Uto-Aztecan languages

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Uto-Aztecan
Geographic
distribution:
Western United States, Mexico
Linguistic classification: One of the world's primary language families
Proto-language: Proto-Uto-Aztecan
Subdivisions:
ISO 639-5: azc
Glottolog: utoa1244[1]
{{{mapalt}}}
Pre-contact distribution of Northern Uto-Aztecan languages (note: this map does not show the total distribution in Mexico).

Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan /ˈjuːt.æzˈtɛkən/ is a Native American language family consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found almost entirely in the Western United States and Mexico. The name of the language family was created to show that it includes both the Ute language of Utah and the Aztecan languages of Mexico.

The Uto-Aztecan language family is among the largest linguistic family in the Americas in terms of speakers, in geographic extension and in the number of languages.[2] The northernmost Uto-Aztecan language is Shoshoni, spoken as far north as Salmon, Idaho, while the southernmost is the Pipil language of El Salvador. Ethnologue gives the total number of languages in the family as 61, and the total number of speakers as 1,900,412.[3] The million-and-a-half speakers of Nahuatl languages account for almost four-fifths (78.9%) of these.

The internal classification of the family often divides the family into two branches: a northern branch including all the languages of the US and a Southern branch including all the languages of Mexico, although it is still being discussed whether this is best understood as a genetic classification or as a geographical one. Below this level of classification the main branches are well accepted: Numic (including languages such as Comanche and Shoshoni) and the Californian languages (formerly known as the Takic group) including Cahuilla and Luiseño, account for most of the Northern languages except for Hopi and Tübatulabal. The Southern languages are divided into the Tepiman (including O'odham and Tepehuán), the Tarahumaran languages including Raramuri and Guarijio language, the Cahitan languages (Yaqui and Mayo language), Corachol (including Cora and Huichol) and Nahuan languages. The homeland of the Uto-Aztecan languages is generally considered to have been in the American South-West or possibly North-Western Mexico – although there is some discussion about the possibility that the language family originated in southern Mexico, within the Mesoamerican language area.

Proto-language and Uto-Aztecan homeland

The Proto-Uto-Aztecan language is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Uto-Aztecan languages. Authorities on the history of the language group have usually placed the Proto-Uto-Aztecan homeland in the border region between the United States and Mexico, namely the upland regions of Arizona and New Mexico and the adjacent areas of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuaua, roughly corresponding to the Sonoran Desert and the western part of the Chihuahuan Desert. The proto-language would have been spoken by Mesolithic foragers in Aridoamerica, about 5,000 years ago.

The homeland of the Numic languages has been placed in Southern California near Death Valley, and the homeland of the proposed Southern Uto-Aztecan group has been placed on the coast of Sonora.[4]

A contrary proposal, that suggests the homeland of Proto-Uto-Aztecan to have been much further to the south, was published in 2001 by Jane H. Hill, based on her reconstruction of maize-related vocabulary in Proto-Uto-Aztecan. By her theory, the assumed speakers of Proto-Uto-Aztecan were maize cultivators in Mesoamerica, who gradually moved north, bringing maize cultivation with them, during the period of roughly 4,500 to 3,000 years ago. The geographic diffusion of speakers corresponded to the breakup of linguistic unity.[5][6]

This hypothesis has been criticized on several grounds, and it is not generally accepted by Uto-Aztecanists.[7][8][9][10][11] A survey of agriculture-related vocabulary by Merrill (2012) found that the agricultural vocabulary can only be reconstructed for Southern Uto-Aztecan. This supports a conclusion that the Proto-Uto-Aztecan speech community did not practice agriculture, but only adopted it after entering Mesoamerica from the North.[12]

Geographic distribution

Northern-UA-languages.png

Uto-Aztecan languages are spoken in the North American mountain ranges and adjacent lowlands of the western United States (in the states of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, California, Nevada, Arizona) and of Mexico (states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Durango, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Michoacán, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Puebla, Veracruz, Morelos, Estado de México, and the Federal District). Classical Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, and its modern relatives are part of the Uto-Aztecan family. The Pipil language, an offshoot of Nahuatl, spread to Central America by a wave of migration from Mexico, and formerly had many speakers there. Now it has gone extinct in Guatemala and Honduras, and it is nearly extinct in western El Salvador, all areas dominated by use of Spanish.

Present-day locations of living Uto-Aztecan languages in Mexico and Mesoamerica

UtoAztecanlanguages.png

Classification of Uto-Aztecan languages

History of classification

Uto-Aztecan has been accepted by linguists as a language family since the early 1900s, and six subgroups are accepted as valid by all experts: Numic, Takic, Pimic, Taracahitic, Corachol, and Aztecan. This leaves two ungrouped languages—Tübatulabal and Hopi (sometimes termed "isolates within the family"). As to higher-level groupings, disagreement has persisted since the 19th century. Presently scholars also disagree as to where to draw language boundaries within dialect continua.

