebo language of Colombia, South America. The language is more recently called Uw cuwa, while the people group is called Uwa which is sometimes spelled U’wa. Alternate names used by others: Cobaría Tunebo, Lache, and Uwa-Tunebo. Tunebo is an Amerindian language of the Chibchan family. Its complete classification is Chibchan, Chibchan B, Eastern Chibchan, Colombian, Southern Colombian, Cundicocuyes. The Ethnologue code for Tunebo is tuf.
Tunebo is spoken by approximately 1800 people who inhabit a wooded region on the eastern side of the Andes in the departments of Boyacá, Norte de Santander and Arauca in the Republic of Colombia.
Jijón y Caamaño (1941-43), Rivet (1943) and Mason (1950: 175-79) classify Uw cuwa (Tunebo) as a properly Chibchan language (Wheeler, 1972: 93). Castellvi and Pérez place it as part of the Chibcha Linguistic Family, specifically in the Central Chibcha (1958: 110-111).
Adolfo Constenla Umaña notes the relationship between the Uw cuwa (Tunebo) and the music that was identified as belonging to the Chibchan Linguistic Family by Max Uhle in 1888.
The similarities between some languages of the Chibchan family spoken in contiguous territories began to be noticed from the colonial time. Cassani (1741, p.48), for example, considered that the Tunebo was a dialect of the Muisca.
The existence of the Chibchan linguistic family was established by Max Uhle in his paper Verwandtschaften und Wanderungen der Tschibtscha, presented to the seventh International Congress of Americanists (1888). In it Uhle demonstrated the kinship relationship between the Muisca, the Arawak languages (Cagaba, Guamaca, Bintucua), the so-called Talamancan languages (Bribri, Cabécar, Térraba and Boruca) and the Guaimí languages (Move, Murire, Muoy) (1983: 16).
The Uwa are descendants of the Chibchas who inhabited the high plateaus of the eastern cordillera of the Andes in the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá until their conquest by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century (Evans 1973). The arrival of the Spanish caused a change in the Chibcha culture and over time this group lost their mother tongue too. According to Rochereau the Uwa (Tunebos) belong to the race of Lagoa-Santa (Hipsostenocéfalos of Brazil) of Melanésico origin, and in their migrations towards the northwest, they were mixed with the Braquicéfalos of the Orinoco. (1946: 2).
The Uwa are gatherers and farmers; they grow corn, plantain, yucca, beans (Col.), yam, pumpkin, chili and sweet potato. They also collect a wide variety of herbs, roots and nuts. They raise chickens and pigs and trap with traps a variety of animals, mainly small rodents.
Each family has two or three houses located at different levels on the mountainside, where they will live according to the time of sowing or harvest.
There are two main ceremonial seasons. The first is from May to August with many restrictions associated with the harvest. The second, from August to November, is more festive with eight dances of two nights each; these last from twilight until dawn. From 1964 to 1982 (the years in which the researcher and her husband lived in Cobaría), the leaders of these ceremonies were the two main heads of the village.
The dictionary contains 2224 Tunebo words with their grammatical category, Spanish gloss, and descriptive comments. It is an ergative language marked by case. The primary word order is SOV. Most verbs, adjectives, and prepositions have illustrative sentences in Tunebo with a free translation into Spanish. These sentences reflect the culture and were obtained mostly in the social context of mother tongue speakers of Tunebo during the seventeen years that the compiler lived among them. Some illustrative sentences are “folk definitions” of the word. Cross references to other words in the same semantic domain as well as synonyms and antonyms are listed. These is also a Spanish index with the Tunebo gloss.