Mesoamerica (MAM)
Geographic location: Mexico
Number of Languages: 238
Number of Genetic Units: 19
Genetic Index: .080
Mean Level of Endangerment: 3.89
Mean Documentation Status:
Threat Level: low
map of MAM hotspot

Description:

Mesoamerica is an area of Mexico that held a large number of early civilizations before the arrival of Europeans, such as the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Maya, and Aztec. The region now holds many of Mexico’s indigenous groups, who continue to speak ancestral languages despite cultural pressure to speak Spanish.

Mesoamerica is a linguistic area or Sprachbund, meaning it is an area of the world where speakers of different languages have been in contact with each other for so long that their languages have acquired traits from nearby unrelated languages. Long periods of contact and bilingualism led Mesoamerican languages to borrow many words from each other (as English has borrowed the word lava from Hawaiian and schmooze from Yiddish). Even more dramatically, no Mesoamerican languages have basic word orders that place the verb at the end of the sentence, even though languages near Mesoamerica that are related to Mesoamerican languages do have verb-final word order.  This change in word order is probably a result of language contact.

Genetic Units found in Hotspot (19):

  1. Amuzgoan
  2. Chinantecan
  3. Chiapanec-Mangue
  4. Huavean
  5. Mayan
  6. Mixe
  7. Mixtecan
  8. Otomian
  9. Otopamean > Chichimec
  10. Otopamean > Matlatzincan
  11. Pamean
  12. Popolocan
  13. Subtiapa-Tlapanec
  14. Tarascan
  15. Tequistlatecan
  16. Totonac-Tepehua
  17. Uto-Aztecan
  18. Zapotecan
  19. Zoque

Hotspots Formula:

List of Languages: (238)

