Yukpa is a Cariban language spoken in northwest Venezuela and northeast Colombia by about 6,000 people. In Venezuela it is spoke by about 3,020 people in the Cesar region of Zulia state along the Colombia border between the Palmar and Tucuco rivers. In Colombia it is spoken by about 3,000 people in the Cesar department along the border with Venezuela.

Yukpa is also known as Carib Motilón, Japrería, Macoíta, Northern Motilone, Northern Motilón, Yuco, Yucpa, Yuko, Yukpa-Japería or Yupa. Dialects include Río Casacará (Iroka), Río Maracas, Yukpa Sur, Coyaima, Atapshi (Yukpa Norte), Pariri (Yukpa Central), Wasama, Yikta and Macoíta.

In Colombia Yukpa is taught in primary schools and used in literature. In Yukpa-speaking areas it is spoken all the time, elsewhere it is only spoken when no outsiders are around.

In Venezuela Yukpa is official recogized as an indigenous language, and most adults speak only Yukpa. Younger Yukpa people also speak Spanish, and Yukpa is used as a second language by the Japreria people.

Since the 1960s various ways have been devised to write Yukpa with the Latin alphabet. Northern dialects were first written, then orthographies were developed for other dialects. The alphabet shown below can be used to write all dialects of Yukpa spoken in Colombia. Not all sounds occur in every dialect

Yukpa alphabet and pronunciation

Yukpa alphabet and pronunciation


Download an alphabet chart for Yukpa (Excel)

Sample video in Yukpa


Information in and about Yukpa

Cariban languages

Akawaio, Akurio, Bakairi, Carib, Carijona, Hixkaryána, Ikpeng, Japreria, Macushi, Panare, Pemon, Tiriyó, Wayana, Ye’kuana, Yukpa

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 23.04.21


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