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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of languages in northeastern Argentina (Chaco), in western Paraguay, and in the extreme eastern part of Bolivia.

According to a number of linguists, the Mataco-Macá languages belong to the Macro-Guaycurú family. The MatacoMaca languages include (1) the Mataco languages (Guisnay and Nocten dialects), Mataguayo (Vejoz, Hueshuo, Pesatupe, and Abucheta dialects), Chorotí (Chorote), and Ashluslay; (2) the Macá languages (Enimagá), Guentuse, and Cochaboth (Lengua).

The Mataco-Macá languages have complex consonant systems; glottalized consonants are opposed to aspirated and plain consonants; there is a series of palatalized consonants in Choroti. Grammatical relations are expressed analytically and, rarely, by suffixes and prefixes. Cases are nonexistent. Nouns have personal possessive suffixes (“my,” “your,” etc.); verbs have personal affixes that indicate whether the action is directed toward an object or experienced by the subject. Personal pronoun number is usually expressed by number affixes in the verb. In Mataco a distinction is made between conventional “we” and “we as a family.”


Hunt, R. J., and B. A. Tompkins, Mataco Grammar. Tucumán, 1940.
Metraux, A. “The Linguistic Affinities of the Enimagá (Cochaboth) Group.” American Anthropologist, 1942, vol. 44.
Tovar, A. Catálogo de las lenguas de America del Sur. Buenos Aires, 1961.
Hunt, R. J. “Mataco-English and English-Mataco Dictionary.” Etnologiska studier. Göteborg, 1937, vol. 5.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.