Questions of Accent: How to Say “Grandfather” in Taino

Are there accents in Taino? Are there different ways to say the same thing? When two people say different things for the same word, can they both be correct?

Ask anyone who speaks Taino, “What is the word for ‘grandfather’?” 

The likely reply will be, “Arokoel”, or some variant. (Eg. Warakoel, Nadokoel, Adokol, etc.). Almost everyone knows it to be true. This is on the basis of the word “Aroko” (some people say it means “to remember”), and “L”, which is usually used in place of the “Li”, which is more common in Loko and K/Garifuna, but still is present in Taino.

However, Brasseur de Bourbourg in his Glosario de voces indigenas, a glossary of the language of Haiti, (L’ancienne Langue De Haiti), writes that the Taino word for grandfather was “Arguti”. Once again, the base word “Aroko”, and the suffix “Ti” is added. Interestingly, this is closer to the K/Garifuna word for grandfather, “Aruguti”. This is even more interesting considering the fact that the K/Garifuna had never inhabited farther north than the Virgin Islands.On the other hand, it makes perfect sense given that the Eyeri never completely died on the Islands conquered by the Kalinago. In 1667, Father Du Terre writes that the natives and old French of Guadalupe told rumors that the original owners of the Island still inhabited the mountains; “Ingeris que eran los restos de los primeros inhabitantes,  a quienes los Galibis habian masacrado …”.

Therefore, what we see is two versions of the same word in the same language– Taino (I.e. Arokol and Aruguti). The point is, talk, write, and publish. Whatever you do–use the language! But, get some rules down so that you can be authentic throughout.



One thought on “Questions of Accent: How to Say “Grandfather” in Taino

  1. * Some would state that the two words are not true synonyms because many translate “Arguti” as “ancestor”. However, the fact remains that it means grandfather in K/Garifuna, and it is clear that this is loan word from Taino. Thus, evidence demonstrates that at least some Taino used “Arguti” as “grandfather”, and both meanings seem to be sound.

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