The state of Veracruz, where Totonac is spoken
Misantla Totonac, also known as Yecuatla Totonac and Southeastern Totonac (Totonac: Laakanaachiwíin), is an indigenous language of Mexico, spoken in central Veracruz in the area between Xalapa and Misantla. It belongs to the Totonacan family and is the southernmost variety of Totonac. The Totonacan languages have been tentatively grouped with Mixe-Zoque as part of the Totozoquean language family. Misantla Totonac is highly endangered, with fewer than 500 speakers, most of whom are elderly. The language has largely been replaced by Spanish.
- 1 Distribution
- 2 History
- 3 Phonology
- 4 Morphology
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The language was spoken in the area between Misantla and Xalapa in central Veracruz, but no speakers live in either of those localities, the remaining speakers instead being found only in outlying towns and rural areas along the road from Xalapa to Misantla. The only town with a viable speech community is the town of Yecuatla, where 293 speakers were counted in 1990 (MacKay 1999). Other towns with speakers of Misantla Totonac include San Marcos Atexquilapan, Landero y Cos, and Chiconquiaco. The statistics of Misantla Totonac speakers are as follows (Secretaría de Programación y Presupuesto 1992, cited in MacKay 1999).
- Yecuatla (293 speakers)
- San Marcos Atexquilapan (36 speakers)
- Landero y Cos (51 speakers)
- Chiconquiaco (24 speakers)
- Jilotepec (9 speakers)
- Miahuatlan (2 speakers)
In the eighteenth century Zambrano Bonilla published a grammar, and Francisco Domínguez published a doctrina (a catechism) of the Totonac language of Naolinco, another town where Misantla Totonac is no longer spoken. Beginning in the 1980s, the American linguist Carolyn MacKay has done fieldwork in Misantla Totonac speaking communities. She has published a grammar (MacKay 1999) and several articles about the language.
Misantla Totonac has twelve phonemic vowels. There are three vowel qualities. Length is distinguished, and there is also a distinction between plain and laryngealized versions of both short and long vowels.
IPA Chart for Vowels of Misantla Totonac Front Central Back Plain Creaky Plain Creaky Plain Creaky High [i] [iː] [ḭ] [ḭː] [u] [uː] [ṵ] [ṵː] Low [a] [aː] [a̰] [a̰ː]
There are many minimal pairs that attest to the contrasts between long and short vowels and between plain and laryngealized vowels in Misantla Totonac. Compare [ʃkán] ("his/her child") and [ʃkáan] ("water"), as well as [paʃ] ("he/she bathes") and [pa̰ʃ] ("he/she threshes X").
The vowel phonemes of Misantla Totonac have multiple allophones. These allophones are as follows.
- /i/ may be realized as [ɪ], [ə], [ɛ], [ɛɛ], [ɛi̯], and [ɛɘ].
- /u/ may be realized as [ɔ] and [o].
- /a/ may be realized as [ɛ], [e], and [ə].
Misantla Totonac has the sixteen consonants shown in the chart below.
IPA Chart for Consonants of Misantla Totonac Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal Central Lateral Nasal [m] [n] Plosive [p] [t] [k] [q] [ʔ] Affricate [ts] [tʃ] Fricative [s] [ɬ] [ʃ] [h] Approximant [l] [j] [w]
The syllable in Misantla Totonac consists minimally of a vocalic nucleus and a consonantal onset. Any consonant may appear as the onset of a syllable; however, if there is no onset before the nucleus, a glottal stop /ʔ/ must be inserted. The nucleus can consist of either a short or long vowel. The optional coda may contain a maximum of two consonants. Syllable-final affricates and glides are not permitted. There are therefore many possible syllable configurations. The possible configurations may be represented as (C)CV(V)(C)(C). Consonant clusters are quite restricted in their composition, and syllable-final consonant clusters are limited to a nasal followed by a post-velar stop.
