Comparative Reconstruction of Indigenous Languages

  • Robert E. Longacre


O.For many years the accomplishment of Indo-European comparative reconstruction has stood in lonely splendor without a serious rival (in depth and scope) in other linguistic stocks. Current work in Latin America and the Caribbean is, however, now going forward at such a pace that in the near future it will no longer be possible to equate comparative linguistics with Indo-European studies. In Mesoamerica comparative reconstruction is reaching a very mature stage — especially in the Otomanguean and Mayan stocks and in the Mixe-Zoque family. Proto-Otomanguean, embracing some thirty languages grouped into seven component families, is currently on the drawing boards. Meanwhile, phonologies of component families have either been worked out as of several years ago or are currently being completed. Etymological dictionaries — sizeable bodies of cognate sets — will soon be available for component families and the stock as a whole. Current work in the Mayan stock is also very promising with a proven link of Mayan to one South American language. Mixe-Zoque is shaping up well. Good work has been done recently in Utoaztecan but we still lack an etymological dictionary of adequate size for that stock. Less advanced are available comparative studies in Totonac-Tepehua (not to mention the vexed question of ‘Mexican Penutian’: Mayan, Totonac-Tepehua, Mixe-Zoquean) and in Yuman (Hokan).


Indigenous Language Language Family Consonant Cluster Tone Sandhi Component Family 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

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  • Robert E. Longacre

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