A Look at Some Oto-Manguean Languages: Chinantecan Chinantec and Jalapa Mazaltec

Oto-Manguean
Western Oto-Mangue
Oto-Pame-Chinantecan
Chinantecan

Chinantecan Chinantec, an Indian language of southwest Mexico, is very hard for non-Chinantecs to learn. The tone system is maddeningly complex, and the syntax and morphology are very intricate.

Chinantec is rated 6, hardest of all.

Popolocan
Mazatecan
Lowland Valley
Southern

Jalapa Mazatec, another Indian language spoken in Mexico, has distinctions between what are called “modal”,”creaky”, and “breathy-voiced” vowels along with nasal versions of those three. It also has “creaky” consonants and odd things called “voiceless nasals.” It has three tones – low, mid and high. Combining the tones results in various tones that are called “contour tones.” In addition, it has a 3-way distinction in vowel length. Whistled speech is also possible.

It has a bizarre phonemic distinction between “ballistic” and “controlled” syllables which is only present only in Oto-Manguean languages and no where else in the world.

Ballistic (short)
– “warm
nīˑntū
– “slippery
tsǣ
– “guava
hų̄
– “you plural”

Controlled (half-long)
sūˑ – “blue
nīˑntūˑ
– “needle
tsǣˑ
– “full
hų̄ˑ
– “six”

Jalapa Mazatec is rated 6, hardest of all.

2 Comments

Filed under Amerindians, Applied, Chinantec, Language Families, Language Learning, Latin America, Linguistics, Mexico, Oto-Manguean, Race/Ethnicity, Regional

2 responses to “A Look at Some Oto-Manguean Languages: Chinantecan Chinantec and Jalapa Mazaltec

  1. James Schipper

    Quechua and Guarani are 2 Amerindian languages still spoken by millions in South America. I wonder how hard they are.

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