Below are examples of the various possible syllable configurations:
- CV - it is muddy, [ɫɔ.qɔ.qɔ.la̰ʔ]
- CVV - no, [láa]
- CCV - basket, [šqa̰.ta̰t]
- CCVV - long, [šqáa.nán]
- CVC - sugarcane, [čḭŋ.kat]
- CVVC - yes, [háan]
- CCVC - earth, [spát]
- CCVVC - he cries, [smáaχ.smáaχ.wán]
- CVCC - tomato, [páqɫ.ča]
- CVVCC - cave, [múu.siiŋk]
- CCVVCC - he snores, [ɫqɔɔɴʛ.nán]
There are many processes that affect the realization of phonemes in Misantla Totonac. The following lists provide some of the most prominent of these processes.
- Stops and affricates may be optionally voiced between voiced segments.
- /q/ may be realized as a voiceless uvular fricative [χ] after a vowel. Thus, /łuquququ-la̰ʔ/ (it is muddy) may be realized as [ɫɔχɔχɔla̰ʔ].
- A nasal will assimilate to the place of articulation of a following stop or affricate. For example, /min-kḭn/ (your nose) is realized as [mɪŋkíʔ]. This example also illustrates the process whereby word-final /n/ is optionally realized as [ʔ] after a short laryngealized vowel.
- Word-final nasals undergo several changes. /m/ normally becomes [n]. /kin-kam/ (my child) therefore becomes [kíŋkán]. /n/ becomes velar [ŋ] word-finally, as in the word /škaan/ (water), which becomes [škáaŋ].
- /n/ is deleted before a continuant. /mii-luu/ (your stomach word) therefore becomes [mílúu].
- [ʔ] is inserted at the beginning of a vowel-initial word. /ašnḭ/ (when, then) therefore becomes [ʔášnḭ].
- High vowels are lowered preceding and following /q/ and /h/. /łuquququ-la̰ʔ/ (it is muddy) therefore becomes [ɫɔχɔχɔla̰ʔ].
- Sequences of identical consonant segments are simplified. Thus, [min-nap] (your aunt) is realized as [mínáp].
- There is a constraint against syllable-final sonorants. Syllable-final /l/ and /h/ become the obstruent [ɫ]. For example, /staqal/ (flat) becomes [staqáɫ].
Misantla Totonac has both primary and secondary stress. All heavy syllables take secondary stress. The right-most stress in a word is the primary stress. Primary stress may fall on the ultimate or penultimate syllable. Nouns and verbs follow different rules for primary stress. In the case of nouns, stress falls on the penultimate syllable if the ultimate syllable is light. If the ultimate syllable is heavy, then primary stress falls on the ultimate syllable. The following examples illustrate these principles.
- [mísíksi] - your bile
- [snápṵ] - gnat
- [ɫukúk] - pierced
- [štiníitáa] - ugly
There is one exception to the above rule. Ultimate syllables closed by a coronal obstruent are not stressed. Consider the following words.
- [múkskut] - fire
- [kúčiɫ] - knife
One can argue that word-final syllables with the shape CV or CVC (if the final consonant is a coronal obstruent) are treated as extrametrical, and therefore left unstressed. For verbs, primary stress falls on the ultimate syllable of the word, regardless of the syllable weight. However, certain word-final inflectional suffixes never receive stress.
The Totonac verbal inflectional affixes distinguish tense, aspect, mood, person, and the number of subjects and objects. The grammatical processes involved in verbal inflection in Totonac include affixation, suppletion, and cliticization.
There are two tense categories: past and non-past. Misantla Totonac distinguishes these categories in all aspects and moods except the perfective irrealis mood. Non-past forms are indicated by a zero morpheme. The past tense morpheme is /iš-/ or /šta̰n/. In the imperfective aspect, the suffix appears in final position. In the perfective aspect, the suffix appears immediately after the verb root. The morpheme /na(ɫ)/ precedes a verb inflected in the imperfective to indicate future tense.
