Otomian-Mixtecan-Zapotecan Languages

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Otomian-Mixtecan-Zapotecan Languages


(also Otomanguean languages), an Indian language family of Mexico, having approximately 1 million speakers (1970, estimate). The American scholar R. Longacre divides the Otomian-Mixtecan-Zapotecan languages into seven groups that include the following languages: (1) Otomi, Mazahua, Pame, Chichimec Jonaz, Matlatzinca, Ocuiltec; (2) Popoloca, Ixcatec, Chocho, Mazatec; (3) Mixtee, Cuicatec, Trique; (4) Amusgo; (5) Mangue (in Central America) and Chiapanec, both of which became extinct in the 19th century; (6) Zapotec; and (7) Chinantec.

The Otomian-Mixtecan-Zapotecan languages are polysynthetic and are characterized by prenasalized and labiovelar consonants, tonal distinctions, and classifying prefixes. The postposition of the noun-expressed attribute is an almost unique feature for American Indian languages. Phonetic and lexical elements of the Otomian-Mixtecan-Zapotecan languages were reconstructed by American linguists in the 1950’s and 1960’s.


Rivet, P., G. Stresser-Péan, and Č. Loukotka. “Langues de l’Amérique.” In Les Langues du Monde. Paris, 1952.
Swadesh, M. “The Oto-Manguean Hypothesis and Macro-Mixtecan.” International Journal of American Linguistics, 1960, vol. 26, no. 2.
Longacre, R. E. “Progress in Otomanguean Reconstruction.” In the collection Proceedings of the 9th International Congress of Linguists. The Hague, 1964.


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