Infobox Language
states=Mexico (Chiapas state); Guatemala (Huehuetenango Dept.)
region=several communities in the Fronteriza and Sierra demographic regions of the southeastern Chiapas highlands; isolated villages across the Guatemalan border
extinct=late 20th century

Chicomuceltec (also "Chikomuselteko" or "Chicomucelteco"; archaically, "Cotoque") is a Mayan language formerly spoken in the region defined by the "municipios" of Chicomuselo, Mazapa de Madero, and Amatenango de la Frontera in Chiapas, Mexico, as well as some nearby areas of Guatemala. By the 1970s-80s it had become extinct, with recent reports in Mayanist literature finding that there are no living native speakers. [See Campbell and Canger (1978); Ethnologue entry on "Chicomuceltec" (Gordon 2005).] Communities of contemporary Chicomucelteco descendants, numbering approximately 1500 persons in Mexico and 100 in Guatemala [See Gordon (2005) for population estimates, which draw on sources collected in the early 1980s.] are Spanish-speakers.

Chicomuceltec was formerly sometimes called Cakchiquel Mam, although it is only distantly related to the Cakchiquel or Mam, being much closer to Wastek (Huastec).

History and genealogy

The Chicomuceltec language was first documented in modern linguistic literature as a distinct language in the late 19th century, where it appeared in an account published by linguist Karl Sapper of his travels in northern Mesoamerica 1888–95. [The work in question is Sapper 1897, with later expansions to the material appearing in Sapper 1912; as cited in Dienhart (1997), [ "Data sources listed by author"] .]

Chicomuceltec's relationship with Wastek was established in the late 1930s (Kroeber 1939), which concluded via word-list comparisons with other Mayan languages that it bore a higher degree of affinity with Wastek than other Mayan language branches. [See "précis" of Kroeber 1939, appearing in Fernández de Miranda (1968), pp.74–75.]

Historical documentation

A two-page document dated to 1775 which was retrieved from the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris is the oldest-known testament of the Chicomuceltec language. Taking the form of a Roman Catholic confession, the manuscript contains eight sentences written in Chicomuceltec. It also mentions that the language was then referred to as "Cotoque". [As described by Dienhart (1997), the manuscript was reproduced in Zimmermann 1955 (whose research it was which uncovered the document), accompanied by his linguistic analysis of its contents.]

Geographical distribution

The geographical distribution of Wastek and Chicomuceltec in relation to the rest of the Mayan languages —with Wastek centered on the northern Gulf Coast region away from the others lying south and east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec— led Kroeber to also propose that Chicomuceltec was either a remnant population left behind after the Huastec people's migration north from the Chiapas highlands region, or alternatively represented a return of a Huastec subgroup to their earlier homelands. [Fernández de Miranda, "loc. cit."]

Decline and extinction

By the early 20th century it was clear the language was in decline, and when in 1926 Franz Termer visited the community of Chicomucelo, he reported finding only three individuals (all over 60 years of age) who could speak Chicomuceltec, out of a township of approximately 2,500. The Chicomuceltec speakers themselves conducted their day-to-day conversations in Spanish. [Termer (1930), as annotated in Dienhart, "op. cit."]