The similarities among the Uto-Aztecan languages were noted as early as 1859 by J.C.E. Buschmann, but he failed to recognize the genetic affiliation between the Aztecan branch and the rest. He ascribed the similarities between the two groups to diffusion. Brinton added the Aztecan languages to the family in 1891 and coined the term Uto-Aztecan. John Wesley Powell, however, rejected the claim in his own classification of North American indigenous languages (also published in 1891). Powell recognized two language families: "Shoshonean" (encompassing Takic, Numic, Hopi, and Tübatulabal) and "Sonoran" (encompassing Pimic, Taracahitan, and Corachol). In the early 1900s Alfred L. Kroeber filled in the picture of the Shoshonean group,[13] while Edward Sapir proved the unity among Aztecan, "Sonoran", and "Shoshonean".[14][15][16] Sapir's applications of the comparative method to unwritten Native American languages are regarded as groundbreaking.[citation needed] Voegelin, Voegelin & Hale (1962) argued for a three way division of Shoshonean, Sonoran and Aztecan, following Powell.[17]

As of about 2011, there is still debate about whether to accept the proposed basic split between "Northern Uto-Aztecan" and "Southern Uto-Aztecan" languages.[2] Northern-Utoaztecan corresponds to Powell's "Shoshonean", while the latter is all the rest, i.e., Powell's "Sonoran" plus Aztecan. Northern Uto-Aztecan was proposed as a genetic grouping by Jeffrey Heath (1978) based on morphological evidence, and Manaster Ramer (1992) adduced phonological evidence in the form of a sound law. Kaufman (1981) accepted the basic division into Northern and Southern branches as valid. Other scholars have rejected the genealogical unity of either both nodes or the Northern node alone.[18][19][20][21] Miller's argument was statistical, arguing that Northern Uto-Aztecan languages displayed too few cognates to be considered a unit. On the other hands he found the number of cognates among Southern Uto-Aztecan languages to suggest a genetic relation.[20] This position was supported by subsequent lexicostatistic analyses by Cortina-Borja & Valiñas-Coalla (1989) and Cortina-Borja, Stuart-Smith & Valiñas-Coalla (2002). Reviewing the debate, Haugen (2008) considers the evidence in favor of the genetic unity of Northern Uto-Aztecan to be convincing, but remains agnostic on the validity of Southern Uto-Aztecan as a genetic grouping. Hill (2011) also considered the North/South split to be valid based on phonological evidence, confirming both groupings. Merrill (2013) adduced further evidence for the unity of Southern Uto-Aztecan as a valid grouping.

Hill (2011) also rejected the validity of the Takic grouping decomposing it into an Californian areal grouping together with Tubatulabal.

Some classifications have posited a genetic relation between Corachol and Nahuan (e.g. Merrill (2013)). Kaufman recognizes similarities between Corachol and Aztecan, but explains them by diffusion instead of genetic evolution.[22] Most scholars view the breakup of Proto-Uto-Aztecan as a case of the gradual disintegration of a dialect continuum.[23]

Present scheme

Below is a representation of the internal classification of the language family based on Shaul (2014). The classification reflects the decision to split up the previous Taracahitic and Takic groups, that are no-longer considered to be valid genetic units. Whether the division between Northern and Southern languages is best understood as geographical or phylogenetic is under discussion. The table contains demographic information about number of speakers and their locations based on data from The Ethnologue. The table also contains links to a selected bibliography of grammars, dictionaries on many of the individual languages.( = extinct)

Genealogical classification of Uto-Aztecan languages
Family Groups Languages Where spoken and approximate number of speakers Works
Uto-Aztecan languages Northern Uto-Aztecan
(possibly an areal grouping)
Numic Western Numic Paviotso, Bannock, Northern Paiute 700 speakers in California, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada Nichols (1973)
Mono About 40 speakers in California Lamb (1958)
Central Numic
Shoshoni, Goshiute 1000 fluent speakers and 1000 learners in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho McLaughlin (2012)
Comanche 100 speakers in Oklahoma Robinson & Armagost (1990)
Timbisha, Panamint 20 speakers in California and Nevada Dayley (1989)
Southern Numic Colorado River dialect chain: Ute, Southern Paiute, Chemehuevi 920 speakers of all dialects, in Colorado, Nevada, California, Utah, Arizona Givón (2011), Press (1979), Sapir (1992)
Kawaiisu 5 speakers in California Zigmond, Booth & Munro (1991)
Californian language area Serran Serrano, Kitanemuk (†) No native speakers currently, but learners of Serrano in Southern California Hill (1967)
Cupan Cahuilla, Cupeño 35 speakers of Cahuilla, no native speakers of Cupeño Seiler (1977), Hill (2005)
Luiseño-Juaneño 5 speakers in Southern California Kroeber & Grace (1960)
Tongva (Gabrielino-Fernandeño) (†) (extinct since ca. 1900) Sta. Catalina Island, Los Angeles, Southern California, ongoing revival efforts Munro & et al (2008)
Hopi Hopi 6,800 speakers in northeastern Arizona Hopi Dictionary Project (1998), Jeanne (1978)
Tübatulabal Tübatulabal 5 speakers in Kern County, California Voegelin (1935), Voegelin (1958)
Southern Uto-Aztecan
(possibly an areal grouping)
Tepiman
Pimic O'odham (Pima-Papago) 14,000 speakers in southern Arizona, US and northern Sonora, Mexico Zepeda (1983)
Pima Bajo (O'ob No'ok) 650 speakers in Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico Estrada-Fernández (1998)
Tepehuan Northern Tepehuan 6,200 speakers in Chihuahua, Mexico Bascom (1982)
Southern Tepehuan 10,600 speakers in Southeastern Durango Willett (1991)
Tepecano (†) Extinct since 1972, spoken in Northern Jalisco Mason (1916)
Tarahumaran Tarahumara (several varieties) 45,500 speakers of all varieties, all spoken in Chihuahua Caballero (2008)
Upriver Guarijio, Downriver Guarijio 2,840 speakers in Chihuahua and Sonora Miller (1996)
Tubar (†) Spoken in Sinaloa and Sonora Lionnet (1978)
Cahita Yaqui 11,800 in Sonora and Arizona Dedrick & Casad (1999)
Mayo 33,000 in Sinaloa and Sonora Freeze (1989)
Opatan Opata (†) Extinct since approx. 1930. Spoken in Sonora. Shaul (2001)
Eudeve (†) Spoken in Sonora, but extinct since 1940 Lionnet (1986)
Corachol Cora 13,600 speakers in northern Nayarit Casad (1984)
Huichol 17,800 speakers in Nayarit and Jalisco Iturrioz Leza et al. (2001)
Aztecan Pochutec (†) extinct since 1970s, spoken on the coast of Oaxaca Boas (1917)
Core Nahuan Pipil 20-40 speakers in El Salvador Campbell (1985)
Nahuatl 1,500,000 speakers in Central Mexico Launey (1986), Langacker (1979)

