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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the language of the Chinantec, spoken in the northeastern part of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Chinantec is an Otomian-Mixtecan-Zapotecan language.

Chinantec has a rich vowel system. Its dialects have eight short vowels and long and nasalized vowels, and its relatively sophisticated system of consonants includes a glottal h and a glottal stop. Chinantec has a complex system of phonological tones: depending on the dialect, there may be three or four simple tones and a sequence of two or three of these tones may occur in a single syllable. The complicated syllabic structure permits initial and final clusters made up of a glottal and a consonant and allows of initial clusters composed of a consonant followed by a glide (w or j): hņĩαn2 + 3 (“he kills”) and ry2kwəhn1 (“I will give”), with tones indicated by numerals. Grammatical meaning is expressed through affixes (syllabic and nonsyllabic) and alterations in tone, as in ry2kwəhn1 (“I will give”) and ry2 + 3kwəh2 + 3 (“he will give”). Grammatical meaning may also be expressed by auxiliary words and through word order.


Weitlaner, R. J. “Los Chinantecos.” In Revista mexicana de estudios antropológicos, 1909, vol. 3.
Rensch, C. R., and C. M. Rensch. “The Lalana Chinantec Syllable.” In Summa anthropológica en homanaje a R. J. Weitlaner. Mexico City, 1966.
Merrifield, W. R. “Linguistic Clues for the Reconstruction of Chinantec Prehistory.” Ibid.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Also utilizing an analysis of language and representation, hallmarks of cultural history, Yanna Yannakakis focuses on the role that cultural intermediaries played as they brokered relations between the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico (Zapotec, Mixe, and Chinantec) and the Spanish colonial state.
A forester in his late 20s, Lopez Hernandez was returning to his village of Santiago Comaltepec, an indigenous Chinantec community about 70 miles north of the city of Oaxaca, to head up the Union of Zapotec-Chinantec Forest Producer Communities, a cooperative made up of his village and three neighboring communities.
In certain languages (e.g., Algonquian: Cree [Dahlstrom 1986; Wolfart 1973], Blackfoot [Pustet 1995], Ojibwa [Rhodes 1990; Jelinek 1990], Athabaskan: Navajo [Young and Morgan 1980; Hale 1973], TibetoBurman: Jinghpaw [DeLancey 1981b], Nootkan [Whistler 1985]; Otomanguean: Sochiapan Chinantec [Foris 1993]; see Klaiman 1991 and Givon 1994 for more references) (a subset of) transitive/ditransitive verbs have two forms called DIRECT and INVERSE.
Gwaltney, himself blind almost since birth, wrote his award-winning anthropology dissertation at Columbia University on river blindness among the Chinantec Indian under the guidance of the revered Margaret Mead, later published as The Thrice Shy: Cultural Accommodation to Blindness and Other Disasters in a Mexican Community(1970).
others: Agarabi (K6), Aguacatec (M2-4, K6), Angaataha (B14, K6), Bodi (F11-12), Chayahuita (B14, K6), Chemehuevi (N5), Chetko (R8), Chinantec (B14, K6, M2), Chumburu (K6), Coeur d'Alene (K9), Cofan (B14, K6), Colorado?