: cite journal |author=aut|Brown, Cecil H. |coauthors=and aut|Søren Wichmann |year=2004 |title=Proto-Mayan Syllable Nuclei |journal=International Journal of American Linguistics |volume=70 |issue=2|pages=pp.128–186 |location=Chicago, IL |publisher=University of Chicago Press |doi=10.1086/424553 |issn=0020-7071 |oclc=98981737: cite journal |author=aut|Campbell, Lyle |authorlink=Lyle Campbell |coauthors=and aut|Una Canger |year=1978 |title=Chicomuceltec's last throes |journal=International Journal of American Linguistics |volume=44 |issue=3|pages=pp.228–230 |location=Chicago, IL |publisher=University of Chicago Press, in cooperation with the Conference on American Indian Languages|issn=0020-7071 |oclc=1753556 |doi=10.1086/465548: cite web |author=aut|Dienhart, John M. |year=1997 |title=The Mayan Languages- A Comparative Vocabulary |format=electronic version |url= |publisher=Odense University |accessdate=2006-12-15 : cite book |author=aut|Fernández de Miranda, María Teresa |year=1968 |chapter=Inventory of Classificatory Materials |pages=pp.63–78 |title=Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. 5: Linguistics |editor=Norman A. McQuown (Volume ed.) |others=R. Wauchope (General Editor) |publisher=University of Texas Press |location=Austin |isbn=0-292-73665-7 |oclc=277126 : cite book |author=aut|Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.) |year=2005 |chapter=Chicomuceltec |chapterurl= |title=Ethnologue: Languages of the World |edition=Fifteenth edition |format=online version |url= |publisher=SIL International |location=Dallas, TX |isbn=1-55671-159-X |oclc=60338097|accessdate=2006-12-15 : cite paper |author=aut|Kaufman, Terrence |authorlink=Terrence Kaufman |date=2001 |title=The history of the Nawa language group from the earliest times to the sixteenth century: some initial results |url= |format=PDF |version=Revised March 2001|publisher=Project for the Documentation of the Languages of Mesoamerica |accessdate=2008-04-03: cite journal |author=aut|Kroeber, Alfred L. |authorlink=Alfred L. Kroeber|year=1939 |title=The historical position of Chicomuceltec in Mayan |journal=International Journal of American Linguistics |volume=10 |issue=4 |pages=pp.159–160 |location=Baltimore, MD |publisher=Published at Waverly Press by Indiana University |issn=0020-7071 |oclc=1753556 |doi=10.1086/463837: cite book |author=aut|Miles, S. W. |year=1971 |chapter=Summary of Preconquest Ethnology of the Guatemala-Chiapas Highlands and Pacific Slopes |pages=pp.275–287 |title= |editor=Gordon R. Willey (Volume ed.) |others=R. Wauchope (General Editor) |publisher=University of Texas Press |location=Austin |isbn=0-292-73260-0 |oclc=277126 : cite book |author=aut|Sapper, Karl |authorlink=Karl Sapper |year=1897 |title=Das nördliche Mittel-Amerika nebst einem Ausflug nach dem Hochland von Anahuac |publisher=Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn |location=Braunschweig, Germany |oclc=70337620 de icon: cite conference|author=aut|Sapper, Karl |authorlink=Karl Sapper |year=1912 |title=Über einige Sprachen von Südchiapas |booktitle=Proceedings of the Seventeenth International Congress of Americanists (1910) |pages=pp.295–320 de icon: cite conference|author=aut|Termer, Franz |year=1930 |title=Über die Mayasprache von Chicomucelo |booktitle=Proceedings of the Twenty-third International Congress of Americanists (New York, 1928) |pages=pp.926–936 de icon: cite journal |author=aut|Wichmann, Søren |authorlink=Søren Wichmann|coauthors=and aut|Cecil H. Brown |year=2002 |title=Contácto Lingüístico dentro del área maya: los casos del ixhil, el q'eqchii' y del chikomuselteko |url= |format=PDF online reprint |journal=Pueblos y fronteras |volume=4 |pages=pp.133–167 |location=San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mex. |publisher=Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Programa de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias sobre Mesoamérica y el Sureste |issn=1870-4115 |oclc=164600251 es icon: cite journal |author=aut|Zimmermann, Günther |year=1955 |title=Cotoque. Die Maya-Sprache von Chicomucelo |journal=Zeitschrift für Ethnologie |url= |format= |volume=80 |issue= |pages=pp.59–87 |location=Braunschweig, Germany |publisher=Deutschen Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde; Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte |doi= |issn=0044-2666 |oclc=1770462 de icon

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