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Tlapanec language

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Title: Tlapanec language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tlapanec people, Cuicatec language, Chatino language, Trique language, Amuzgo language
Collection: Indigenous Languages of Mexico, Mesoamerican Languages, Oto-Manguean Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Tlapanec language

Native to Mexico
Region Guerrero, Morelos
Native speakers
86,000  (2000–2005)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
tcf – Malinaltepec (east)
tpc – Azoyú (south)
tpl – Tlacoapa (central)
tpx – Acatepec (west)
Linguist list
qpc Tlapanec
Glottolog subt1249  (Tlapanec + Subtiaba)[2]
Tlapaneco (Ochre, number 13) and the rest of the modern Oto-Manguean languages.

Tlapanec is an indigenous Mexican language spoken by more than 98,000 Tlapanec people in the state of Guerrero.[3] Like other Oto-Manguean languages, it is tonal and has complex inflectional morphology. The Tlapanec themselves currently refer to their language using the adjective Me'phaa [meʔpʰaː].[4]

Before much information was known about it, Tlapanec (sometimes written "Tlappanec" in earlier publications) was either considered unclassified or linked to the controversial Hokan language family. It is now definitively considered part of the Oto-Manguean language family, of which it forms its own branch along with the extinct and very closely related Subtiaba language of Nicaragua.[5]

Me'phaa people temporarily move to other locations, including Mexico City, Morelos and various locations in the United States, for reasons of work.


  • Varieties 1
  • Grammar 2
  • Media 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Ethnologue distinguishes four Tlapanec languages:[6]

  • Acatepec (dialects Acatepec proper, Huitzapula, Nanzintla, Teocuitlapa, Zapotitlán Tablas)
  • Azoyú
  • Malinaltepec (dialect Huehuetepec/Zilacayotitlán)
  • Tlacoapa (dialects Tlacoapa proper, Tenamazapa)

Other sources of information, including native speakers and the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas of the Mexican government, identify eight or nine varieties, which have been given official status: Acatepec, Azoyú, Malinaltepec, Tlacoapa, Nancintla, Teocuitlapa, Zapotitlán Tablas (with Huitzapula sometimes considered distinct), Zilacayotitlán.[7] These share mutual intelligibility of 50% between Malinaltepec and Tlacoapa, though Acatepec has an 80% intelligibility of both.

The Azoyú variety is the only natural language reported to have used the pegative case, though it is verbal case like other 'case' markers in Tlapanec.[8]


Tlapanec is an ergative-absolutive language. However, while most languages of this type have an overt ergative case, Tlapanec is one of the rare examples of a marked absolutive language, that is, an ergative language that overtly marks the absolutive and leaves the ergative unmarked[9]


Tlapanec-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio station XEZV-AM, broadcasting from Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero.


  1. ^ Malinaltepec (east) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Azoyú (south) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Tlacoapa (central) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Acatepec (west) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Tlapanec + Subtiaba". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ INEGI 2005:
  4. ^ Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas. 2008. Catálogo de las lenguas indígenas nacionales: Variantes lingüísticas de México con sus autodenominaciones y referencias geoestadísticas. Diario Oficial 14 enero, Primera Sección: 31-78, Segunda Sección: 1-96, Tercera Sección: 1-112.
  5. ^ See Suárez (1977; 1986).
  6. ^ Computer-generated list of Tlapanec languages at Ethnologue (2013)
  7. ^ A 2008 proposal to divide the ISO code for Acatepec into Acatepec proper, Teocuitlapa, Zapotitlan Tablas, and Huitsapula was rejected.[1]
  8. ^ Wichmann (2005).
  9. ^ Donohue, Mark (2008).


Donohue, Mark (2008). "Semantic alignment systems: what's what, and what's not". In Donohue, Mark & Søren Wichmann. The Typology of Semantic Alignment. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 27. 
Fernández de Miranda, María Teresa (1968). "Inventory of Classificatory Materials". In Norman A. McQuown (volume editor). Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. 5: Linguistics.  
Marlett, Stephen A. (Ed.) (2011). "Los archivos lingüísticos me'phaa.". SIL International. 
Suárez, Jorge A. (1977). El tlapaneco como lengua Otomangue (MS) (in Español). México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 
Suárez, Jorge A. (1983). La lengua tlapaneca de Malinaltepec (in Español). México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Filologicas.  
Suárez, Jorge A. (1986). "Elementos gramaticales otomangues en tlapaneco". In Benjamin F. Elson (ed.). Language in global perspective (Papers in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Summer Institute of Linguistics 1935-1985. Dallas: The Summer Institute of Linguistics.  
Weathers, Mark L. (1976). "Tlapanec 1975". International Journal of American Linguistics 42 (4): pp.367–371.  
Weathers, Mark L.; Abad Carrasco Zúñiga (1989). Xó nitháán mè’phàà: Cómo se escribe el tlapaneco. México, D.F.: Editorial Cuajimalpa. 

External links

  • SIL description of Tlapanecan languages
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