Chiapas Zoque

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Chiapas Zoque
Native toMexico
Native speakers
(30,000–35,000 cited 1990 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
zoc – Copainalá Zoque
zos – Francisco León Zoque
zor – Rayón Zoque

Chiapas Zoque is a dialect cluster of Zoquean languages indigenous to southern Mexico (Wichmann 1995). The three varieties, Francisco León (about 20,000 speakers in 1990), Copainalá (about 10,000), and Rayón (about 2,000), are named after the towns they are spoken in, though residents of Francisco León were relocated after their town was buried in the eruption of El Chichón Volcano in 1982. Francisco León and Copainalá are 83% mutually intelligible according to Ethnologue.


The following classification of Chiapas Zoque dialects is from Wichmann (1995:9).

Chiapas Zoque
  • North (Magdalena = Francisco León)
  • Northeast
    • A. (Tapalapa, Ocotepec, Pantepec, Rayón)
    • B. (Chapultenango, Oxolotán)
  • Central (Copainalá, Tecpatán, Ostuacán)
  • South (Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Ocozocuautla)

Another language, Jitotolteco, was announced in 2011.[3][4]

Current situation[edit]

There are about 15,000 speakers of Chiapas Zoque, although the number is rapidly decreasing (Faarlund 2012:3). The vast majority of speakers reside in Tapalapa, Ocotepec, and Pantepec. 80%–90% of the population in Tapalapa and Ocotepec (combined population: about 10,000) are speakers of Zoque (Faarlund 2012). 50% of the population in Pantepec (pop. 8,000) are Zoque speakers.

Before the publication of Jan Terje Faarlund's A Grammar of Chiapas Zoque (2012), the best documented Chiapas Zoque variety has been that of Copainalá due to the work of William Wonderly and other scholars. More detailed work has been done on Gulf Zoque and Oaxaca Zoque languages. Chiapas Zoque is an endangered language due to rapid language shift to Spanish among Zoque youths, although this is mitigated by the Zoque people's attempts to preserve their culture and language (Faarlund 2012:3).


Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ʌ
Open a
Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p t k ʔ
Affricate t͡s
Fricative s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Approximant j w

The liquids /l, r/ mostly occur in Spanish loanwords.[5]

Lexical comparison[edit]

The following table shows how numerals in two of the principal varieties of Chiapas Zoque compare to the numerals of proto-Zoque.[6][7]

Numeral proto-Zoque Copainalá Zoque Francisco León Zoque
1 *tum- tumi tumi
2 *mehts-, *wis- metsa metskuy
3 *tuku- tukaʔy tuʔkay
4 *mak(ta)s- makškuʔ maksikuy
5 *mos- mosaʔ mosay
6 *tuhtu- tuhtaʔ tuhtay
7 *wis.tuh- kuʔyaʔy kuʔyay
8 *tuku.tuhtu- tukutuhtaʔy takutuh-
9 *maks.tuhtu- makstuhtaʔy maks.tuh-
10 *mahk- mahkaʔy mahkay


  1. ^ Copainalá Zoque at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Francisco León Zoque at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Rayón Zoque at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chiapas Zoque". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Zavala Maldonado, Roberto, 2011, El Jitotolteco, una lengua zoqueana desconocida
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Jitotolteco". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ Faarlund, Jan Terje (2012-04-19). A Grammar of Chiapas Zoque. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780199693214.
  6. ^ Mark Rosenfelder's Metaverse: Mixe-Zoquean
  7. ^ Søren Wichmann, 2007, pp. 231-233
  • Faarlund, Jan Terje. 2012. A Grammar of Chiapas Zoque. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wichmann, Søren, 1995. The Relationship Among the Mixe–Zoquean Languages of Mexico. University of Utah Press. Salt Lake City. ISBN 0-87480-487-6

External links[edit]

Copainalá Zoque[edit]

Francisco León Zoque[edit]

Rayón Zoque[edit]