In addition to the above languages for which linguistic evidence exists, it is suspected that among dozens of now extinct, undocumented or poorly known languages of northern Mexico, many were Uto-Aztecan.[24]

Extinct languages

A large number of languages known only from brief mentions are thought to have been Uto-Aztecan languages, that went extinct before being documented.[25]

The proto–Uto-Aztecan language

Vowels

Proto-Uto-Aztecan is reconstructed as having an unusual vowel inventory: *i *a *u *o *ɨ. Langacker (1970) demonstrated that the fifth vowel should be reconstructed as as opposed to *e—there had been a long-running dispute over the proper reconstruction.[26][27][28]

Consonants

Bilabial Coronal Palatal Velar Labialized
velar
Glottal
Stop *p *t *k *kʷ
Affricate *ts
Fricative *s *h
Nasal *m *n
Rhotic *r
Semivowel *j *w

*n and may have actually been *l and *n, respectively.

Notes

  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Uto-Aztecan". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Caballero 2011.
  3. Ethnologue (2014). "Summary by language family". SIL International. Retrieved July 2, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Campbell 1997, p. 137.
  5. Hill 2001, [1].
  6. Hill 2010, [2].
  7. Kemp et al. 2010, [3].
  8. Merrill et al. 2010, [4].
  9. Brown 2010, [5].
  10. Campbell 2003.
  11. Campbell & Poser 2008, p. 346-350.
  12. Merrill 2012.
  13. Kroeber 1907.
  14. Sapir 1913.
  15. Kroeber 1934.
  16. Whorf 1935.
  17. Steele 1979.
  18. Goddard 1996, p. 7.
  19. Miller 1983, p. 118.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Miller 1984.
  21. Mithun 1999, p. 539-540.
  22. Kaufman 2001, [6].
  23. Mithun 1999.
  24. Campbell 1997.
  25. Campbell 1997, pp. 133-135.
  26. Langacker 1970, [7].
  27. Dakin 1996, [8].
  28. Campbell 1997, p. 136.

Bibliography

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Steele, Susan (1979). "Uto-Aztecan: An assessment for historical and comparative linguistics". In Campbell, Lyle; Mithun, Marianne (eds.). The Languages of Native America: Historical and Comparative Assessment. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 444–544.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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Works on individual languages

Boas, Franz (1917). "El dialecto mexicano de Pochutla, Oaxaca". International Journal of American Linguistics (in español). New York: Douglas C. McMurtrie. 1 (1): 9–44. doi:10.1086/463709. OCLC 56221629.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Hopi Dictionary Project (1998). Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni: A Hopi–English Dictionary of the Third Mesa Dialect With an English–Hopi Finder List and a Sketch of Hopi Grammar. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Campbell, Lyle (1985). The Pipil Language of El Salvador. Mouton Grammar Library, no. 1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-010344-1. OCLC 13433705.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Dayley, Jon P. (1989). "Tümpisa (Panamint) Shoshone Grammar". University of California Publications in Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press. 115.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Givón, Talmy (2011). Ute Reference Grammar. Culture and Language Use Volume 3. Amsterdam:: John Benjamins Publishing Company.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Jeanne, LaVerne Masayesva (1978). Aspects of Hopi grammar. MIT, dissertation.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Voegelin, Charles F. (1935). "Tübatulabal Grammar". University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology. 34: 55–190.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Voegelin, Charles F. (1958). "Working Dictionary of Tübatulabal". International Journal of American Linguistics. 24 (3): 221–228. doi:10.1086/464459.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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