  1. Acatepec Tlapanec
  2. Alacatlatzala Mixtec
  3. Alcozauca Mixtec
  4. Aloápam Zapotec
  5. Amatlán Zapotec
  6. Amoltepec Mixtec
  7. Ascunción Mixtepec Zapotec
  8. Atatláhuca Mixtec
  9. Ayautla Mazatec
  10. Ayoquesco Zapotec
  11. Ayutla Mixtec
  12. Azoyú Tlapanec
  13. Aztingo Matlatzinca
  14. Cacaloxtepec Mixtec
  15. Cajonos Zapotec
  16. Central Hausteca Nahuatl
  17. Central Nahuatl
  18. Central Pame
  19. Central Puebla Nahuatl
  20. Chaopan Zapotec
  21. Chayuco Mixtec
  22. Chazumba Mixtec
  23. Chiapanec
  24. Chicahuaxtla Triqui
  25. Chichicapan Zapotec
  26. Chichimeca-Jonaz
  27. Chigmecatitlan Mixtec
  28. Chiltepec Chinantec
  29. Chimalapa Zoque
  30. Chiquihuitlán Mazatec
  31. Chochotec
  32. Coatecas Altas Zapotec
  33. Coatepec Nahuatl
  34. Coatlán Mixe
  35. Coatlán Zapotec
  36. Coatzospan Mixtec
  37. Comaltepec Chinantec
  38. Copala Triqui
  39. Coyotepec Popoloca
  40. Coyutla Totonac
  41. Cuyamecalco Mixtec
  42. Diuxi-Tilantongo Mixtec
  43. East Highland Chatino
  44. East Highland Otomi
  45. Eastern Hausteca Nahuatl
  46. El Alto Zapotec
  47. Elotepec Zapotec
  48. Estado de Mexico Otomi
  49. Filomena Mata-Coahuitlán Totonac
  50. Guerrero Amuzgo
  51. Guerrero Nahuatl
  52. Guevava de Humboldt Zapotec
  53. Güilá Zapotec
  54. Highland Oaxaca Chontal
  55. Highland Popoluca
  56. Highland Puebla Nahuatl
  57. Highland Totonac
  58. Huautla Mazatec
  59. Huaxcaleca Nahuatl
  60. Huehuetla Tepehua
  61. Huitepec Mixtec
  62. Ipalapa Amuzgo
  63. Isthmus Mecayapan Nahuatl
  64. Isthmus Mixe
  65. Isthmus Zapotec
  66. Isthmus-Cosoleacaque Nahuatl
  67. Isthmus-Pajapan Nahuatl
  68. Itundujia Mixtec
  69. Ixcatec
  70. Ixcatlan Mazatec
  71. Ixtayutla Mixtec
  72. Ixtenco Otomí
  73. Jalapa de Díaz Mazatec
  74. Jamiltepec Mixtec
  75. Juquila Mixe
  76. Juxtlahuaca Mixtec
  77. Lachiguiri Zapotec
  78. Lachirioag Zapotec
  79. Lachixió Zapotec
  80. Lalana Chinantec
  81. Lealao Chinantec
  82. Lowland Oaxaca Chontal
  83. Loxicha Zapotec
  84. Magdalena Peñasco Mixtec
  85. Malinaltepec Tlapanec
  86. Mazahua Central
  87. Mazaltepec Zapotec
  88. Mazatlan Mazatec
  89. Mazatlan Mixe
  90. Metlatónoc Mixtec
  91. Mezontla Popoloca
  92. Mezquital Otomi
  93. Miahuatlán Zapotec
  94. Michoacan Mazahua
  95. Michoacán Nahuatl
  96. Mitla Zapotec
  97. Mitlatongo Mixtec
  98. Mixtepec Mixtec
  99. Mixtepec Zapotec
  100. Morelos Nahuatl
  101. Northern Oaxaca Nahuatl
  102. Northern Tlaxiaco Mixtec
  103. North Central Mixe
  104. Nopala Chatino
  105. Northern Pame
  106. Northwest Oaxaca Mixtec
  107. Ocotepec Mixtec
  108. Ocotlán Zapotec
  109. Ojitlán Chinantec
  110. Oluta Popoluca
  111. Ometepec Nahuatl
  112. Orizaba Nahuatl
  113. Ozolotepec Zapotec
  114. Ozumacín Chinantec
  115. Ozumatlan Totonac
  116. Palantla Chinantec
  117. Papantla Totonac
  118. Patla-Chicontla Totonac
  119. Peñoles Mixtec
  120. Petapa Zapotec
  121. Pinotepa Nacional Mixtec
  122. Pisaflores Tepehua
  123. Purepecha
  124. Querétaro Otomi
  125. Quetzaltepec Mixe
  126. Quiavicuzas Zapotec
  127. Quioquitani-Quierí Zapotec
  128. Quiotepec Chinantec
  129. Rayón Zoque
  130. Rincón Zapotec
  131. South Puebla Mixtec
  132. South Rincon Zapotec
  133. San Augustín Mixtepec Zapotec
  134. San Baltazar Loxicha Zapotec
  135. San Dionisio del Mar Huave
  136. San Felipe Otlaltepec Popoloca
  137. San Francisco del Mar Huave
  138. San Francisco Matlatzinca
  139. San Jerónimo Tecóatl Mazatec
  140. San Juan Atzingo Popoloca
  141. San Juan Colorado Mixtec
  142. San Juan Guelavía Zapotec