Misantla Totonac distinguishes two aspectual categories: the imperfective and the perfective. The morpheme /-yaa/, inserted immediately after the verb root, indicates the imperfective aspect. The morpheme /-la(ɫ)/ or /-ti/ is placed in final position to indicate the perfective aspect.
The Totonac verb agrees with its subject in person and number. Objects are obligatory marked on the verb when there is no overt object noun phrase and optionally marked when there is one. The subject and object categories are first, second, and third person, singular and plural, the indefinite subject, and the reflexive.
Subject inflection is as follows:
- /ḭk-/ - 1st person singular
- /-ʔ/ - 2nd person singular
- Zero morpheme - 3rd person singular
- /(ik-)...-wa/ - 1st person plural
- /-tat/ - 2nd person plural
- /ta-/ - 3rd personal plural
- /-kan/ - Indefinite subject
Object inflection is as follows:
- /kin-/ - 1st person singular
- /-na/ - 2nd person singular
- /taa-/ - 2nd person singular
- /laa-/ - 3rd person plural
The order of the inflectional morphemes in the Totonac verb is listed below:
1. Irrealis mood
2. 1st person singular subject or 1st person singular object
3. Past tense
4. 3rd person plural subject or 2nd person plural object
5. 3rd person plural object
6. Verb stem
7. Indefinite subject or reflexive
8. Imperfective aspect
9. 1st person plural subject or perfective mood
10. 2nd person plural subject or 2nd person singular object
11. Past tense
Additional Verbal Morphology
Below are some of the more frequently used verbal morphemes:
- /kii-/ - Intentional
- /-kḭḭ/ - Continuative
- /tii-/ - Leave having Xed
- /a̰-/ - Momentarily
- /lak-/ - Distributive
- /-kuhu/ - Completive
- /t͡sa̰a̰-/ - Preceding/Just
- /saa-/ - Desiderative
- /-nan/ - Become X
- /as-/ - Interrogative
Nouns may be inflected for number and for person and number of possessors. Both processes are optional, with the exception of body-part lexemes.
Plurality can be indicated by a suffix, a prefix, or both. There are a variety of affixes that indicate plurality, the chief of which are the following:
- /lak-/ - Distributive
- /lii-/ - Appears mainly on countable nouns
- /laa-/ - Comitative
- /-ta̰n/ - Only occurs on verbs ending in variants of /-sun/, dimension.
- /-(V)(V)n/ - Plural
- /-nḭḭn/ - Some nouns are lexically specified to take this suffix.
- /-na̰/ - Occurs when a noun is consonant-final and has penultimate stress
The following prefixes mark singular possession:
- /kin-/ - 1st person singular
- /min-/ - 2nd person singular
- /iš-/ - 3rd person singular
The plural possessives are formed with the same prefixes, but with the addition of the suffix /-ka̰n/ to indicate plurality.
- MacKay, Carolyn J.; Trechsel, Frank R. (Forthcoming), "Symmetrical Objects in Misantla Totonac", International Journal of American Linguistics
- MacKay, Carolyn J.; Trechsel, Frank R. (2003), "Reciprocal /laa-/ in Totonacan", International Journal of American Linguistics 69 (3): 275–306
- MacKay, Carolyn J. (1999), A Grammar of Misantla Totonac, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0-87480-455-8
- MacKay, Carolyn J. (1994), "Dyadic Structure in a Totonac Narrative", Investigaciones lingüísticas en mesoamérica: Estudios sobre lenguas americanas 1, México: UNAM
- MacKay, Carolyn J. (1994), "A sketch of Misantla Totonac Phonology", International Journal of American Linguistics 60 (4): 199–248
- MacKay, Carolyn J. (1992), "Primary Stress in Misantla Totonac", Estudios de Lingüística Aplicada, 15/16: 111–128