Language Isolates of Mesoamerica and Northern Mexico

Authored by: Raina Heaton

Language Isolates

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138821057
eBook ISBN: 9781315750026
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter discusses the four linguistic isolates spoken (or formerly spoken) in Mesoamerica and northern Mexico: Seri, Huave, Purépecha (Tarascan) and Cuitlatec. Although Cuitlatec is the only one which is no longer spoken, the other three are either threatened or endangered. This chapter provides basic information on each of these isolates, including their location, vitality and brief history. In an effort to demonstrate that each of these languages is indeed a linguistic isolate, also included is a discussion of the major proposals for genetic relationships involving these languages, as well as an evaluation of the evidence presented for each. The section on each language concludes with an overview of the typological characteristics of the language and some of the features it possesses which may be of general interest to linguists. 1

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