  143. San Juan Teita Mixtec
  144. San Luis Potosí Haustec
  145. San Luis Temalacayuca Popoloca
  146. San Marcos Tlalcoyalco Popoloca
  147. San Martin Itunyoso Triqui
  148. San Mateo del Mar Huave
  149. San Miguel El Grande Mixtec
  150. San Miguel Piedras Mixtec
  151. San Pedro Amuzgos Amuzgo
  152. San Pedro Quiatoni Zapotec
  153. San Vicente Coatlán Zapotec
  154. Santa Maria Zacatepec Mixtec
  155. Santa Catarina Albarradas Zapotec
  156. Santa Inés Ahuatempan Popoloca
  157. Santa Inés Yatzechi Zapotec
  158. Santa Lucia Moneteverde Mixtec
  159. Santa Lucia Monteverde Mixtec
  160. Santa Maria del Mar Huave
  161. Santa Maria la Alta Nahuatl
  162. Santa Maria Quiegolani Zapotec
  163. Santiago Xanica Zapotec
  164. Santo Domingo Albarradas Zapotec
  165. Sayula Popoluca
  166. South Peubla Mixtec
  167. Southeast Huastec
  168. Southeast Ixtlan Zapotec
  169. Southeast Nochixtlán Mixtec
  170. Southeast Puebla Nahuatl
  171. Sierra de Juarez Zapotec
  172. Silacayoapan Mixtec
  173. Sindihui Mixtec
  174. Sinicahua Mixtec
  175. Sochiapan Chinantec
  176. Soyaltepec Mazatec
  177. Soyaltepec Mixtec
  178. Southwest Tlaxiaco Mixtec
  179. Tabaa Zapotec
  180. Tabasco Zoque
  181. Tacahua Mixtec
  182. Tamazola Mixtec
  183. Tataltepec Chatino
  184. Tejalapan Zapotec
  185. Temascaltepec Nahuatl
  186. Temoaya Otomi
  187. Tenango Nahuatl
  188. Tenango Otomi
  189. Tepeuxila Cuicatec
  190. Tepinapa Chinantec
  191. Tepetotutla Chinantec
  192. Tetelcingo Nahuatl
  193. Teutila Cuicatec
  194. Texistepec Popoluca
  195. Texmelucan Zapotec
  196. Tezoatlán Mixtec
  197. Tidaá Mixtec
  198. Tijaltepec Mixtec
  199. Tilapa Otomí
  200. Tilquiapan Zapotec
  201. Tlachichilco Tepehua
  202. Tlacoapa Tlapanec
  203. Tlacoatzintepec Chinantec
  204. Tlacolulita Zapotec
  205. Tlahuitoltepec Mixe
  206. Tlalitzlipa Nahuatl
  207. Tlamacazapa Nahuatl
  208. Tlazoyaltepec Mixtec
  209. Totomachapan Zapotec
  210. Totontepec Mixe
  211. Tututepec Mixtec
  212. Usila Chinantec
  213. Valle Nacional Chinantec
  214. Venustiano Carranza Tzotzil
  215. Veracruz Haustec
  216. West Highland Chatino
  217. West Juxtlahuaca Mixtec
  218. West Highland Purepecha
  219. Western Hausteca Nahuatl
  220. Xadani Zapotec
  221. Xanaguía Zapotec
  222. Xicotepec de Juárez Totonac
  223. Yalálag Zapotec
  224. Yareni Zapotec
  225. Yatee Zapotec
  226. Yatzachi Zapotec
  227. Yautepec Zapotec
  228. Yecuatla-Misantla Totonac
  229. Yoloxochitl Mixtec
  230. Yosondúa Mixtec
  231. Yucuañe Mixtec
  232. Yutanduchi Mixtec
  233. Zaachila Zapotec
  234. Zacatepec Chatino
  235. Zaniza Zapotec
  236. Zezontepec Chatino
  237. Zoogocho Zapotec
  238. Spanish

Endangered Languages include:

  • Asunción Mixtepec Zapotec (< 100 speakers, Zapotecan)
  • Comaltepec Chinantec (< 150 speakers, Chinantec)
  • Ixcatec (< 120 speakers, Popolocan)
  • Sindihui Mixtec (< 140 speakers, Mixtecan)
  • Tabasco Zoque (< 40 speakers, Zoquean)

Some Features of Languages in Hotspot include:

  • Counting system based on 20
  • Non-verb-final word order
  • Nominal possession (The man's dog would be translated literally as his-dog the man.)

Trivia:

Media:

Mixtec family

A family of Mixtec speakers from Corral de Piedra, Catarina Estetla, Oaxaca. From left to right, Brigida, Hernan, Perla and Ofelia. From http://mixtec.nativeweb.org/

Sources:

Campbell, Lyle, Terrence Kaufman and Thomas C. Smith-Stark. 1986. Meso-America as a Linguistic Area. Language. 62:3, pp. 530-570.

Campbell, Lyle. 1997. American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.