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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.
REFERENCESWeitlaner, 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.