Tepehuán language

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Not to be confused with Tepehua language.
Native to Mexico
Region Chihuahua, Durango
Native speakers
25,000  (2005)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
ntp – Northern Tepehuán
stp – Southeastern Tepehuán
tla – Southwestern Tepehuán
tep – Tepecano

Tepehuán (Tepehuano, Tepecano) is the name of two closely related languages of the Piman branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, both spoken in northern Mexico. The language is called O'otham by its speakers.

Northern Tepehuán[edit]

Northern Tepehuán is spoken by 6,200 Tepehuán people (2005 census)[2] in the south of the state of Chihuahua.

Southern Tepehuán[edit]

Southern Tepehuán is divided into the southeastern and southwestern group. Southeastern Tepehuán is spoken by 9,937 people (2000 WCD) in Mezquital Municipio in the state of Durango. Southern Tepehuán coexists with the Mexicanero Nahuatl language, there is some intermarriage between the two ethnic groups, and a number of speakers are trilingual in Mexicanero, Tepehuán and Spanish

The extinct Tepecano language appears to have been a variety of Southern Tepehuán.

Southwestern Tepehuán is spoken by around 8,187 (2000 WCD) people in Southwestern Durango.


Tepehuán-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio stations XEJMN-AM, broadcasting from Jesús María, Nayarit, and XETAR, based in Guachochi, Chihuahua.


Tepehuán is an agglutinative language, in which words use suffix complexes for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.


The following is representative of the Northern dialect of Tepehuan

Tepehuan has 6 vowels and 3 common diphthongs.

Vowels Front Central Back
High i [i̠] ɨ [ʉ] u [u]
Mid e [e] o [ɵ]
Low a [ä]
Diphthongs Front Central Back
High ɨi [ʊ̈i]
Mid ei [ɛi]
Low ai [äi]
IPA chart of Northern Tepehuan consonants
Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Palatal Velar Labialized Uvular Glottal
Stop p [p] b [b] t [t] d [d] ty [tʲ] dy [dʲ] k [k] g [g]
Nasal m [m] n [n] ñ [ɲ] ng [ŋ]
Flap r [ɾ]
Fricative v [v] s [s] š [ʃ] h [χ]
Affricate c [tɕ]
Approximant w [w]
Lateral l [l]