Totozoquean languages

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Linguistic classification: Proposed language family; perhaps related to Huavean
Glottolog: None

Totozoquean (Toto-Zoquean) is a proposed language family of Mesoamerica, originally consisting of two well-established genetic groupings, Totonacan and Mixe–Zoque. The erstwhile isolate Chitimacha was later proposed to be a member. The closest relatives of Totozoquean may be the Huavean languages.[1]


Comparative proto-Totozoquean reconstructions are proposed in Brown et al. (2011) for simple consonants and vowels. The consonant-inventory for proto-Totozoquean is similar to that reconstructed for proto-Totonacan (Arana Osnaya 1953), and the vowels are not unlike those proposed for proto-Mixe–Zoquean (Wichmann 1995). A parallel set of laryngealized but otherwise identical proto-Totozoquean vowels is reconstructed for proto-Totozoquean to account for the distribution of laryngealized vowels in the Totonac branch of the Totonacan family, though these left no known trace in proto-Mixe–Zoquean (Wichmann 1995) and there may be a more economical explanation. Vowel length is likewise an independent parameter reconstructed for proto-Totozoquean that does not seem to affect the correspondences, but in this case it is a feature inherited by both families.


Proto-Totozoquean (pTZ) is reconstructed with seven vowel qualities, all of which occur with long, laryngealized, and long laryngealized homologues. These reduce to a three-vowel system in proto-Totonacan (pT); length and laryngealization is retained. Proto-Mixe–Zoque (pMZ) loses laryngealization and neutralizes **ɨ~ə and **ɔ~o.

pTZ  pT  pMZ
**i *i *i
**e *e
**ə *a
**a *a
**ɔ *o
**o *u
**u *u

Of the three consonants which do not appear in either daughter, **ty and **ny are poorly attested, whereas **ky is robust. Proto-Mixe–Zoque loses the laterals and gutturals, and neutralizes the alveolar–palato-alveolar distinction. Proto-Totonocan loses glottal stop and **y.

pTZ  pT  pMZ
**n *n *n
**ny *l
**l *y
**y *t
**t *t
**š *s
**s *s
pTZ  pT  pMZ
**p *p *p
**m *m *m
**w *w *w
**ky *k *k
**k *q
**ʔ *∅
**h *h
**#h *h
**x *x

See also


Arana Osnaya, E. 1953. Reconstrucción del protototonaco: Huastecos, totonacos y sus vecinos, ed. Ignacio Bernal. Revista Mexicana de Estudios Antropológicos 23:123–30.
Brown, Cecil H., David Beck, Grzegorz Kondrak, James K. Watters, and Søren Wichmann (2011). Totozoquean. International Journal of American Linguistics 77, 323–372.
Brown, Cecil H., David Beck, Grzegorz Kondrak, James K. Watters, and Søren Wichmann (2011) "Linking proto-Totonacan and proto-Mixe–Zoquean"[1]
Søren Wichmann (1995). The Relationship among the Mixe-Zoquean Languages of Mexico. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
  1. Brown, Cecil H., Wichmann, Søren, & Beck, David. 2014. Chitimacha: A Mesoamerican language in the Lower Mississippi Valley. International Journal of American Linguistics 80(4): 425–474.